What an incredible weekend of results. A Rooney-less Manchester United lacked any spark, Liverpool’s champions league hopes withered without Fernando and Portsmouth showed amazing spirit to seal a cup final place. Without the resources Pompey were made to work hard, leaving it until late for winning goals whereas Spurs fans, ironically, were just leaving. To top the celebrations of course we too made the final for the second year on the bounce and have just edged a step closer to the d word that mustn’t be named. We’ve now been given the perfect opportunity to pick up three points at home, this time it’s vital we create some distance in the title race.
We’ve had a fair share of bad luck in recent years, so much so that you’d be forgiven there was some kind of gypsy curse on the club. Amongst others, there has been the Liverpool ‘ghost’ goal, Gudjohnson’s last minute miss in the same game and Joe Cole’s similar effort in the cup semi-final. When we were missing last minute sitters teams were routinely scoring them against us under luckless Avram Grant. This has been compounded by Woodgate’s freak winner in the Carling Cup, the injustice and bizarre referring decisions of Tom Henning Ovrebo and, most painfully of all, JT’s slip when we were an inch from picking up the holy grail. The last two weeks have seen lady luck returning and our fortunes somewhat reversed. Our rivals have seen injuries to their key players at the worst possible time, whereas Essien, Ivanovic and Ashley Cole are on their way back to the first team. Drogba’s goal was offside, Villa could have had a penalty and Terry should have had an early bath. It’s the kind of good fortune you need to win things. It may be a cliché but there is an element of truth to it. Having luck on our side might just be the best transfer we’ll make this season.
After a sapping game on the Wembley surface, edging ever closer to the ITV executive’s dream of ‘Football On Ice’, Carlo might need to do one last shuffle of the pack against Bolton. With all our remaining games coming at the weekend only we can presume the line up will be pretty settled for the rest of the run in. To combat Bolton’s often physical approach (otherwise known as Kevin Davis) Ivanovic should return at right back and Ballack should take Deco’s place in midfield. Freshness might also be called for upfront with Anelka and Kalou possibly in line for recalls. The toothless first half against Villa brought back memories of an equally languid performance in the second half of the Blackburn game. Carlo will need to instil urgency and intensity from the kick-off to overcome a Bolton side in need of some points. For all Fergie’s pathetic mind games of it being ‘easy’ Tuesday’s match really could be decisive in the title race. Four points clear at this stage would be demoralising to our rivals and the win would make sure that confidence and belief is sky high ahead of the tricky away games at Spurs and Liverpool. Let’s make some noise at the Bridge and make sure that all this new found luck counts for something.