Another Monday night fixture looms at the Grove following a weekend dominated by Cup Semi-Final action. More on that later – what can we expect tomorrow?
Wigan have been playing themselves out of trouble with attacking and positive football recently, urged on by the diminutive and likeable Martinez. In the past few weeks they’ve beaten Liverpool, Stoke and ManUre, taking full advantage of the latter’s complacency last week and fully deserving the three points. Not only are they in pretty good form, they are also healthy. Only Rodallega is a doubt with a knee problem, but he’ll have a fitness test tomorrow. Moses could cause us trouble, and Maloney (another energetic shortarse) is lively and capable. The keeper Al-Habsi can outperform his teammates when he’s in the mood, but he’s been inconsistent this season. I was going to trot out the lazy ‘good shot-stopper’ line, but Premier League keepers generally are good shot-stoppers, or they wouldn’t be there. ‘Robinson’ you respond. ‘Exception that proves the rule’ I reply, being lazy again.
We have to do without Kozza who is still suspended. Gibbs is iffy – apparently his groin has been ‘tired’ recently. I suppose this is not a surprise; his groin is a sickly waif at the best of times, unlike Song whose groin enters Triathlons all on it’s own, and likes to do a spot of shark diving during the holidays. I did hear a rumour that Kozza’s groin served six years in the Foreign Legion, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the story. It remains to be seen whether his Gibbs’ groin can drag itself out of the scratcher to make an appearance, or whether it’ll stay at home, tucked in under the kingsize duvet, watching Game of Thrones on the flatscreen with a tub of Haagen Daz vanilla.
If Gibbs groin doesn’t show up Santos will play, which may cause issues. I like Santos. A lot. He has character. He also has more attacking instinct than a Viking Berserker on crystal meth, which – if you’re a full back – can cause problems. So given that Gervinho will probably make it but won’t be match fit, and given that Benayoun & Rosicky having been playing very well, I have the feeling that our midfield/attack selection will resemble the one that knocked seven shades out the Spuds in in February. It makes sense to pick players of experience who will know when to cover the vast expanse of territory down the left as Andre bombs forward, waving his broadsword over his head and screaming about Odin, Asgard and joining the Einherjar.
We had a warning against QPR a couple of weeks ago, and I will be shocked as well as gutted if we don’t apply sufficient focus and application tomorrow. I know we turned Wigan over last December 4-0, but that counts for nothing now. We cannot afford to make dodgy mistakes, or give them a sniff of anything. As you know, if we win we go eight points clear of the scum and ten points ahead of the chavs. Martinez is an affable sort of bloke, but I don’t want to see him smiling in his post-match interview. Let’s hope the losses handed out to Blackburn and QPR yesterday take a bit of edge off their mindset, if you see what I mean.
Which brings me to the Cup. My disappointment at seeing the world’s most expensive carthorse clinch a final place for Liverpool yesterday has been more than erased by the 5-1 crushing handed out to S***s this afternoon. It’s just a pity that it was Chelsea that inflicted the damage. The result is a final that has to be billed as the ‘Clash Of The Racists’™, fought out by two clubs who have distinguished themselves this season with notable displays of indignant self-righteousness, unintelligence, and moral ambivalence. If there were any justice, they’d play the game out between themselves and then give the cup to David Moyes or Owen Coyle, either of whom is more deserving. Personally, I’ll be washing my socks that day.