The news that Harry won’t be travelling this week due to a ‘medical procedure’ helps to explain his slightly hysterical reaction (“ahahahahahahahahahahahaha”) to Talksport’s Alan Brazil’s suggestion on Monday that he leave the Russian trip to “Kevin & Joe”. And if his absence is seen as one more negative aspect to the match then just add it to the pile as positive thinking in relation to our game in Kazan on Thursday evening appears hard to come by.
“It’s a long way”, “they’re a good team” and “we don’t have to win to qualify” are the main refrains but that’s why we’re going by plane, we’re a good team too and yes, we don’t have to win to qualify but the benefits of finishing top and avoiding the CL dropouts in the next phase are obvious. (That’s assuming we do by the way, I haven’t checked the rules). Plus, getting a good result here means that we don’t have to risk many players in the snow in Dublin in the middle of December, one of our busiest months for league fixtures.
It’s a competition we can win and so we might as well give it ago and I’m sure that’s how Redknapp thinks of it deep down despite his “it’s a nuisance” bluster; success in the cups though is a distant second priority to the league.
Who will play? Defoe, Gallas and Sandro could all do with a run out and I’m sure Pav (when not doubling up as translator), Gio, Bassong, Livermore and Carroll will be pencilled in as well. Add Cudicini; Rose and Townsend and, assuming the majority of all of those players are on their game, a decentish team starts to take shape. Corluka & Kranjcar haven’t been seen since the international break, which leaves right back as a problem area and the centre of midfield looking lightweight.
So we can put out a reasonable enough team, whether it’s one good enough to take on, on their own patch, a strong team that needs to win is a different matter. I’d take a draw myself. The officials are German. COYS.
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