Leeds up next – how should we line up?
First things first – we shouldn’t expect to stroll this game. Having said that, since the United game, Leeds have been on a poor run of form, drawing at home against Wycombe, and losing to Exeter (A) and Carlisle (H). Could this be to do with Beckford submitting and then retracting a transfer request?
We have three options going into this game as far as I see:
1. Use the game to play players back into form, i.e. pick the same team where possible.
2. Give the squad players/youngsters some game time.
We could pick the same team and hope that some of our key players can play themselves back into form (I’m looking at Modric, Defoe and Palacios in particular). I’d imagine that most fans would be relatively happy with this, as it’s a televised game against the giant killers of the previous round, and that selection would be a sign that we are taking the cup seriously. However, playing Wednesday/Saturday/Tuesday is not ideal, and I’d personally prefer us to give some players a break so that we can go into the Fulham match as close to full-strength as possible.
We could rest some key players, and play the likes of Bentley, Hutton, Pavlyuchenko and O’Hara – players who, for various reasons, haven’t been involved recently; they all have a point to prove, and they would also be in the shop window for potential buyers.
Redknapp has intimated (here) that he will give a couple of younger players a go – I would presume that he means Rose and Naughton, since they have made the bench (and pitch) in the last few weeks. For me, this is the perfect opportunity to give some youngsters a chance (at least on the bench). We have four or five players who badly underperformed last night, and players who have not played too much football and could probably therefore do with a rest (King, Modric, Jenas).
Finally, it could be an opportunity to experiment with the formation/team shape. Last season we played a Liverpool-esque 4-2-3-1 in a fair few games, and I said in my previous blog today that I feel this is the only way that we can get Modric and Kranjcar into the same team. We could line-up with the following:
Corluka Dawson Bassong Bale
Giovani Modric Kranjcar
Personally, I think Redknapp will stick with 4-4-2, and go with:
Naughton Dawson Bassong Bale
Giovani Jenas Huddlestone Rose