With part one – a less than convincing victory over exceedingly poor opposition – out of the way we now have to consider part two – an away day in the land of the coalmines, the male voice choir and men who´s idea of leisure is taking sheep out on a date – or is that simply confined to the meadow next to our new training ground?
Tromso were so bad in the first half that we barely had to break into a sweat to hit the target and get two well taken goals from the man poacher himself. That it could, should, have been 5 or 6 by half time does not really matter. They improved in the second or did we simply go to sleep and allow them more freedom? All that mattered was that we won. Another 3 or 4 wins in the group and we will progress, and we survived – or did we. That we lost three players to injury is – quite evidently – the most important point to come out of last night.
Danny Rose is to be fully assessed this morning after limping off with an ankle or maybe even an achilles problem while Mousa Dembele ‘should be fine’ (the words of the THFC website) after he was tackled from behind in the second half. And apparently Younes Kaboul came off with five minutes remaining after feeling muscle tightness, something that I was not even aware of from watching on the TV. Hopefully all came off as precautions and there is no lasting damage.
On the plus side, Lamela had a quiet debut showing glimpses of skill without ever “Lighting up the Lane” which is precisely how the Daily Mail has described it. Eriksen had a fine cameo capped by a splendid strike, Sandro and Paulinho looked excellent when paired together while Holtby was here, there and everywhere trying to impress, getting an assist and an assist-on-an-assist. The defence had nothing much to do, with Naughton in particular spending most of his time ambling around in the inside right channel linking up with the attackers.
And so onto the weekend and the game at the Daffodils. Assuming our six “injured” players (the three that came off last night plus Chadli, Lennon and Capoue) are not going to be risked the most obvious question is who is going to play at left back? With the work permit for Chiriches finally having come through, could we throw him in alongside Dawson and use Vertonghen or will we revert to last season´s idea of using Naughton in an unaccustomed role, or will Fryers be given the role? I cannot see AVB altering the central pairing of Dawson and Vertonghen so would go with Naughton´s greater experience, but Fryers must then play against AVillain on Tuesday – whether Rose is fit or not.
No problem with Sandro and Paulinho in central midfield – they would be my preferred partnership anyway – Eriksen as the pivot of the attack and Soldado up front. I accept there may be a case for Defoe but would continue with the Spaniard in the Premiership for now.
Who to play on the wings? With Lamella having made his debut and beginning to gel he must be worthy of inclusion, while Siggy and Townsend (apart from a propensity to shoot rather than pass) have done nothing wrong while Holtby must also be in with a shout at occupying one of those positions. I suppose it could all depend on how AVB thinks the Daffs will set up and whether he wants players to stay out wide (Lamella and Townsend) or wants them to play more central (Holtby and Siggy).
Either way it is not going to be easy to come away with three points – Citeh didn´t a couple of weeks ago!
As always after a Europa League encounter we revert to a Sunday afternoon kick-off – this time 5pm Spanish time, match being shown at both la Mariposa and Moores Bar. And in case you were wondering – the AVillain game will also be shown on Tuesday evening.
As most of you will know it was Lewis Holtby´s birthday this week and he had to run the gauntlet of players offering their congratulations – with them punching him on the back.
What seems to have been missed is that immediately afterwards he was rewarded with the greatest gift of all – The Beast Hug.