Friday, 2 January 2009

Forest preview

After the disappointment of Brighton in the League Cup, it's good to have another shot at a cup competition. All fans of all clubs say this every year, but I really think we could do something in the Cup this season. Our form has been terribly inconsistent so far, but we have shown that on our day we can beat anyone. Teams like Fulham or Wigan may feel like they have an outside shot, but our extra quality (plus, of course, whoever we buy this month) may be enough to see us through against the biggest sides.

Another factor in our favour is the tight Premier League race. With three teams still in it - and all in the Champions League, along with Arsenal - the FA Cup is only the third priority for those sides. So they will be focussing less on the FA Cup than they have in previous seasons.

But I said all of this before Brighton. Our only aim for now should be to beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Hughes suggested today that he will play our strongest possible side, which is good news. After a very busy November and December (fourteen matches in total), we've only got five games to play in January - so there's less need for squad rotation. Similarly, our most played player so far this year - Stephen Ireland, with 27 starts so far - is suspended for the Portsmouth game, meaning he won't play again until Wigan at home in a fortnight's time.

So I'm predicting a comfortable win. SWP, Robinho, Ireland (maybe not, see below) and Elano - fresh from six days rest, on our nice big pitch, against out of form and demoralised players, with bigger things on their mind than the cup - it should be havoc.

UPDATE Talk in the Irish press that Ireland may be missing tomorrow. Would be a shame as we're not seeing him at Portsmouth either. Presumably either Hamann or Gelson will play along Kompany, giving Elano real licence to do what he wants. Who would you play?

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