What ho! AVB has clearly been a good boy this year, with all manner of presents to snatch from the tree and wave excitedly at the parents. Parker, BAE and Kaboul are all at various stages of restored health, and Daws and Bale are apparently fit to go this very afternoon. Our brief bout of Balelessness was not as bad might have been feared, featuring the late debacle against Everton and slow grind against Swansea last week, but our heroes certainly look a lot more mortal without the handsome young Welshman galloping hither and thither, so hearty cheers have been cheered in this corner of the interweb at the news of his return.
Our heroes – and indeed our glorious leader, from whom the order presumably emanated – are to be lauded for the ankle-biting approach adopted last week, that had us pilfering possession in dangerous areas with some frequency. We may not be the same free-flowing purists of recent seasons but there is much to be said for the effectiveness of the kids-on-sweets-and-E-numbers approach of buzzing around opponents with manic enthusiasm. The principle attacking threat will presumably come from Bale, but the return of Parker also raises the intriguing question of whether Dembele might take a more attacking role, at some point over the festive period.
Who can possibly fail to love a visit from those lovable rogues from Stoke? Well AANP, for a start. Season after season that uncouth mob make the blood boil in a manner beyond even l’Arse or Chelski, with their negative, guileless, anti-football approach that borders on ABH. A recall for Daws may be in order today, as their last three or four visits to the Lane have seen them exhibit a principal tactic of lobbing the ball skywards and sharpening their elbows for its re-entry. My goodness I hope we stuff them something rotten today.