Just looking at the schedule for December, I counted 10 matches in 32 days starting from December 1st to January 1st. 6 away games and 4 home games, 2 Uefa Cup games ? 1 home and 1 away, 2 back-to-back away games at West Ham, 1 away game at ManU and 1 home game to Arsenal. Doesn?t get much tougher than this !
Immediately after this period, we will be losing maybe 4 African stars from January 10 (for the African Nations Cup) for about 1 month. Do we have the depth in squad, especially the mid-field and defence to tide over this period ?
Of course, Moyes would be more than aware of the challenge and surely, he would have planned out his strategies. But, it got me speculating on the possibilities for back-ups to cover injuries, player fatigue, etc.
We have plenty of options in the striking department, so that is not a point of worry. The mid-field is thin ? our present first-choice 5-man midfield has hardly any backup (Pienaar, Carsley, Cahill, Osman, Arteta) ? only Gravesen and the dreadful Neville & Jagielka in the holding positions. Time to give the likes of AvDM, Anderson, maybe even Vidarsson/Kissock a chance or two? Maybe, McFadden will be called in to play at left wing at some point of time. Also, since Valente is playing so well at left-back, Moyes may think about pushing Baines to left midfield ?
[Feeling slightly better, already?.]
The defence looks settled, but it takes only a couple of injuries to show up the bare cupboard. But, here are the defensive combinations:
Neville & Hibbert for right-back. Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott & Jagielka for the 2 centre-back positions. Baines and Valente for left-back.
[Feeling much better now?]
Come on, December, we are ready!!
Ajay Gopal, Posted 26/11/2007 at 08:30:52
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1 Posted 26/11/2007 at 14:28:58
We have got enough depth not to have to resort to using VDM or Vidarsson and Da Silva is on loan anyway. We need our big players for big matches UEFA Cup and the League Cup is a passport to Europe, a signing or 2 in January possibly a loan acquistion to cover for African players, no need to panic bring on the games thats what its all about
2 Posted 26/11/2007 at 16:45:49
3 Posted 26/11/2007 at 17:24:35
4 Posted 26/11/2007 at 18:52:18
If David Moyes and the squad haven’t prepared well enough for it then they haven’t been doing thier jobs properly.
The three crucial matches are Portsmouth away, St Petersberg home and West Ham in the Cup. Winning them will make it easier on our long term form and fortunes.
5 Posted 26/11/2007 at 19:04:21
6 Posted 26/11/2007 at 19:13:42
7 Posted 26/11/2007 at 18:58:19
Look at how much better the side plays with Cahill and Arteta. If one of them get’s injured, there is no-one good enough to fill their place.
I hope to God we do not see Jags/Neville in midfield to cover again.
Injuries are inevitable over this hectic period, and we should all be praying for the likes of Cahill to come through unscathed.
8 Posted 26/11/2007 at 23:30:54
Yes, we are a lot worse without Cahill and Arteta...
...but, doesn?t this apply to all good teams?
Man U are a lot worse without Ronaldo
Chelsea are a lot worse without Lampard
Liverpool are just an average team without Gerrard
9 Posted 26/11/2007 at 23:42:01
The form we are in right we shouldn’t be worried about facing anyone and wanting to play as much as possible!
10 Posted 27/11/2007 at 12:36:53