His treachery runs deeper than you know. By foul craft, Pulis has crossed Orcs with goblin men. He’s breeding an army in the caverns of the Britannica. An army that can move in sunlight and cover great distance at speed. Pulis is coming for the 3 points.
This is a fixture that I can’t say I look forward to. There are very few sides that are capable of being frightening in stature and boring in football, but Stoke City achieves this week in week out. Couple that with their lethality off of free kicks, and you can’t help but feel uneasy about the whole thing.
Tony Pulis and orcs are ready. Rory Delap is sowing an extra towel in his underwear just in case his shirt rips. Kenwyn Jones is sharpening his elbows. Robert Huth is adding extra spikes to his cleats. Santi Cazorla is gnashing his teeth like a rabid Chihuahua. This should be interesting.
Jokes aside, we’ll have to be on our toes the entire 90 minutes. Stoke aren’t the most technically gifted team in the world, which explains their need for giant players and continuous long balls in order to have any chance at scoring. If we have any hope of defending against Stoke’s ritualistic hoofs up field, we’ll need to do to things well: midfield pressure and defensive coordination.
Our only large, imposing midfielder comes in the shape of Abou Diaby. While I’m weary of him playing at all for obvious reasons, he’s our only hope of dominating the middle of the park. Further up, we’ll be depending heavily on Cazorla to work his magic, feeding through balls to Giroud and spraying it out to the wings. I’d prefer if we played a modified 4-3-3, with Cazorla playing in the hole behind Podolski and Giroud, but this is the lineup we’re most likely to see.
It’s a toss-up between Walcott and Podolski, but for me I think the German will get the start. Walcott is a great super sub who will terrorize tired legs in the second half. That coupled with the strength Podolski offers nudges him ahead in the pecking order for this game. Szczesny is still in doubt as there’s been no word of a fitness test as of yet, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what happens with that.
The partnership and understanding between Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will definitely be tested, as will Carl Jenkinson. I think Kieran Gibbs will fare well, but Carl may have a tough time adjusting to the constant long balls, as he doesn’t quite have as much pace as Gibbs to deal with foot races.
Back to Per and Tommy V though. They have to be disciplined. Vermaelen is a marauder, we all know that, but Mertesacker has to keep him at the back, otherwise we’ll be cut open on the counter. Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios and Kenwyn Jones are all tough players to keep up with and mark, because of how powerful they re. Mertesacker and Vermaelen have the strength and intelligence about them, they just need to make sure that the back four gets their respective duties clear.
That seems enough for now. Hopefully everybody comes out unscathed, we’ll need them to trounce Liverpool!
See you tomorrow after the match.
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