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The Mail Bag

Tough Schedule Coming Up....

Comments (10)

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, Bangalore, India     Posted 26/11/2007 at 08:30:52

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Michael Newton
1   Posted 26/11/2007 at 14:28:58

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Burn the Africans out in December and knacker them for the ANC I say, so they get sent home in a week. (JOKE)
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
Gary Creaney
2   Posted 26/11/2007 at 16:45:49

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Not only that but if we are fortunate enough to beat St. Petersburg in the next Uefa Cup match then the liklihood is we will have topped the group and can afford to give a run out to a lot of players in the last (meaningless) Uefa Cupgame. Isn?t Da Silva back from his loan spell at Barnsley??

Seamus Murphy
3   Posted 26/11/2007 at 17:24:35

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He did come back Gary but has since returned to Barnsley
Barry Kingham
4   Posted 26/11/2007 at 18:52:18

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Old news. We’ve known about this fixture pile up for months.

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.
James Elworthy
5   Posted 26/11/2007 at 19:04:21

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The team has 7 full days from Sunderland to Portsmouth, I expect the same 11 on Saturday if Yobo is fit
Jimmy Willis
6   Posted 26/11/2007 at 19:13:42

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Bring it on.
Patrick Einsmann
7   Posted 26/11/2007 at 18:58:19

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We all know we are desperately short in midfield.

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.
Gavin Wadeson
8   Posted 26/11/2007 at 23:30:54

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I wouldn?t say that we are desperately short in midfield.

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
Andrew Weston
9   Posted 26/11/2007 at 23:42:01

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I can’t remember the last time we were still competing in four competition at the start of December so a fixture pile-up represents real progress doesn’t it?
The form we are in right we shouldn’t be worried about facing anyone and wanting to play as much as possible!
Mark Culpit
10   Posted 27/11/2007 at 12:36:53

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I know this is a problem that has already been talked about a fair bit, but we lose four key players in January to the ANC, but I was thinking we're not the only team to lose that many. Are we better off than our rivals (Portsmouth, Spurs, Blackburn etc) in terms of losing players?

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