I am not quite certain how we lost our cherished banana skin outfit but its pretty clear that Man.Utd found it. There is no reward for its safe return. Keep it, you're welcome. We still have the casual wear Premiership 'blip' jacket but with any luck we will soon dispose of this too. By a peculiar irony we drew Leeds, at The Lane in the next round of the Cup. So far in the Carling and F.A.Cups against teams in the lower leagues (Doncaster, Preston and Peterborough ) we have won handsomely, scoring 14 goals against 2.
I am outside the UK at the moment and for the first time in months I couldn't get a stream or even a live commentary for the Peterborough game so had to make do with the Official Site live text. But I've now read enough blogs, fan sites, newspaper reports and watched the video highlights so many times that I feel as if I was actually there.
By all accounts we dominated the game; their goalkeeper was outstanding and just as we were beginning to think the worst Kranjcar popped up with a beauty to settle the nerves. As I had forecast we ran out more than comfortable winners and the boy Bale started a winning game again although not in the Premiership. He clocked up two assists and will have his chance to put the Premiership hoodoo behind him this week at Anfield. Gomes once again made a couple of fine saves later on when we got bored. Dawson and the Croatians were outstanding again: Keane was not
The fact that my forecasts are getting more accurate is not down to some mystical influence on my part, well not completely anyway, but because the team itself is playing more predictably. It is playing with more confidence in itself, the players with each other and reaping the rewards of a settled squad.
The Liverpool game is more of a 'mustn't lose' rather than a 'must win' as a draw would preserve the 4 point gap between us. However a win would deal a mortal blow to Liverpool's top four hopes. It would be better to watch and more effective if we took the game to them as we play better in attacking mode and even at Anfield they are vulnerable having lost twice already.
With 19 games left no single result is crucial in itself but in terms of confidence and relieving the pressure a draw would maintain our breathing space. But the double over Liverpool for the first time since 1986/7, I think, would at least launch us into the second half of the battle for the top four in style. It's 16yrs since we beat them at Anfield (1993/4: goals by Sheringham) but we only with drew with them at home that year.
Lennon, Ekotto and Woodgate are definitely out; but Jenas, Defoe and King could all be fit for Sunday. Will Harry rely on the fluidity of Kranjcar and Modric in midfield alongside Palacios and Huddlestone? Or away from home will he play more defensively and use Jenas to give us width and pace in midfield, on the opposite wing to Modric? Bale will need support when he gets forward so I would play Jenas there. It's a pity that O'Hara isn't back from Portsmouth.
Defoe will probably start with Crouch who is useful defensively at set pieces.. Torres though not quite at peak form is always dangerous as he proved against Aston Villa but I back King against him. Gerrard needs closing down quickly. Kyte is honest but lacks the pace to trouble our Gareth and with Johnson out we might make some profit down the left.
Liverpool will be looking to make a statement but they may have picked the wrong team to make it against. They will certainly be more nervous than us and have more to lose. The official JG2 forecast after all this is a draw (1-1 ) .The importance of winning might just get to us, although it didn't against Man.City, and home advantage might inspire Liverpool to play above their current level. My heart tells me that we could win it in a tight game but my head tells me that a draw is the likely result and not totally unacceptable to them ,us, me or Harry. But you could always upset the oracle boys by making it a double, I won't really mind.
I am studiously ignoring all newspaper transfer and ITK speculation until I read confirmed signings on the Official Site although this is a pledge I have ignored on several occasion when excitement, disbelief or sheer irritation overwhelms me.