With Bournemouth’s game not kicking off until later, we know that a victory will take us out of the bottom three.
Even if it’s only temporary, that would breed confidence in players and supporters about our survival prospects.
On Boxing Day we were four points behind 17th and trailing in the game at Everton, so things have certainly picked up.
I’d argue we played better at Villa and in both cup games without recording a win and the consistency in the performances is encouraging.
But with the Liverpool Man City combo on the horizon, we really do need a maximum here.
Is David Moyes on the edge? He’s banked a lot of equity in recent seasons so they probably need to think long and hard about a potential replacement if they are considering pulling the trigger.
From the outside it doesn’t appear that there’s been any significant change to personnel since the days they were pushing for Europe, so it’s strange they’ve suffered so badly of late.
Perhaps in trying to evolve the team with new additions, they’ve simply upset the balance? Or are key individuals just not performing?
Big money was spent on Paqueta and Scamacca but neither have really lifted the team, even if the latter has netted a few important goals.
He scored in their victory over us at the London Stadium, which spelt the end for Bruno Lage. Even though they ended up getting the win with a degree of comfort, I didn’t think they were brilliant.
The big positive in recent weeks is that more players have come into contention meaning the squad seems significantly beefier, but now Lopetegui has to work out the best combination for an important match.
The above represents what I’d consider the boldest XI he could deploy based on recent form with the intent to attack from the start. It’s probably too bold.
Hwang and Jimenez set each other up for missed opportunities the other night, but it was a reminder that they link up well together. Cunha has looked useful in all his cameos and I wonder if he could start from the right.
Podence has been our most consistent attacking outlet and Ait-Nouri has similarly impressed enough to warrant a place somewhere in the side.
Toti is erratic but I wonder if the team benefits overall from his more physically imposing stature? Collins and Kilman are tidy but neither are killers. It might be worth persisting with a different combination.
Well done to Woodend wolf, Wokingham Welsh Wolf, Ryan, Sutton Coldfield wolf, Sea Pigeon, DebenhamWolf, Portuguese men of Wolves, CHEESEBURGER OF DEATH, Marin Wolf, Sandwich Wolf, Prawny, Rich, DeptfordWolf, Ben Rasmin, DancesWithWolves, BigNachos, wishfart, Scruffysid and Chesterwolf who all correctly predicted the 1-1 draw against Villa.
Rich extends his lead at the top of the overall table to 4 points at the end of Gameweek 18.
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You can read my prediction for the game in the comment section below.
Up The Wolves!