Home to Swansea. Not a fixture that should cause the heart of any Champions League qualifying round place (as long as Chelsea don’t win the whole shebang) chasing team to skip a beat, but we’re not just any Champions League qualifying etc etc team. Short of goals and without a win in our last 5 league games we enter this one needing victory to bring back a bit of swagger and something approaching what we’d become used to as normality before 2pm on February 26.
I’ve not seen Swansea but by all accounts it’s going to be a case of beauty following the beast given that Stoke were our last league visitors. Getting the ball from them is apparently akin to wrestling the last falafel from the paws of a vaguely peckish Hossam Mido. We’ll need to be patient, and make the most of what possession we get.
The Swans lie tenth with 39 points with eight games to go and will rightly feel chuffed with themselves about it. Relegation has been avoided and it’s probably only natural for an end of season wind down to kick in. A surprising home loss to Everton last time out may indicate that this has already happened, it’s more likely though that they lost to a form team who got their tactics right. In general Swansea’s success has been based on their performances at the Victory stadium, their last away game ended in an impressive 3-0 win at Fulham however so they’ve proved they can do it outside south Wales.
One player who won’t be on show is Steven Caulker, a Spurs loanee who has been picked by Brendan Rodgers for virtually every game he’s been eligible and fit for. Caulker will be part of Redknapp’s plans for the future, no matter who he’s managing and will solve a lot of problems when he comes back to WHL next season.
Injurywise we’re in not too bad a state with Adebayor apparently back, fit and ok and Lennon ready to risk again. The formation tried against Chelsea and Bolton though is surely the way forward even though it’s so damn narrow. Unless there’s an early breakthrough it’s easy to see the game getting clogged in midfield until we bring on Lennon and some width. At the back, Gallas and Kaboul is my guess, given that neither played on Tuesday and both are fit as far as I’m aware.
Andre Marriner is due to referee. We’ve had him only once this season, the 5-0 v Newcastle.
After Tuesday’s win and with the semi-final to look forward to we should be approaching this one with a glint in our eye and a spring in our step. A win will prove that the bad times are over and we’re back on course for what we deserve. They’re a good side though and we’ll need to be at our best, and as I say, patient. COYS.
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