Maribor away. Must win. You would hardly have expected this game to be so important before our Europa League campaign kicked off. Something has been lost in translation. Last season this competition was practically dismissed and treated with little respect. This season, all the right words have been spouted in the lead up to it and the games played but the performances have been lacking the will and desire (aside from perhaps the Lazio match). Can't blame selection, the sides have always been strong if not quite full strength. Have these European fixtures simply fallen victim to our early season learning curve? We'll find out this evening thanks to the fact that even though it's a group match, it should really play out as a knock out cup game.
Our hosts are up for it. They want everyone to know who they are. Whether they have the quality to upset us is something that will be answered in a few short hours. Their ultras will bring intensity to the atmosphere, we'll have to match it on the field. It's that simple. Turn up, turn on, turn them over.
Villas-Boas seems to be aware of the games importance. We've got no Dembele, Bale or Adebayor. Livermore, Huddlestone and Sigurdsson to (possibly) all feature with Falque, Townsend and Dempsey as other potential selections. Dawson in at the back paired up with Vertonghen and possibly the return of Naughton? Not my problem who plays, just want to see commitment and professionalism.
And I want to be entertained. And win by two clear goals. Bully the opposition. Out class them.
Not a lot then. Just one or two niceties.
Squad: Lloris, Cudicini, Naughton, Walker, Caulker, Gallas, Dawson, Vertonghen, Smith, Livermore, Parrett, Huddlestone, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Townsend, Falque, Dempsey, Defoe.