We are going to play stoke city away on next Saturday. I would say it is our most difficult fixture, if you take away Chelsea and two Manchester away games. To make it tougher it is after an international break. Let us analyze the situation, talk a bit tactics, then can discuss about an unexpected, unfortunate transfer.
We know what is waiting us in Stoke, they have not changed much in their style of play, why should they, given the success they had with it, given the budget they are in. I agree they are not playing the sexiest football in the planet but it is mighty effective, Long balls from goalkeeper, a tight- suffocating midfield, attacking through wings with pace, good crosses, big physical players, good set pieces, long Delap troughs into the box, they will give a run for their money for any side.
We tried a formation when we played them home in the last season with three center backs with Kyriakos playing as a sweeper, now we have Coates, who knows what a sweeper is all about. (He played the role of a sweeper many times when he played for Uruguayan side National). I feel Kenny would love to play him as a sweeper in this match along with Carragher and Agger in at center back. This is important because stoke is playing a direct, physical, typical English long ball game with wingers in advance positions, we can’t let them make a pandemonium in our box.
I hope Kenny will play both of our workhorses, Kuyt and Suarez. That helps to tighten up the midfield. If Adam is injured, I feelHendersoncan do a job there with Lucas in his own holding role. Therefore, the formation should be like 5-4-1 with Downing and Kuyt in wings.
Now we can have a look at Raul Meireles transfer, we signed him from Porto last year, and gave him a contract of 60000 Stg per week, and there were an unofficial offer for a better contract if he performs well. He performed well, he became one of the standout performers in last years campaign, but in between everything changed. New owners came in, and then came new players, and we can no longer guarantee him first team football, Management might have decided against to give a better offer for a part player (which is what he is in this season). It was unfortunate for poor Meireles. We cannot blame him for his wish for a better contract. Nobody can be blamed, not the player or the management. It just happened, I have respect for him for what has done for us, and the way he spoke of us after he left. Thank you for being a glimpse of light, when we were in darkness last season. Wish you all the best there.