The Same But Different
Wednesday night sees a second visit from the Foxes in four days. Different competition of course and whilst the vast majority of the players in action will be different too I suspect we’ll see a similar sort of game with Leicester sitting back conceding territory and possession whilst hoping the whippets up front will be able to hit us on the break.
Leading these breakaways of course will be the twin speedsters, Mahrez and the unpleasant Vardy; the latter probably for only some of the game given that he and his groin were under the knife only last week. With or without him though Leicester’s characteristics are speed and aggression in midfield and down the flanks, Albrighton & Kanté in particular can be as big an influence on games as the two main goal scorers. Whether Vardy starts or comes on to try and take advantage of any fatigue is up to Ranieri of course but the wise money would probably be on Ulloa to chuck his weight around for an hour or so before giving way.
The news that Dembélé and Mason are available after recovering from ankle injuries is a real boon especially the potential presence of the Belgian who has been such an influence since coming back from his previous injury in October. Great as it is to see Carroll make progress the physicality and strength that Dembélé brings lifts us a level.
Assuming that he is fit enough to start then it doesn’t take a huge amount of insight to predict that Poch will probably go with Lloris, Walker, Davies, Verts, Toby, Dier, Dembélé, Lamela, Eriksen, Alli and Kane. Pretty much our strongest line up. There should be a strong bench as well.
Tighter than a gnat’s chuff
In the three games between the two sides last season and in the two so far this year there’s been barely the width of a Rizla paper between the teams and lovely as it would be to predict a comfortable win this evening I suspect that’s very very unlikely. We can expect to have to fight from beginning to end especially given that there’s so much on the game.
Results last night mean that West Ham have suddenly emerged as top four contenders once again – they’ve done well to keep things ticking over without Payet and now that their main man is back they’ll be feeling good about life. A win would put us four points clear of them and only one behind Leicester. A loss though might see a gap open up below the top three, something we need to do our best to avoid occurring.
A narrow win is within our grasp provided we take our chances and the full backs cope with the pace down the wings. It should be an entertaining evening whatever.
The man in yellow
Ryan’s dad, Lee Mason, is the referee.
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