Make no bones about it, even at this early stage in the season Sunday’s match is a must-win. The next five fixtures starting with this one are under the ‘winnable’ umbrella and anything less than 9 points from these set of games will set the scene for a relegation dogfight in the months to come. We come from the back of the international break with fresh injury concerns as Tim Krul picked up a bad knee injury over in Kazhakhstan, leaving us with the prospect of Rob Elliot in nets for this crucial period, as much as I want to be positive I don’t think we’ve seen much of this guy that suggests he’s a Premier League standard stopper he’s also a bit of a fat bastard who holds our supporters in contempt I heard; if there’s even a sniff of an opportunity to take out an emergency loan we ought to go for it.
Our last match was an odd one and I don’t want to dwell on it too much, I travelled down for this one and despite the jubilation and seemingly good football put on display during the first half; there was always the feeling that this would crumble before our very eyes. The second half felt like a severe acid trip, time momentarily stopped and we conceded about twenty goals in a minute or something like that. Anyways, we move on; it was a game we were never likely to win and I wouldn’t want to judge us on it although question marks over the players heart and commitment are justified given the manner of the defeat.
Our approach to this game should be simple, get the crowd onside by setting the tempo in the first ten minutes. The game against Chelsea and also the final home game of last season against West Ham need to act as a benchmark as to how we play and how the team shapes its identity. It’s in our best interest to play with a high tempo, harass in midfield, get the ball out wide and pepper the opposition with balls into the box when we’re at home. When you make a sizeable investment in a guy like Mitrovic (who I like by the way; keep him fit and we won’t go down) you need to play to his strengths, we seem to have clocked the first part of that by putting Ayoze alongside him. The next step is by getting the ball into the areas he wants it in, I watched him play for Serbia last week and he was visibly enraged every time one of his wingers checked back inside or took one too many touches; hopefully he’s made clear in training what he expects from midfield and fullbacks.
Expected back for this one are Daryl Janmatt, Paul Dummett, Haidara and Colback. The feeling is that Dummett will probably walk into that left back spot when he’s fully fit but given his lengthy lay off I’d be surprised to see him out there on Sunday. Hopefully that extra hour on the drink gives us that bit extra energy and we get behind the team early on, the importance of this game can’t be lost on anybody in the stadium.
Howay The Lads