Friday, 12 March 2010
Mind the gap
Look up all the statistics; home and away form; goals scored or whatever and there is clearly a yawning gap between Blackburn and ourselves. Let´s hope that the game doesn´t produce a yawning opportunity for the spectators. See what I did there? Although at this stage even I start to concede that good results start to edge out the requirement for good performances. But never entirely for me because I believe that good performances over a season produce the goods even if in a single game it doesn´t quite work out. Fill in your own examples. I´ll give you a clue: Wolves at home.
We have been very good defensively: more clean sheets than a Chinese laundry. We are at least two goals better than Blackburn so I make that 2 or 3-0. They have little to play for in terms of league position and we need the points to maintain our push for the you know what. However teams with no worries or prospects can sometimes surprise teams that are starting to come under pressure but Blackburn have shown little other than determination this season and I anticipate little to concern us. Even the prospect of Paul Robinson playing a blinder should not be enough.
We have our excuses ready made in terms of injuries but we overcame them away to Fulham, a better team than Blackburn, so we surely will again. Kaboul is available and perhaps Bentley but we could well see the same starting line up as last week: Ekotto in defence and Bale at left midfield. Harry is not one for changing things round without good reason.
Unless Wilson has departed for Real Madrid, Kaboul will be kept in reserve and Modric will start in the middle. Let´s hope he gets into the game more quickly this week as without Huddlestone we are a little short of creativity. I would play Bale at full back and Modric down the left as he seems to create space when he moves inside for the boy Gareth but it worked out last week with Ekotto and Harry will probably stick with it.
With Defoe available I hope we go with him and Pavlyuchenko. Last week revealed no spark between Crouch and Pavlyuchenko so let´s hope that Harry´s sentimental affection for his Portsmouth´connections doesn´t see him reverting to Crouch and Defoe. I don´t think that Crouch will stand up any better to the physicality of the Blackburn defence. We need to keep the ball moving from the midfield at pace and both Kranjcar and Modric have the ability to do this while Wilson minds the store.
If we win we can enjoy yet another week in the you know what and with winnable games to come, before we meet Arsenal and test Harry´s gap closing predictions, then the last few games begin to look very interesting. Very interesting indeed. Form can go out of the window when the going gets tough in the final phase of the season. It could all be settled one way or the other by then, either by our own collapse or that of some or all of our rivals.
Somehow I don´t think so and it looks like going down to the wire with upsets all over the place. Lets hope that tomorrow lunchtime isn´t the first upset of many. Only joking.