03 May 2013

Redknapp's talkin' some trash ahead of Saturday's match

Tomorrow's run-in with QPR just a got a little saucier thanks to a helping of trash-talk on offer from manager Harry Redknapp. One would think that a team just relegated would be ready to just roll over as its players eye Mediterranean beaches and frou-frou cocktails. Instead, Redknapp was full of tough talk as he addressed our impending raid on Loftus Road. Turns out he was addressing rumors concerning keeper Júlio César, saying:
[César] wants to go to Arsenal? Arsène Wenger will be here tomorrow. If he's interested, I'm sure he'll speak to me. [César's] a top, top goalkeeper. There's no doubt about that. He's a Brazil international so to play in the Championship next year would be difficult...It would take a good offer [to move to another team]. You've got to get what you feel is value for him. He's going to cost decent money if anyone wants to buy hims. He's a good goalkeeper.
Okay. Hardly full of piss and vinegar. Redknapp seems rather resigned to César's  departure, and it makes sense. The man is 33 and hardly wants to waste a year trying to win the Championship when teams (including us) are sniffing around and can offer Champions League play instead. Of the teams at the top, we're the only ones with anything resembling an unsettled keeper situation. I've suggested in the past that we pursue a seasoned keeper, one willing to play a mentor's role while accepting less playing time. I don't know César well enough to claim that he would like that roleis the prospect of sitting for a team contending for the Prem title and playing in the Champions League enticing enough, or would he prefer actual playing time for a mid-table team instead?

It would be a tough decision for him to make should an offer be made, but as QPR's season fades, we're bound to hear more stories concerning Cesar's availability, as well as that of Rémy and Samba, among others. As we turn our attention towards the actual game, will we see more spirited-performances from the likes of César and Rémy, not so much to try to win as to audition for a role with us next year? We saw touches of that when we went to Upton Park in October amid stories linking us to Mohamed Diamé, who opened the scoring with a stunner of a goal before we set things right with a 3-1 winner.

I'm not seeing it, frankly. While we should be wary of getting bogged down in a lethargic affair, and we should likewise be prepared for a more-free-wheeling, pressure-free game full of wild abandon from a team no longer worried about anything. They're finally and fully relegated, so they might just be content to knock around, or they might be happy to get nutty. We'll see. We are, after all, facing a team that has won just four Prem league games, although they have managed to draw at home against Chelsea, Everton, Spurs, and Man City, keeping four points against top-table teams. For comparisons, we've kept five points against the same (beating Spurs and drawing with Everton and Man U). This is a team that can park the bus just fine when it needs to, and with César in the back, this could turn into a sticky one.

Then again, this is a team that has just won twice in 17 home matches, keeping just 14 of 51 available points while being outscored 25-12. They're averaging less than a goal a game. However, it's a touch undignified for us to dabble too much in statistics. This is, after all, a club that saw fit to let Joey Barton play for it. One regret of mine is that Gervinho won't have a chance to slap him around as he did last year against Newcastle. Absent that, we'll just have to come in and throw our weight around general. We have a lot of players due for a goal, and it's been a while since we've laid gave anyone a proper thrashing. Let's have tomorrow turn into a goal-fest (for us, of course). I'm calling for goals from Cazorla, Podolski, and Ramsey, not because I'm overconfident, but because we should approach this game as a pack of starved wolves.

Final score: AFC 4-1 QPR.