On certain occasions, the manager is faced with difficult decisions that may prove unpopular.
Such is the case for the upcoming game against Watford at Vicarage Road.
We should aim to emulate the form shown in our last outing against West Brom, in which we played some fabulous football, with Lanzini leading the line in tremendous style.
Most managers are very reticent to demote their captain to the bench, as I have suggested in the 4-4-2 line-up presented here below. Mark Noble has played very well at times, but in terms of sheer strength, I have picked Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate as our holding midfielders. They are also both very willing in moving up through the middle of the field and providing additional strength in attack.
Once again, I have chosen to provide some angulated cover in midfield, with Snodgrass slightly wider and deeper to Lanzini, with Kouyate playing a deeper and central role to the re-vitalized Obiang. Lanzini is so much more potent starting from a central attacking position, while Kouyate is a pillar of strength as a central defensive midfielder.
I have chosen Adrian ahead of Randolph, since technically speaking, he is a better custodian, and was somewhat unlucky to lose his place some months back. He should be given a chance to redeem himself and demonstrate that we don’t really need to spend a small fortune on a third goalkeeper for next season; Randolph, Adrian and Spiegel are more than adequate.
Cresswell has copped a lot of undeserved criticism, and we seem to forget that like Ogbonna, he too was playing with a niggling injuries, thought he remains our first choice left-back. Sam Byram must be given sufficient plying time to justify his place as our regular-right back. By using Byram as a right-back, we have the luxury of playing the mighty Kouyate where he belongs.
While the debate continues as to whether Antonio is a true striker or not, I’d rather see him remain centrally. I have the feeling that he is due a goal and with Carroll unlikely to start, he may be keen to get back onto the score sheet again.
The latest news is that Carroll may travel to Vicarage Road, but is still carrying a small groin niggle and is unlikely to start. I have chosen Jonathan Calleri to join up with Antonio, mainly on the basis that he plays very well when placed close to Lanzini. Andre Ayew played very well for Ghana in the recently completed AFCON Championship and if totally fit, may be preferred to Calleri.
I expect that there will be many goals in this game, and if we get out there fast and push high, then three points are there for our taking.