We are back to domestic affairs on Saturday as Aston Villa come to town. Itâ€™s not a visit to get the pulse racing, the tree trunks that tend to follow Martin Oâ€™Neill around are still in the ascendancy in the Villa side and itâ€™ll be a year or so before Houllier has filled the team with French starlets. Wengerâ€™ll be annoyed that someone else with inside knowledge of the game in France has the resources to hang around outside schools in Lyon, Lille and Marseille waving fat contracts.
Those of our players who arenâ€™t hobbling will have a spring in their step after Wednesday; big Tom in fact may feel like throwing in his version of the Ali Shuffle following the comments of Twenteâ€™s Marc Janko. “He smashed his arm right into my faceâ€ he said, hilariously followed by â€œand when I showed the ref my bleeding nose, he smiled at me.” Well maybe thatâ€™s because the Spurs player had the beating of you and instead of admit that you clung on like a desperate spinster at the flinging of the bouquet. Huddlestone got the free kick I seem to remember.
Weâ€™ll be short of defenders as per usual these days. Thereâ€™s a good chance weâ€™ll see another outing for the Charlie & Bassong partnership that did so badly at Upton Park last weekend. They needed both more protection than they got from Jenas and Huddlestone and also more people in front of them capable of following the runners from midfield. Surely a job for Sandro? Maybe. Harry will want to shake things up in the hope of avoiding the Moneybags League hangover weâ€™ve shown ourselves vulnerable to so perhaps giving the Brazilian his league debut will be an option. We live in hope.
Given the paucity of our resources up front Iâ€™d guess that Crouch will be given his third start in a week. He did only play for an hour on Wednesday after all. The same was true for Van der Vaart of course and no doubt Redknapp will be pondering the best way of fitting him and Modric into the line up.
Itâ€™s been a big week for the club what with the first CL game proper at WHL, plus the granting of planning permission for the replacement version and the public start of the game of Olympic Call My Bluff with West Ham. Expectations in the league have already been reset following recent results but a win here will engender a new feeling of optimism. Mark Clattenburg is the referee, a man who faces enough demons (remember Mendes) when he takes one of our games without Houllier scaring him with talk of â€˜imaginary monstersâ€™. A tough game but as usual if we start well, we have the talent to take the points.
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