Thursday, 26 April 2007

4,000 Goals In Blackburn Lancashire ...

Well, it would rather change the goal difference equation. The centre of Blackburn on a Saturday night is one of the world's more depressing places. But Birmingham city centre is hardly lovely either - and I have nothing but fond memories of that place, based on the jig back to the railway station from St Andrews after the play-off final. Hopefully after this weekend we all feel the same way about Blackburn.

As for the team on Saturday, I'm worried that in recent games - against Reading (due largely to injuries) and Sheff Utd (due to the starting line-up and substitutions) - we have lost all balance and have as a result been unable to have any control over midfield and to apply any sustained pressure on the opposition. We all know we have to win on Saturday but that doesn't mean being gung-ho from the start.

I think there are decisions to be made by Pardew, based on what he sees as the key strengths of the team. For example, a decision to start with Thomas (who had a shocker against Sheff Utd) and Rommadahl (who was blocked out after the first half an hour by tactical changes) and to attack down the flanks to me implies that you opt for ball-winners in central midfield, to give the wide men the supply they need. This could mean starting with Holland and Faye. A little tough on Song, but it's all about combinations (and with this set-up ZZ would have more space to exploit behind Bent). It's not being defensive, just playing to your strengths.

If on the other hand Thomas or Rommadahl is dropped (please not both, Hughes and Ambrose as wide men should not be an option), Ambrose would switch back out wide, pointing to Holland or Faye alongside Song in the centre. I don't think the experiment of Ambrose playing as a de facto second striker worked.

We also need to be able to change the structure of the team if Pl;an A isn't working - or if it has worked and we need to close out the game. This means having Bent(M), if fit, or Hasselbaink, possibly both, available - maybe even Lisbie. It also means having someone capable of changing the game from midfield, either going forward or defending.

My team:

Carson, Young, Thatcher/Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Diawara, Thomas, Holland, Faye, Rommadahl, Zheng Zhi, Bent(D). Subs: Randolph, Hreidarsson/Bougherra, Song, and two of Bent(M)/Hasselbaink/Lisbie.

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