Today marks the umpteenth time this season where we’ve followed a good result with a match that we really need to win. Up to now, the subsequent result has been a disappointment, but with a new captain and new focus, there can really be no excuses this afternoon.
Confidence is still not going to be at maximum level, so any kind of three points is welcome really, and the performance is nowhere near as important as the scoreline. What we need to avoid is an early goal against us, the sort of which could really sap the fragile drive from this team.
Team news sees Toure return alongside Djourou, Gallas having picked up a knock, and Djourou has a real chance to kick off from a decent couple of performances and establish himself as the tall pacey defender we need (and the sort some have us wanting Micah Richards for). Eboue is back on the bench so our right back options look good again, while Nasri will be important as the only true wide member of our midfield, Song, Cesc and Denilson being the other three.
Up front, Van Persie will look to continue his goalscoring form from last weekend, and he is such a confidence striker that he may well do so. His goals generally come in clutches, so he’s my bet of the day, to be first goalscorer, widely available at 7/2. But a word of caution – I’m 0/4 so far this season.
Either way, three points are necessary, and to get them, the players need to approach this match as if it is as important as the Chelsea game. Because, quite honestly, it is.
Enjoy the game.