Filed: Monday, 22nd February 2010
By: Preview Percy
We were hoping that he might have forgotten that there was a midweek match on. Unfortunately somebody reminded him. Preview Percy takes a look at our forthcoming trip to Old Trafford.....
Next we venture north to Salford for an 8pm kick-off against the red bit of that part of the world.
They currently sit in second place, four points behind that other “brand” Chelsea, having gone down to 3-1 to Everton at the weekend. The defeat was put down by the ever cheerful “Sir” Alex Ferguson to “tiredness” following their trip to Milan in midweek. Still no doubt they’ll be happy with the Sky money that came in as a result of the early kick-off at Goodison.
It’s been a less than fluent defence of their title so far. They’ve won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six. However their home form is more impressive, having won their last five in a row since losing to Villa on 12 December last year. However, it should be noted that Leeds picked up a 1-0 win in the Cup at the start of the year.
Much has been made of their defensive problems this season, where a settled back four at Old Trafford has been as rare as a Mancunian accent in recent months. The reason for this has been injuries to their first choice partnership in the middle of Ferdinand and Vidic. Vidic was fit enough to return to the bench at the weekend and may be available to start. Ferdinand will also return following a four match ban following the club’s cynical manipulation of the appeal system that enabled him to play in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final.
It’ll be interesting to see what side they put out on Wednesday night. On the one hand, they’ve not been above resting players in advance of major matches. On the other, the Carling Cup is a tournament in which clubs have been known to field less than full strength teams. So, do they rest players in advance of a cup final or do they play all the big guns in an attempt to close the gap on Chelsea? I suspect it will be the latter, especially in view of the authorities’ recent decision to fine Wolves for infringement of the rarely invoked rule concerning team strength. Also, let’s face it; to them the Carling Cup is a mere bauble. The financial rewards aren’t great and they’re already nailed on to finish in a so-called “Champions” League position so European qualification isn’t an issue.
We can thus expect to see the likes of Rooney starting. The spud-faced granny botherer is in a rich vein of form at the moment, though he failed to score against his old club at the weekend. There are rumours that he may be given a rest on the bench for this one, though, frankly I’ll believe it when I see it.
Their goal at Goodison came from ex-Spud Dimitar Berbatov. The goal meant that he has narrowed the gap between himself and “Own Goals” in the race to become second top scorer behind spud face.
One player who hasn’t had much of a look in of late has been Michael Owen. Whilst his move to Salford was widely regarded as a shrewd move on Taggart’s part, it’s not one that has proved to be fruitful for either party. Owen himself has all but conceded that his lack of a run in the first team is likely to mean that he will spend the summer watching events from South Africa on the box like the rest of us.
In addition to Ferdinand, Michael Carrick will be the other ex-Hammer in the squad. Such was their lack of defenders when we played them at home in December, Carrick was drafted in to play centre back when the loathsome Gary Neville pulled up with injury in the first half.
One star name who will be absent for this one is the evergreen Ryan Giggs. The Welshman managed to break his elbow in the 1-1 draw at Villa earlier this month. As injuries go it’s a strange one and I’m not sure it’ll catch on in football circles in the same way as the good old-fashioned hamstring or even the more recent broken metatarsal that David Beckham made so popular. Another long-term absentee will be Owen Hargreaves, their own version of Kieron Dyer.
For our part it seems likely that Benni McCarthy will miss this one again. It would be nice if, just once, we could sign a player that doesn’t get injured. However, up front is one area in which we now have cover. Ilunga and Daprela will also be missing through injury, along with, er, Gabbidon and Dyer.
Zola mentioned after the Hull match that he might make changes for this one. It would not come as too much of a surprise, therefore, were he to revert to a 4-5-1. Assuming that the groin niggle that led to Cole’s substitution at the weekend is not a problem one might then see Franco and Noble swap places on the bench.
Let’s be clear about this. Despite the recent improvement in form, this one will still be a toughie. Our cause won’t have been helped by their defeat at the weekend – it’s rare that they lose two on the trot at the best of times, and the fact that they will want to go into the weekend as close as possible to Chelsea will, no doubt, prompt a reaction. Against that is the fact that we have been improving, though the opposition will undoubtedly give a sterner test than Birmingham and Hull were able to provide in recent weeks.
Try as I might I can’t see us coming home with anything from this. Their need for the win is just too great and the assistance that they will no doubt get from compliant officials will probably be too much of a mountain to climb. It’ll require more than the threat of a 25% pay cut to get anything out of this one. Free vouchers at Ann Summers might do the trick but, in the absence of such incentives, I can see us going down 3-0 to a Rooney-inspired backlash. Sorry.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Lost 2-0 - a Ronaldo double was enough to sink us in a match where we failed to show any threat as an attacking force.
Danger Man: Wayne Rooney – the way he is playing at the moment means that the defence will have its work cut out. Also Michael Owen – if he gets on he has a worrying goalscoring record against us. Oh and “Own Goals” who has scored so many for them this season.
Referee: Alan Wiley – Seen earlier this season evoking the spirit of Clive Thomas in disallowing a Carlton Cole effort up at Wigan by blowing the half-time whistle just before the ball crossed the line. Let’s hope he remembers Taggart’s accusations of a lack of fitness earlier on in the season and acts accordingly.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
by Simon ( Bubble) Walker
06:25PM 23rd Feb 2010
''I hope the West Ham players have more confidence than you. I predict a win for the mighty Irons. We have started to play with class and confidence and I have faith.''
10:01PM 22nd Feb 2010
''I just hope we have a go at Man U just like the way Leeds did. I hope we don't let them settle. Hopefully we will play with three attackers who are pacy and can finish so we can catch them on the counter attack and stick our chances away.''
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