“We need others to slip up” as AVB says which is true, but as he also says, we need to win our games, starting with Stoke with Stoke on Sunday.
Last season we were Chris Foy’led but we’ve had some good wins at the Britannia in the last few seasons; Gudjohnsen, Kranjcar and Bale have all scored memorable goals. The heart normally sinks at the thought of a battle with Pulis’s tree trunks, but the circumstances, i.e. the fact that their season’s over combined with our recent resilient and determined performances, make me feel strangely optimistic about this one.
Having said that, much of our play on Wednesday was typical of the way it’s been of late, uncertain at the back and lacking width and spark up front. Organisational, personnel and fitness problems are at the root of the problems I suspect, not many of which will be resolved in the few days between these games. Lennon’s been anonymous since he’s been back and Bale too is clearly carrying an injury. The news that Adebayor was also playing through the pain (probably a bit of a slight ache in his case) made his goal and general display all the more remarkable.
Team selection? I’m guessing that AVB will take the traditional anti-Stoke road of packing the defence and midfield with height so assuming there’s no change in the injury status of Dembele I’d guess that Dempsey and Sigurdsson might come in for Lennon and Holtby with Vertonghen moving to left back and Caulker replacing Assou-Ekotto.
After a string of bad, and briefly relegation threatening results, Stoke have picked up of late and taken enough points from QPR, Norwich and Sunderland to allow them to snooze quietly in mid-table. The usual suspects all seem to be fit and ready, Huth, Shawcross, Shotton, Walters and Jerome. Etherington made a substitute appearance last weekend; he’s had an injury-affected season.
Chelsea wasn’t the best result obviously but by not losing we at least force the gooners to win both of their remaining games. Any other than a win here though and in all likelihood it’s Europa League here we come. The referee is Kevin Friend. COYS.
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