Champions League hangover? I should bloody coco. Nearly four days on and the disappointment of Tuesday night still stinks the place out. The inquests should be over and we should be regrouping but instead what with Adebayor being given air-time, and Aaron Lennon grabbing his own, to voice their own particular protests, plus Harry bleating about players over acting (in the Champions League? Really?) , the mood hasnâ€™t yet moved on from one of mourning to one of spirited togetherness and itâ€™s that quality that we oh so desperately need.
We face Stoke City on Saturday afternoon with much at stake and even more to prove. Itâ€™s not only our dignity that was given a battering on Tuesday, the injuries to Lennon and Corluka mean that our depleted squad is reduced even further. Itâ€™s perhaps lucky that we face a side in no danger of relegation and only a week away from an FA Cup semi final; thatâ€™ll hopefully mean that putting a foot in and risking being crocked themselves will be the last thing the Stoke players will want to do.
Gallas may well also be missing meaning weâ€™ll have only four fit defenders, one of whom is regularly cited as â€˜the best left winger in the worldâ€™. So weâ€™ll drop him back to left back and move Assou-Ekotto over to the right flank maybe? Two players out of position already. It doesnâ€™t look promising. Good job we signed all those young right backs a couple of years ago. Oh no, hang on a minute.
This game may mean the return of Huddlestone. Moving Bale backwards will leave an obvious place for him if Modric shifts to the left. Given that itâ€™s unlikely that Lennon will feature, who will play on the right is problematic. Van der Vaart has been tried there a few times with limited results but given the appearance of bare bones all over the place then just fitting eleven reasonably match fit individuals into the team is probably the limit of Harryâ€™s ambition. Personally Iâ€™d play Kranjcar â€“ at least he can shoot.
Should Crouch play he may be unsure of what reception heâ€™s likely to get. His ungainliness and erraticness in front of goal mean that he already isnâ€™t the most popular player with the home crowd but any prolonged abuse as a result of his idiocy in the Bernabeu will do no-one any good apart from those who like to point out the fickle nature of football fans and Spurs ones in particular. For the run in we need players at their best, full of confidence in themselves and the future. Boos and jeers wonâ€™t help that.
Four games without a goal, four league games without a win. If youâ€™re as good as your last game weâ€™re on the ragged side. Turn over Stoke with a confident display then next Wednesdayâ€™s game will look less like something you want to get over with and a little bit more like an opportunity for a devil may care shot at making a bit of history. COYS.
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