Thursday, 15 December 2011

LOOKING AHEAD TO LOFTUS ROAD AND THE CHRISTMAS FEAST OF FOOTBALL

Sir Alex has talked about using the depth of his squad over the busy Christmas schedule. No doubt that he has always used it to the club's advantage as statistics will show that we've usually done well over this period compared to our neighbours. In fact, since 2007, no club has taken more points in the six game December schedule than us.

Much as I respect the manager's take on this, if there is anything that we've learnt about this current Manchester United squad over the last few weeks is that we don't have a lot of depth in terms of quality. There will be a temptation of sending out a squad like the one we sent out against Crystal Palace---with all of 9 internationals but unable to get the result we shall need. Suffice it is to say that that is my major concern over this period. 

In the past, we've had the February effect of the Champions League forcing us to save over players' fitness over this period. This season however, is different because we're not involved in the Champions League and I'm sure there are quite enough Europa league games to go around the squad players such that everyone is happy. The Premier League is effectively the biggest trophy that we can win now---yes even bigger than the Europa League so I'd rather that we keep our best weapons for it.

Part of the temptation will herald from the nature of the opposition that we're up against during this period. Granted, it looks like, at least on paper, that we have the easiest run of fixtures in the festive period compared to our title rivals. However, as we did make our Champions League group, complacency could make these easy looking games nightmares. 

QPR have one of those old pitches that is a tad too narrow and the fans are right on top of you. The atmosphere can be a living hell for the opposition largely because it is likely to also influence the man in charge.
It means that you only do well there if you manage to silence their fans and cool their players by giving them nothing to work with. Chelsea for instance approached this fixture casually back in October and ended the game a goal and 2 men down. They left empty handed. Before their defeat at Stamford Bridge, City's hardest EPL fixture turned out to be at Loftus Road. The point being that Sunday may not be one of those games where we can afford to let the opposition build steam or take the lead hopping to mount a late comeback. 

We take on Fulham on Wednesday and needless to say we should know what they're all about. This is likely to be the first game where the manager will tinker abit but it has to be said that Fulham are a well established force in the EPL now. They are very much in that B team category in the league. They now have players that have European experience given their two campaigns in the Europa league so that makes them unafraid of taking on teams like us, especially given our recent run of form.

Wigan and Blackburn remain North-West derbies and are the only games where even on a bad day, we might just be lucky enough to walk away with the loot. However, stranger things than them beating us have happened in this sport.

With City hosting Arsenal and Chelsea away at Spurs, we really cannot afford to let this chance of putting pressure on City go to waste. Fans have been talking about a blip that City will face at some stage this season but that can only be engineered by us constantly putting pressure on them in the weeks we play before them. Sunday is one such day and this time, the pressure could be bigger than ever before as a win would take us top of the league by a point. It is very likely that if we cut them loose, we might never get as close for the rest of the season.
That underlines the importance of playing our best team in this period and showing the hunger to keep our trophy.




SO COME ON UNITED! 

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