It’s the return of Scarfy v Sparky but I have good news and bad news…
First, the bad news. The warm weather training in Portugal during the early part of the week may not have been as successful as intended. Steve Sidwell will be out for around 4 weeks after suffering knee ligament damage, and Bobby Zamora turned on his ankle (not his broken one) and is a doubt for tomorrow. Diomansy Kamara and Philippe Senderos are both potentially out with back problems too. Then to top it off, there are reports of the plane back from the Iberian peninsula having to make an emergency landing which is probably a little nerve-wrecking if you’re on it at the time.
Mr Mancini also has a few injury concerns (perhaps this should go in the good news section) but as many multi-million pound strikers to choose from as he likes. Well, as long as they’re called Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli or Edin Dzeko. Plus Edin Dzeko’s found his light-blue-and-white scoring boots. Not in the Barclays Premier League yet, but he scored twice in 5 minutes during Thursday’s Europa League (*sighs*) match so it’s only a matter of time. Their injury list currently includes Shay Given, who would more than likely have been on the bench what with Joe Hart being a bit good, James Milner, Nigel de Jong, Boyata and Michah Richards (thanks to commenter Billy below for pointing out the inadequacy of my earlier research).
And they utterly spanked us at Craven Cottage in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Want the good news now?
We ROCK at Eastlands. In the last three league meetings, we’ve nabbed 7 points. In the Carling Cup last season it took until 9 minutes from the end of extra time (yeah, that again) for them to beat us.
We’ve possibly got Dickson Etuhu and Damien Duff back from injury to join Captain Dan and top-scorer Dempsey which should make for a nice strong midfield. We’ve no injury concerns in defence (Senderos aside, but honestly, do we expect to see him anytime soon?) and Dembele and Johnson should both be fit. Now that we’re back to the bread-and-butter of league football we can ignore any cup-tied nonsense and throw Gael Kakuta and/or Eidur Gudjohnsen on to shake things up a bit. And boy, can that Kakuta shake things up a bit. Remember Aston Villa? I think we may need him this weekend.
We (well, the players) have had a nice few days in sunny Portugal and not much else. Our opponents had to stay in Manchester and play Aris Salonika so possibly aren’t the freshest they’ve ever been. Mancini opted to play a full-strength team too so we’ll either see some changes to their line-up or some tired legs. A bit of both would be quite nice.
In conclusion, it could go either way. How do you like that for analysis? To be honest, it very much depends on which Fulham turns up on the coach tomorrow. Will it be the Fulham who played so valiantly against Chelsea two weeks ago or defied Stoke’s physicality to beat them 0-2 at the Britannia? Or will it be the pretenders that showed up for the first half against Bolton last week, and that rolled over and let Man City stomp all over us on our turf back in November?
Predictions then? Lawro’s going for 2-0, Phillips Idowu for 2-1 and FourFourTwo for a bore draw. It won’t be boring. Our games against Man City rarely are. The last 0-0 draw was 7 years ago. I’m unsure as to whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing…
Sod it. I’m going for 2-2. What say you?
PS I forgot my lucky earrings last Sunday so apologies. Still, Wemberlee’s overrated, right?
PPS I’ve edited this post since the comments below. Will try harder next time, profuse apologies.