The games continue to come thick and fast as tonight we return to the self-styled London Stadium for a repeat of not only our Premier League game of eleven days ago but also our Carabao Cup game of last season and it’s the latter rather than the former that this encounter is more likely to resemble.
As usual Poch has paid lip service to the importance of cups in his pre-match conversation but we all know that it’s the Premier and Moneybags League games that catch his eye.
He will want to win tonight naturally, but he would much rather come out on top on Saturday at Molyneux. Poch’s answer if that was posed to him would be “why can’t we win both?”, which is fine, except of course that he won’t play his strongest team in both.
A dizzying amount of rotation is probable. Walker-Peters, Serge Aurier, Vorm/Gazzaniga, Llorente, Son, Skipp? That fills the full-back, keeper, two strikers and one midfield slot, but what about the remainder? Well maybe we’ll find out what has happened to Juan Foyth and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou? And maybe not, Poch does want to win after all. I think.
I suspect Dele and Eriksen will be given some game time, hopefully enough to make a positive difference to the result as they so nearly did on Monday – hopefully Harry will be at home changing nappies.
Which other stalwarts of the first team will be asked to turn out again, so soon after playing on the Wembley beach, is a bit of a guess. The dearth of fit and in form centre-backs mean that Sanchez or Alderweireld (or both) will be needed. Winks? Dier? Only Poch and his fitness graphs and spreadsheets will know.
West Ham will also field a much-changed line-up from their draw at Leicester. They follow this with two winnable looking games against Burnley and Huddersfield. Their brief revival, a win at Everton and at home to Man Utd, has taken a stutter and they won’t want to risk the potential gathering of six important points before they come up against Bank of Abu Dhabi XI. They have Newcastle, Cardiff, Palace and Fulham subsequently so they could well be entering a season defining few weeks. Pushing for the top half, or scrapping around at the bottom?
So an interesting rather than enticing evening ahead. We could do with a win to help morale after the last two results. The next round is the quarter final meaning that WEMBLEY! is only two ties away!
Oh Gawd. Not the W word please. On the other hand, perhaps the cups are overrated after all…
Stuart Atwell is the referee.
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