Itâ€™s back to league business on Saturday as we take on Burnley at WHL. Ralph Coates, Wembley in the early sixties,Â Dave Thomas, Leighton James, black puddings and flat caps â€“ smell the nostalgia.Â
Last seasonâ€™s semi final meetings mean that there is no way weâ€™ll underestimate our opponents, the 4-1 scoreline from the home leg obviously doesnâ€™t reveal Burnleyâ€™s domination before half time. Michael Dawson led the fight back in the second forty five meaning that he should have a good feeling about this weekendâ€™s game as he prepares himself for his first league appearance of the season. Who will play alongside him is anyoneâ€™s guess at the moment. If Bassongâ€™s knee keeps him out then Harry may be tempted to start with Huddlestone. This will allow him to play all of Big Tom, Palacios and Jenas and also keep Corluka in his preferred position at right back. Alan Hutton has had several opportunities lately and has struggled in every one, the promotion of Kyle Naughton to a spot above him in the reckoning must be becoming more likely all the time.
In goal Gomes probably did enough on Wednesday to ensure he gets his place back. Cudicini has done little wrong but the Brazilianâ€™s extra agility has caught the eye. This is a relatively straightforward decision compared to the one about what to do on the left side of midfield. Thereâ€™s also a bit of dilemma about who to play up front after all three fit strikers scored at Deepdale. Harry does like Keane and we are short of a bit of leadership on the field so it is unlikely that Robbie will get dropped. Redknapp may go down the route of moving him out to the left as against Birmingham and Man United, thus â€˜solvingâ€™ both the Modric and Crouch problems in one go. Playing Niko Kranjcar would provide a more balanced team â€“ if he doesnâ€™t get a game soon heâ€™ll start wondering exactly why he was bought – and Gareth Bale is fit again (but for how long?) and provides a tempting alternative. So Harry has plenty of options and after the questionable tactics employed against Man U and Chelsea, letâ€™s hope he chooses the right one.
Burnley have yet to score away from home this season but our â€˜openâ€™ style of play means that weâ€™ve yet to keep a clean sheet so theyâ€™ve every chance of nicking one in this game. Now that Everton and Aston Villa have found some form itâ€™s vital that we win if weâ€™re going to avoid getting sucked back into the pack and even with the current injury mini crisis, we should be optimistic about doing so.
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