After the debacle of Sunday’s sleepy start an away trip to Lancashire is the last thing we need but with El Hadj in Glasgow and Big Sam despatched to his front parlour maybe this time a visit to the land of no points may produce some result. Earlier in the season we took a four goal lead before we gave two away to end up hanging on.
This time we arrive in poor form, “out of gas” and probably a little low on confidence so who knows what might happen. Thankfully Blackburn are also erratic and we beat them both times last season. Our job, should we choose to accept it is to keep them out and score ourselves; things that have become difficult in recent times.
Injury problems have decimated our centre backs and so a one match suspension for Dawson is the last thing we needed. Santa Cruz has a groin niggle and is unlikely to play so let’s be hopeful that Gallas and Bassong are commanding at the back. We have to hope so; Ledley undergoes another operation on Wednesday and Kaboul has already had one and will be absent. If things get really tough Woodgate may be called from the bench to make a return!
I would continue with Hutton and Ekotto allowing Corluka to sit on the bench. If that means he needs to come on then he can prepare for only one position – either full back or at centre back to protect Woody.
In midfield we really need to sort out our options. We need to get the tackling sorted out. Some weeks ago I thought Huddlestone would have a tough job to get back into the team; today he only needs to turn up to win his place back. Not the sort of competition we needed and with Tommy close but not ready it has to be Jenas tomorrow.
His instructions? Sit tight and win the ball get it to Lennon or Modric and let them do the rest. He has played well this season lets hope to see it continue tomorrow night.
Having failed to lose Kranjcar we have a choice between him and Pienaar. What a choice! Pienaar looked relatively comfortable at Newcastle but didn’t do anything awe inspiring. He pushed it around comfortably but what did he really achieve? At Fulham he was poor and should have come off instead of Sandro in my opinion.
So is Kranjcar better? Not on performances this season but if he was able to sit out left instead of roaming he could be useful. I think I might go with Niko as he might be more willing to attack than Pienaar whilst the South African settles in.
Modric needs to see plenty of the ball and I am sure that he will and Rafa needs to be further up the pitch putting pressure upon Blackburn’s box rather than picking the ball up on the half way line.
And so to up front. Which of the three? I called for us all to support our three strikers on twitter last night after the window closed for they are all we’ve got till the end of the season. What we need is Defoe to get onto the score sheet to give himself some confidence. But than Pav might produce a moment of brilliance and net one early or Crouch provide an assist to Van Der Vaart.
I think I might play Crouch to counter the height of Samba in defensive situations without Dawson in the side. But should that be from the start? We ought to go for a positive start and an early goal and that really calls for Defoe running channels and being available on the counter. The Villa victory seems a long time ago but we played really well in that game. For that reason I would stick with that formation. I would therefore go as follows for the team tomorrow:
Hutton Gallas Bassong Ekotto
Lennon Jenas Modric Kranjcar
Van Der Vaart Defoe
Prediction: I’m going back to my 2-1 Spurs but would take a point after Sunday.