Even observing from across the Atlantic, AANP is well aware of the worrying signs that, for all the cheer and merriment created by our Champions League qualification, our heroes are doing a dashed good impression of a pack of mutts who have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m not quite sure how tiredness can be a factor so early in the season, particularly as many of the players had an international break, but there has been a sluggishness to our recent league form, and the forthcoming glut of CL games is unlikely to freshen up any of our heroes.
Still, we can worry about all that on Saturday. Playing in the Champions League cures all known ills, and there is probably no better way to drag the players out of their stupor than to parade them in the front of the cameras to the soundtrack of the CL theme tune and 36,000 braying lilywhites in the stands.
4-4-1-1 Again. Huzzah!
“Da more I interact with humans, da more I learn.”
So drawled Arnie in Terminator 2, undoubtedly the greatest film ever to grace the AANP Towers cinema reel, and our very own glorious leader is demonstrating a similar capacity to modify his behaviour in reaction to external circumstances. In such a manner was the 4-4-1-1 birthed, and as our heroes will be gambolling across foreign soil today, the designated away formation will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world once again. After Saturday’s periodically abysmal draw at West Brom confidence will be sky high amongst ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums that 4-4-1-1 will make us kings of Europe, and providing that Werder Bremen are no better than the WBA we should be absolutely fine.
Alas, our absentee list would make quite some 5-a-side team, with Gomes, Daws, Defoe and potentially Modders all staring forlornly from the sidelines, but the prospect of Ledley returning to the fold always soothes the savage beasts here at AANP Towers.
The addition of van der Vaart to our ranks reinforces the notion that our side is positively teeming with potential match-winners, and between them I fancy Bale, Kranjcar, Lennon, VDV, Hudd , Pav et al to grab a goal or two. However, this is no ordinary club competition, this is the Champions League – and with such power comes great responsibility, particularly at the back, where dubious defensive lapses will be magnified and punished. A point would represent a fine night’s work – on present form dare we hope for even more?