Wednesdayâ€™s defeat at Goodison pretty much confirmed what we already knew, that talk of us winning the league was so much hot air. Eight points off an undefeated United with them also having a game in hand isnâ€™t a gap weâ€™re likely to breach. Our odds on finishing as champions were down to 16/1 or so but you can now get 28/1 plus.
On Sunday though we embark once more on the FA Cup, a competition the bookies think we definitely can win as we start at 10/1. Last seasonâ€™s semi final defeat seemed to signal a damp squib ending to a season that promised so much. Instead as we know, Gareth Bale led the charge to glory.
The draws and replays that took us to Wembley led to some memorable footballing nights however they also sapped energy (and wallets). When you play a weakened team, by definition you often get a weakened result. So Wednesday week at the Valley anyone? Letâ€™s hope not. Our â€˜Bâ€™ team should be enough to cope with a League One side whose new owners have prepared for this match by firing their manager. New chairman Michael Slater, presumably not the same one licking his Ashes wounds, asked Phil Parkinson not to let the door slam behind him after getting turned over by Swindon at home on Monday evening.
The Addicks may have a few familiar faces in their line up. Gary Doherty moved to Charlton in July. The original Ginger Pele had one of his most memorable games for us in a cup tie against Charlton when he almost singlehandedly dragged us back from the dead in 2001. 2-0 just after half time we eventually won 4-2. Johnny Jackson, self confessed Gooner in a Spurs shirt, scored the last goal for us in another 4-2 win, this one though was in the league and in 2004.
Christian Dailly (West Hamâ€™s subject of the original version of the Gomes song) features at the back regularly. Unfortunately the nostalgically named Bally Smart doesnâ€™t get a game blocking the opportunity of any circus-based puns.
Pletikosa, Pav, Defoe, Kranjcar, Corluka, Sandro will probably play and even the lesser-spotted Giovani may get a run out. Bale, Modric and VdV should be on the bench at best. How near they are to being sold or at least how prominently theyâ€™re in the shop window will dictate the likelihood of seeing Keane or Bentley. A chance to say goodbye to Robbie would be welcome, his new employers (whoever they are) wonâ€™t want him cup tied though.
An under strength team against a lower division side eager to impress new owners and a prospective new manager. Chuck in complacency and youâ€™ve a recipe for disaster. Replace it with confidence and youâ€™ve a comfortable win on your plate.
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