You have to feel sorry for Cesc Fabregas. Falsely accused of spitting at Hull’s assistant manager, Brian Horton, after the two clubs met in the FA Cup almost exactly a year ago – an incident that initially ‘happened’ on the touchline before being hastily moved to the tunnel when Phil Brown realised how easily the Sky cameras would expose his lies – he has been forced out every time the two have clashed since.
Having been criticised for everything from his demeanour to his attire in that fixture, he was injured for the 3-0 victory at the Emirates back in December, a match memorable for the entertaining chants being aimed at the Hull management pair, as described by ‘holic at the time.
With the Tigers in such a perilous position at the foot of the table, this may be the last chance to play them for a while, but it looks almost certain that Cesc will again miss the fixture with his hamstring injury. We should have enough to dispatch them regardless, but the captain would have been chomping at the bit to play.
Nasri will continue to deputise, and he has been nothing short of a revelation in the last couple of games. In fact, my bet of the day selection was simple this week – Sportingbet are offering 8/1 on the Frenchman opening the scoring tomorrow night, and given how involved he is in our attacks at present, that seems very generous. Alternatively, 13/5 on him scoring at anytime are also decent odds. I’m on a bit of a streak with these tips, let’s hope that continues.
Song will be missing from the midfield with the completion of his two match suspension, so Denilson gets another chance to impress, while Silvestre is likely to come in for Campbell, who is probably unable to play again so soon after the Champions League game. The only other doubts are Rosicky and Sagna, but we have ready made replacements in Walcott and Eboue, and rotation was likely anyway.
Hull might be without Stephen Hunt, which will be a great relief to Almunia, and have problems of their own after Barmby and Bullard clashed the day after the 5-1 mauling by Everton. But they will be fighting for their lives and have shown in bursts that they can be dangerous, drawing with Chelsea and beating City in recent weeks.
The match is on ESPN, and quite handily, Sky have given me a month’s free subscription to the channel. On the down side, I’ve seen some of their coverage, and it would be fair to say I won’t be paying much attention to their ‘analysis’. In fact, it is a distinct possibility that I’ll be reaching for the mute button.
What we must not do is underestimate Hull. Chelsea and United have home fixtures against West Ham and Fulham respectively, and will surely claim three points each. If we can keep up with them, we could take advantage next weekend when both face tougher challenges. United face Liverpool, while Chelsea travel to Blackburn just days after their rematch with Mourinho.
If the table looks the same on Monday, I’ll be happy. Nine games to go, and hopefully this is the last one Cesc will miss. Do it for him.
Enjoy the game.