One point, three games. Generally the solution at AANP Towers when things are not quite tickety-boo is to drink plenty of water and wait it out. In extreme circumstances we have even been known to chew on some raw garlic. However, something a little more drastic will probably be required from our heroes tonight, to shake them from the alarming torpor that characterized Saturday’s performance.
Things have gone so wildly awry in the league that we are now level on points with Liverpool, who I’m pretty sure were about to sack their manager and explode in a ball of flames a moment ago. There is nevertheless a salutary lesson to be gleaned from their fortunes, in providing evidence of the wholesome benefits of a string of consecutive victories. Three wins on the bounce has Liverpool back in contention for the top four; we now find ourselves playing host to Sunderland and Blackburn within the space of a week, a double-header that suggests that if we play our cards right by Saturday night we could find ourselves breathing down the necks of those rotters from l’Arse and Man City once again.
No Aaron Lennon, which suggests that Niko Kranjcar or David Bentley might be invited to watch in awe as Alan Hutton goes surging beyond them on the right. If fit, VDV and Hudd will presumably return to central midfield, while I imagine Jeans has also risen up the midfield pecking-order, simply by virtue of not being Palacios or Sandro; and Pav for Crouch is the logical but by no means certain alteration in attack.
It appears that Darren Bent is absent for the other lot tonight – bad news for my Fantasy League team, but good news from a lilywhite perspective, as Bent, like Kevin Davies, is one of those types who always seems rather likely to find our net one way or t’other. This means that the dashed exciting Asamoah Gyan ought to be in action for Sunderland tonight, representing another useful test for Younes Kaboul. I am beginning to grow quite fond of the boy Kaboul. He blinking well needs to iron out those lapses in concentration – sliced clearances and whatnot – but it’s nice to see someone big, strong and quick on the prowl in our defence. As that evil Emperor chap noted of Darth Vader when he was still a fiendishly annoying young whippersnapper, I shall watch his career with interest.
With the Champions League anthem removed from the playlist for the next week or two I have supreme confidence in our heroes tonight, and indeed on Saturday. A return to our daring, doing best ought to do the trick, for when our lot start to purr, particularly at the Lane, few sides in Christendom can live with us.