Evening Positive heads and a late epistle before settling down to an evening of midweek football. How unlucky that the new TV deal was not signed that would have allowed me to watch the two masters of the long ball in action at the Britannia tonight ! I shall hide my disappointment.
I presume we all saw last night’s game and not much new I can think to say. A good first half, two up and a game we appeared to be cruising to an easy victory, though Leicester were not lying down. Followed by a second half in which we lost our momentum and saw out the game amid much relief. No real explanation for it. The passing game fell apart. The required three points banked but disappointing injuries to Alexis and Aaron. Is it a curse ? Sometimes it feels like it. I have to admit the sense of second half unease has led to a day of inward reflection on the season. My mood, like the sky, has been a little chilled and grey.
Anyway I did not come on to navel gaze but to highlight our next three games, Boro on Sunday, Palace on the following Saturday and Monaco on the 25th February.
Three games that will, to whip out the well used epithet, “define our season” or DOS as I often refer to in the saloon bar of the Truss and Trumpet.
Three games against sides who we are better at football than. Almost no travelling required. Although the Leicester game came swiftly after the pain at the Lane I can’t see fatigue is likely to play much of a part over the next two weeks. We have added to our injury list but Jack is due back, Gabriel yet to play, Callum has had his feet up for a few weeks, as has Kieran and where is he boy Bielik ? No idea why Giroud was rested last night. We are not short of players.
Two domestic opponents who in Boro and Palace, on the times I have watched them, at least try to try to play football. That should suit us, especially Boro at home on a good surface and a late afternoon kick off. I fancy goals, and a hatful.
Palace will be more of a battle but the last time they beat us in a league game at Selhurst Park was on the 10th November 1979, or 35 years ago. And I am sorry Mr Pardew, but I do not believe that the weight of history is likely to turn over the course of the next few weeks. It does us no harm that Palace seem to have cemented PL survival just about. If they can turn over the Scousers on Saturday in the 5th round they may have the scent of Wembley in their nostrils by the time of our visit. I see a One-nil for the visitors.
Monaco provides the third hill to clamber over and probably, in terms of quality of the opposition, travel schedule, style of play, the hardest.
They sit 5th on the French League, and have put a fairly disastrous start to the league season behind them.
However looking at their results since the Christmas break they have patchy form, some wins, draws and a recent loss to Guingamp for the first time ever. Still a long way off a CL place. On the positive side the Monagasque have a solid defence, just 19 goal conceded in 24 games but are the lowest scorers among the top eight clubs, with just 25 goals. And just 4 goals in six CL ties compared to our 15. ( and yet they won their group ! ) Berbatov may still have a lovely touch but the Bulgarian is now past his 34th birthday and his body no longer as agile as his mind.
Two legs and another narrow victory. It has to be a win at the Ems though, no errors, no feeble effort.
No doubt the goddess of football will derail my carefully dreamed mosaic and impose her own demonic outcome, abetted by her crew of evil dwarves equipped with whistles.
Right, musing done and off to tonight’s footballing feast.