I don’t know about you but there’s nothing better than matchday for taking your mind off the week’s trials and tribulations.
And then you find out we’re wearing that mint green monstrosity. Still, it can’t get worse, can it? Sorry, Mustafi’s fit, you say…
I jest. About the Mustafi bit, anyway. To be honest, any fit central defender is our best option. I suspect, on that subject, Mavropanos is still a couple of weeks from first-team football and will be on the bench to begin with if standard operating procedure is followed.
The pair and the other four whose return to training was trumpeted this week, are like new signings. Cynicism surfacing so young in the post; barely one hundred words in…
It’s a big match, a warm-up for more testing times in coming weeks. That isn’t lost on Unai Emery. West Ham will get our respect, he declared, after stating:
I know that Saturday will be a difficult match because we need to impose our ideas but also for 90 minutes, we need to control their players and their tactical ideas.
Back-to-back wins over Fulham and Blackpool might not sound much after the drubbing at Liverpool, but psychologically, they quickly repaired some of the damage wrought by three defeats – and that third one in particular – in five games.
Three points today draws us into the top four reckoning, into fourth if we hammer the Hammers by seven goals or more…
The most important returning players are Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal. Emery spoke about wing-backs being central to his philosophy.
[Wing-backs] can go outside, keeping wide and going deep for the last attacking moment. But also it’s very important for every team, and for us as well, for them to defensively and tactically have quality.
I Spy With My Little Eye
Monreal may not return as a wing-back, of course. If Mustafi isn’t ready, I’d trust the Spaniard more than Lichtsteiner in the centre of defence for this fixture.
Bellerin’s return brings balance to both defence and attack, as the younger of the Spanish pair, is returning to the sort of form which brought him praise in the first place.
At the other end of the pitch, the biggest decision of all must be made. Lacazette and Aubameyang or just the latter? The waters are muddied by Mesut Ozil’s return. I am far from convinced the German will start but with Lacazette and Aubameyang? At home, maybe but in a derby where players will have to stand up and be counted? Not a chance, surely?
However, Emery is a man of surprises and this certainly would be one. Iwobi is not everyone’s cup of tea but provides a promising pairing on the right with Bellerin, Aubameyang filling the left-hand attacking role.
Assuming, of course, Guendouzi doesn’t play with a flat-back four. I don’t think that scenario happens; Emery speaking about wing-backs and then not using them is a level above the Bielsa spying technique. I wonder if the Met will be investigating the unexpected surge in stepladder sales every time we play Watford?
All of which paranoid meanderings bring us to an XI of sorts:
Leno; Mustafi (Monreal), Sokratis, Koscielny; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Monreal (Kolasinac); Iwobi, Lacazette, Aubameyang
With kick-off close, we’ll call it a day. It’s a team good enough to win, to add their name to the list of good performances at West Ham.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.