Welcome back. It may only have been a fortnight but I have missed our little Saturday promenade, papers tucked snugly under the arm.
It’s fortunate then, that on this occasion, we appear to be able to choose a leisurely route – take in some of the team news tidbits served up by the morning rags and settle ourselves in for the action. For once, there’s little to furrow the brow; we’re expecting good behavior from Messrs Mancini and Ferguson.
That’s not to say that the City and United lineups aren’t of interest. Typically, today’s press is at loggerheads on the teamsheets from both clubs.
The news that Ashley Young is fit and back to compete for a starting role appears to have lit a fuse that has seen the media scramble to crowbar the former Villa man into their lineups. We’re seeing Young in no less than five of our six predicted starting XI’s this morning – with a variety of names making way.
Shinji Kagawa makes way in both The Sun and The Guardian, while the Japanese playmaker shifts to a central role to accommodate Young’s start in the Telegraph. Over at the normally reliable Independent, meanwhile, they opt for Young over Valencia – presumably worried by the Ecuadorian’s international travels.
By far the most alarming and surprising conclusion on Young’s return, however, can be found in The Mail – providing us with a clear winner of the “Do They Know Something We Don’t” award. They claim today’s trinket by suggesting that Wayne Rooney will miss out against Stoke, with Young and Valencia either side of Robin Van Persie, who is backed by Kagawa from deep. That would definitely be cat and pigeons time.
Mancini’s teamsheet appears to be easier to predict. Surprisingly, every source this morning opts to start Sergio Aguero up with Carlos Tevez, with the variation coming in midfield and at the back. It appears that a Samir Nasri/James Milner combination is the preferred option for the flank roles in the majority of the press, although The Mail and The Guardian give a start to Scott Sinclair at the Hawthorns.
Those who have invested in Aleks Kolarov, meanwhile, face a nervy wait for the teamsheet with just The Mail and The Times tipping a start for the Serbian. Pablo Zabaleta is rested in three of our papers this morning, with Micah Richards getting the nod in The Sun, The Mail and The Guardian. I’d back that particular theory – three games in seven days with flights and Ajax to round things off looks too much for the Argentine.
West Ham’s budget defenders are strongly backed to take their place against Southampton at Upton Park – only the Sun doubt that Guy Demel will start against the Saints, with James Spence given the nod at right-back. While The Mail is the only source feeling pessimistic about Winston Reid’s chances – they go for James Tomkins alongside James Collins for the Hammers.
Marouane Fellaini’s injury has caused discord amongst the press, with all kinds of configurations suggested as a solution. The option to push Johnny Heitinga into midfield, allowing Leon Osman to settle in behind Nikaca Jelavic is one we’ve backed and reinforced with last night’s Differentials. However, The Sun present another viable option, with Victor Anichebe adding his physical presence to the Toffees forward line in a straight swap. They might just be on to something.
The Telegrpah look to have the strongest solution, though. They just get Fellaini out on the pitch, regardless of his injury. They obviously feel that a giant immobile Belgian will run riot at Loftus Road. Then again, they believe that Clint Hill will start for QPR, so they might have a point.
It’s been an uneventful morning saunter, then, with plenty of reassure us that the weekend ahead will bring good things. There’s apparently every confidence that Robin Van Persie starts, few surprises in Mancini’s lineup, and Roberto Di Matteo looks set to stick to the script at the Lane. No pressure, but if we fail miserably this weekend, it looks like we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
Next Six Ticker
|No Change||Hart||MCI||B, Vs|
|Up||Robles||WIG||C, Vs, £|
|No Change||Lloris||TOT||C, Vs|
|No Change||Foster||WBA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Vorm||SWA||C, Vs|
|No Change||Mignolet||SUN||B, Vs|
|No Change||De Gea||MUN||A|
|Up||Boruc||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Kompany||MCI||B, Vs, Rest|
|No Change||Vertonghen||TOT||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Luiz||CHE||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Boyce||WIG||C, Vs, OoP|
|No Change||Cuéllar||SUN||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Rangel||SWA||C, Vs|
|Up||Clyne||SOT||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Mata||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Hazard||CHE||B, Vs, Rest, Inj|
|Up||Maloney||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|No Change||Y Touré||MCI||B, Vs|
|No Change||Silva||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Tevez||MCI||A, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Koné||WIG||B, Vs, £|
|Down||van Persie||MUN||A, Vs|
|Up||Lukaku||WBA||B, Vs, Rest|
|Down||Aguero||MCI||B, Vs, Inj|
|Up||Rodriguez||SOT||A, Vs, £|
|Up||Defoe||TOT||B, Vs, Rest|
|Up||Ba||CHE||C, Vs, Rest|
|A, B, C||Current Form|
|Inj||Injured/Returning from Injury|
|OoP||Out of Position|
“We have dynamic players with good movement, so if he can link with them fine. He can play a bit higher because his timing getting into the box is very good.”Rafa Benitez talks up the role that Frank Lampard can play in his Chelsea revolution