We need a win, not for qualification, but simply to get a win under our belt and to lift the fog that is beginning to pervade so much of the good that has been done and achieved so far. Some might say winning this doesn’t mean much; but winning is a great habit to have and a few of the players on show here, will have something to prove.
You will know as well as I how well we’ve played to be in the happy position of this game effectively being a waste of time; but our front line troops are all in need of both physical and mental rest.
Domestically we’ve had a rough time recently and Poch’s team selections have alarmed and confused as much as it’s inspired, tactically we now seem very one-dimensional, as Vert alluded to; we’ve been found out. We’re in desperate need of a plan B and some plan B players that can make a difference. They have a chance to show up and impress Poch as I fully expect a liberal smattering of newer faces who may not normally start.
N’koudou and Sterling have genuine pace; play well here and they may well be part of a genuine, pacey Plan ‘b’ at some point in the season.
We are of course the Group H winners, but with probably as many 7-8 players rested for this game, it is a real guess how we will line up and even more of the same for how we will play.
But let’s be clear APOEL shouldn’t be in the competition; if they played in England they’d be lucky to be in Division 2, of course that doesn’t mean that they are well organised and a pain in the posterior to break down. They haven’t won any of their last 13 ties in this competition, and have only scored in 4 of them. As we saw in the first leg, they do know how to play on the break and managed to give a good couple of scares before we took control.
But they do have something to play for and being at Wembley will once again be a huge incentive for a visiting side, but win this and they’ll likely finish third – a huge result for them, but they’ll have to throw away the form book (even if we are playing poorly) to win this as they have never won away from home.
We finally wore them down at their place and won, some would say flatteringly 3-0, and with a scratch team likely to be picked by Poch, the margin of winning this time is unlikely to be greater.
It seems Delli will play, and speaking at the press conference had this to say about his form to Football.London ‘
‘We`re disappointed with the results in recent games. All clubs have a dip in form. We`ll bounce back and show our character. It`s very easy. [to keep focus] No easy game in the Champions League. We want to be in this competition and taking on the best in Europe. We want to win every game ‘.
he went on
‘It`s not unusual for a team to have a dip in form. We have a great team, great manager and staff and we`ll bounce back.
There`s always positives and negatives. I`d always like to be at my best in every match and training session. I`ve learned a lot from this season. I`m my own biggest critic. I know if it`s not going well for me. I work hard every session. It`s important that we keep pushing to always be better’
We won’t be seeing Marcus Edwards as he’s still not ready – which makes you wonder if we ever will now if not in a game like this – Nkoudou is going to start and there will be many hoping that he can put in a real performance and create a pressure wave that will see him as a real alternative for the Premier League, Sterling and Amos look like starting too, beyond that I suspect it will be a blend that will have all worked hard on the training pitch to make our shape and application look right.
This is a massive game for N’koudou, that is if we have any hope of him playing any part this season and Poch proving that he isn’t another doomed to be sent back to France or loaned out in January.
We could start like this, but to be honest, your guess may well be better than mine:
Gazzaniga, Aurier, Foyth, Vert, Walker Peters, Winks, Amos, Sissoko, N’Koudou, Sterling, Llorente