Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Options for Thursday

Our biggest match in years and we're in an injury crisis. Wayne Bridge and Vincent Kompany limped out of the Arsenal game, which Stephen Ireland didn't even make. Combined with the ineligibles - Valeri Bozhinov and Nigel de Jong, and the long term absentees Michael Johnson and Martin Petrov we're not going to be at our strongest.

Ten of the team pick themselves. Shay Given will surely continue in goal, as will Micah Richards, Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuoha in defence. Although Pablo Zabaleta has twice replaced Bridge recently, the absence of de Jong, Kompany and Ireland from the midfield will surely require his presence there. And so it will be a recall for Javi Garrido, unless Hughes takes a huge gamble and gives a debut to 19 year old Ryan McGivern.

Skipping over the midfield briefly, the front three should all be fit. Robinho, Bellamy and Wright-Phillips have produced some of our best football of the season in European games - København at home and away, and Aalborg at home.

But in midfield we've got problems. Zabaleta is sure to start, as is Elano. But who else? Without Kompany, Ireland and de Jong we are short of options. I imagine the most obvious one is to give Gelson Fernandes his first start since Forest in the FA Cup:

If that prospect is just too worrying, then how about this: one last hurrah for Dietmar Hamann. He's back in training, he played Reserves last night and could just be the calming influence we need in the midfield.

If no nous Gelson and no pace Didi are just too worrying then there is one more option: Wright-Phillips in midfield. We did it for much of the autumn, allowing us to accomodate Darius Vassell on the right wing. I'd rather Vassell didn't play on Thursday, but how about Daniel Sturridge? Last time we played in Germany we had Sturridge on the left and he did quite well.

One final option would be Martin Petrov in place of Danny Sturridge, but I'm not sure he's match fit. I think that the Fernandes option is the least bad one, but none of them are great.


Gary Nolan said...

To refer back to your article on if Hughes should be sacked, this is the type of situation where as a manager he has to make the right decision. He has to put a team out that can do a strictly professional job, if we can come away with a draw that would be great and I think that is what we should aim for at he very least.

jfell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dannyjohnson1 said...

I much prefer the map of the world to a plain old cardboard box.

Johnny Crossan said...

Garrido in left midfield, McGivern at left back. This avoids using the dreaded Gelson (although he should really play)

JPB said...

I'm away from the dreaded cardboard box for the next week or so but it will be back next week. Until then 'The Times' Atlas of World History' will have to do.

Alphonso said...

There's no point in having Gelson and Garrido in the squad if they don't even get played in desperate situations like this. They are the young, fit players who would be playing in their natural positions so just do it. Garry needs to spend 95 minutes remembering that he's first, second and all the time a FULL BACK not a winger and full backs defend! Fernie can run his socks off in midfield and close down everything when they have possession and then give way to Didi for the last 20/30 minutes. We need a bit of luck and alot of commitment. A 2/1 loss would do, anything worse will not

Alph Izzet

JPB said...

Yeah I'd take a 2-1 loss. Even 2-0 wouldn't be the end of the world.

pjdemers said...

Any update on the fitness of Stevie Ireland? I'm a fan of Garrido but after his Aalborg performance I have my doubts.

as far as holding midfield I'd take Hamann over Fernandes just for the cooler head (though Alphonso's suggestion of Fernandes giving way to Hamann is quite a decent proposal). Hamann's legs are long gone but he uses the ball well and protects the back four. His presence would allow Elano to get forward as much as possible whereas the enthusiasm of Fernandes might get the better of him.

Again does Berti Glauber finally come into the frame as he was a regular defender for FC Nuremburg? His Bundesliga experience might be a useful factor to consider.

I'd also be curious to see if we actually use a 4-4-2 formation as its a Bundesliga opponent. if so a Bellamy - Sturridge or Bellamy - Caceido partnership might prove useful and would allow City to actually press defensively further up the field.