It’s back in our hands! Six wins from our remaining six games and we’re guaranteed fourth at the very least. The first of these is against an in form Manchester City, still apparently clinging to the hope that they can overtake United at the top, but only in the same way desperate way that I cling to the dream that beer bellies will one day be classed as sexy.
Normally, and by that I mean if we had a reasonably fit and non-fatigued squad available, I’d feel quite cocky about giving Abu Dhabi’s playthings a run for their Riyals but with the vast majority of our width and speed still more likely to be on the treatment couch than on the pitch it’s hard to feel much optimism. A fit Bale and Lennon are crucial to our system and especially in the case of the former, our inspiration. Without them there’s plenty of perspiration but little in the way of spark.
The fallout from Basel hasn’t quite dispersed from the Twitter or Blogospheres as Adebayor in particular will have discovered if he’s foolish enough to read comments on websites like this one. The amount of personal abuse he’s received has been depressing to see. I doubt if even he sees himself as the future of Spurs on his form this season, the futile name-calling just fosters hostility and puts pressure on one of our own players, and this at a time when we’re struggling with atmosphere at WHL already. Against Everton he gave unarguably his best display of the season and we’ll need more of the same if we’re going to get anything on Sunday.
Our last league clean sheet was at the Hawthorns at the start of February. Chuck in Europe as well and we’ve conceded 15 goals in our last 7 games, an average of just over 2 per outing. Things aren’t going well at the back. Whether the midfield is stretched helping out the attack and isn’t doing its job or whether it’s the high pressing or the inexperience in defence showing I don’t know, but something isn’t right. There have been gaps created by the high line all season and, as we’ve seen before, someone who plays like Silva is ideally suited to making the most of those spaces. He missed last week’s semi final and the midweek game against Wigan but by all accounts should be back for the weekend. It’s vital that we stop him getting space. There are goal threats everywhere, Nasri, Toure, Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko etc etc. We’re going to have to vastly improve defensively to keep them out.
Assuming that none of Lennon, Bale or Defoe are risked, our side will be very similar to that which has played the last few games with Villas-Boas’ biggest decision being ‘I trust no-one at left back, who’s least likely to make a ricket of it?’. I’d stick Vertonghen in the middle and then ask him who he feels most comfortable playing alongside.
The Gooners will probably have won at Fulham by the time we play meaning that we’ll be playing catch-up which makes a change if nothing else. We’re good enough to beat City; we need to be at our best though. Cut out the mistakes at the back and take our chances at the front and we’ll be ok.
Lee Mason is the referee. COYS.
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