After the glamour of Tuesday night’s European jaunt, it’s the seedier side of this Champions League lark today, with our travel-weary heroes heading up north for a fixture that is not quite ideal. Still, if we are to progress in Europe we will need to get used to this business of returning to Premiership fare with a trip to less than entirely salubrious locations.
The fall-out from Tuesday suggests that our lot have just returned from Afghanistan rather than Berne. Defoe, Keane, Pav, Modders and Giovani all apparently ended up amongst the bodies strewn across the Astroturf, and as a result the gangly one will plough a lone furrow up top today.The injuries in attack suggest that ‘Arry may now be forced into adopting some variant of 4-5-1, having occasionally dabbled in it in pre-season. I must confess to feeling ever so slightly baffled at the level of apoplexy that adherence to 4-4-2 seems to generate these days. The hip kids apparently play 4-2-3-1, with plenty of it on show during the World Cup, while a 4-3-3 is the modus operandi for the great and good on their Champions League away days. Thus, in the wake of the Young Boys debacle ‘Arry copped a fair amount of flak for loading up with ammo, removing the safety-catches and going out all guns blazing with 4-4-2. However, the 4-4-2 served us remarkably well in the Premiership, notably in the victories over l’Arse and Chelski, as well as away to Man City, and everything seemed tickety-boo last week at home to City too. I can’ t help thinking that the personnel gets overlooked for formation sometimes, but nevertheless, a 4-5-1/4-3-3 beckons this afternoon.
After effectively dropping two points last week, a win would be particularly welcome today, and come the end of the season, if we are to challenge for fourth again, Stoke away is one from which we would really need three points.
Musings On William Gallas Of All People
By the pricking of my thumbs William Gallas this way comes.
Well first things first: on the credit side, the car-crash that was the first half hour against Young Boys suggests that we would benefit from a central defender with the experience to marshal troops, organise bodies and generally steady the ship whenever it stops violently a-rocking. Gallas also ticks off one of the criteria on AANP’s pre-season wish-list, for an older head to come into the squad and provide a spot of off-the-pitch guidance as well as on-pitch nous, à la Naybet and Davids in years gone by. Moreover, Gallas knows the ins and outs of the English game as well as any defender around.
However, to put it rather euphemistically, the signing has been granted with full-blown wariness at AANP Towers. The blighter has something of a history of upsetting his colleagues and lobbing his toys from the pram, so it remains to be seen quite how positive an influence he has on the squad. As well as this, when we secured fourth at the end of last season, and rubbed our hands in Champions League-inspired glee, Gallas’ was not amongst the list of stellar names anyone had in mind for our summer shopping.
Moreover, I suspect I’m not alone in feeling downright unclean at the prospect of pilfering someone from that ‘orrible lot down the road. I’ve spent much of my adult life loathing William Gallas, and occasionally even expressing the sentiment through the medium of words. From now on I suppose he will receive some polite encouragement from this quarter I suppose, but with the illogical approach fairly unique to a football fan I just don’t like the idea of buying a player from our rivals. If ‘Arry wanted an experienced centre-back to shore things up, I would have thought there were others around to whom he could have turned. Off the top of my head, for example, that Mexican lad Marquez went from Barca to the MLS this summer (I think, may be wrong). He may not necessarily be the chap for us, but just as an example it suggests that there are other players of the required ilk out there, and if ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums had banged their heads together for a couple of hours, they’d have sore heads and quite possibly a list of likely candidates, without having to resort to shopping at the Emirates.
Still, every time I have doubted ‘Arry (from the comfort of my armchair) he has proved me wrong, so I’ll back him on this one too. Through gritted teeth I proclaim: William Gallas, AANP Towers welcomes thee to White Hart Lane.