Saturday, 4 April 2009
Team For Sunderland.
Zola faces a few selection dilemmas ahead of the game today. At the back, assuming Upson isn't saving himself for England games and Collins for the Welsh, a choice has to be made between Tomkins and Ginge. Up front, it is a case of "Is there anybody on the books who can score?" and in midfield, "Who is fit and how adventurous are we prepared to be?".
Lessons can perhaps be learned from the victory at Sunderland but, the more I think about that game, the more the conundrum deepens (do conundrums deepen?). At the back, Collins had a Tale of Two Cities, the best of times and the worst of times. Second half, the Sunderland crosses unerringly found that shock of receding red hair in our penalty box. By the end of the game, Collins must have had a headache! However, Cisse, in truth, gave him a torrid time and should have bagged three. After the game, there was plenty of discussion about whether Sunderland should have had a pen for Collins pulling down Jones in the box and whether Collins should have stayed on the pitch after a tangle of bodies when Neptune tried to burst clear. Go back to last season and Jones mugged Upson all game at Upton Park and we were lucky to come away with a 3-1 victory, scoring twice in the last ten minutes. I would go with Tomkins and Upson personally, trusting to their pace to counter the threat of Cisse running onto the ball 'over the top' but I say that with no real conviction. Jones might then bag two with his head! Neill will revert to right back and Ilunga is a given on the left of defence.
Up front, it sounds as if Zola has decided to go with Tristan. I can see the sense in that because we need somebody to play off. However, there was no big man up front when we beat Sunderland on their dung heap, Bellamy and Sears buzzed around and ran Sunderland's back four ragged. And it was Bellyache who came on and destroyed Sunderland at UP last season. I'm pleased we sold Period Pains, £14m was a fantastic settlement, but boy could we do with him today. Anton must be smiling at the prospect of stopping Di Michele and Tristan on his first return to the Boleyn. There can't be many less potent strike forces in the Prem if we are honest. A whole season with those two up front would spell relegation!
What about more daring alternatives? Personally I would love to see Dyer start, playing just behind Tristan with Savio wide left and Stanislas wide right. That is the only line up that I can see putting Blunderland onto the back foot. With Parker and Kovac (if fit) anchoring midfield, we should look to camp in Sunderland's half and terrify their full backs with pace.
So my team would read: Green; Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga; Stanislas, Kovac, Parker, Savio; Dyer, Tristan. However, I anticipate seeing Di Michele for Dyer and Boa-Morte for either Stanislas or Savio as Clarke persuades Zola to play it safe. I never predict results but I am not confident! Have a great day anyway Marty!
Postscript: I forgot Noble! How did I forget Noble?