The absences of King, Woodgate, Lennon, Modric and Defoe force most of the changes upon us irrespective of the prioritising. The only optional changes ‘Arry is likely to make are in attack – where I suspect most of us would like to see Pav get his chance anyway – and in the full-back positions.
My tuppence worth is that I don’t particularly want to see Hutton and Bale in for Charlie and BAE at full-back. This has less to do with the quality of the personnel (I’m rather a fan of Bale as it happens) as the fact that our team is already mightily disrupted with all the injuries. Making unenforced changes on top of those is asking for trouble, particularly in defence, where in the absence of Ledley the players sometimes appear a little uncertain as to the names of the chaps alongside them. All members of our squad are capable Premiership-standard players, but make too many changes and the team’s performance could be as aimless as those half-time exercises.
I’ll be curious as to whether Sergeant Wilson starts. An injury or suspension to him really would give our squad for Saturday the look of a man who’s had his spine ripped from his body, something ‘Arry will presumably have taken into account. However, without him tonight we find ourselves looking towards the might of Jenas and Hudd to boss the game. Forgive me for feeling a little underwhelmed at the prospect, particularly as Tim Cahill in the opposition ranks will give us a glimpse of what we’re missing in central midfield. Still, after flattering to deceive against Stoke Jenas and Hudd owe us a good performance each.
So a rare opportunity for the squad players, and added responsibility on the shoulders of Dawson, Jenas, Hudd and Crouch. Not necessarily a line-up to have Everton quivering in their boots, but I’m pinning my hopes on home advantage seeing us through.