As the dust settles on Thursday night’s game it dawns on us that what we have on Monday is the classic cup tie. Ninety minutes, well, maybe 120, maybe a few more for some penalties to be exchanged, all to play for. Now, it’s true we already had a full game and we couldn’t beat our opponents despite having an extra player, but still. Let’s not dwell on that, eh?
There’s lots of mixed messages and PR doing the rounds from both camps ahead of the game. Garry Monk is wary of us, and Tudgay and Cohen are both a bit confident. Billy is hoping they’re a bit tired, and in the meantime the key team news from the Welsh side is that dangerman Fabio Borini is fit, and they are bizarrely appealing the red card decision.
When I think about it though, it does make sense – if the hearing hadn’t been rushed to Monday then the player would’ve been eligible ’til it had taken place. If it’s upheld, they’ve not lost anything – indeed, even if the ban is extended for a pointless appeal there’s nothing lost. Contrary to my first suspicion, the Welsh FA apparently have no love of Swansea, preferring to restrict their bias to Cardiff City (thanks John!).
On the Reds front the two players who perhaps we’d hoped would feature in some way following on from injuries were Guy Moussi and Robbie Findley. Despite claims of a fully fit squad before the game, neither player featured – but both are apparently in contention for Monday. With Moussi he needs to be fully fit otherwise there’s little point in playing him – Findley at least could be used as a late impact substitute.
We obviously know all about the threat Swansea pose to us – they had arguably the better, or at least were the equal of us with only ten men at the City Ground – and will feel confident on their home turf where they’re unbeaten for a good stretch of time. That said, I can remember when we had a lengthy unbeaten home run too – there’s no point getting hung up about that, they all come to an end sooner or later.
Second-guessing how Billy will approach this game is a dangerous game – I’m struggling to predict anything other than a cautious approach to try to stifle our hosts, which is dangerous. Anyone who went to the Liberty Stadium for the league game will bear testimony to that. Having said that, we only lost that goal by one goal and were desperately close to snagging an equaliser.
Probably the single-most interesting thing to happen between the games though was the experiences of an unfortunate Swansea fan who decided to enter into a bit of trolling over on LTLF only to end up being made to look rather foolish by some of the members on there. If you’re reading, Liam – I hope you’ve learned your lesson, fella!
But I digress. Swansea are going to have Borini, they’re going to have Sinclair and Dyer – and to compound matters they’ll also have Dobbie who was sacrificed in the home game. Forest certainly need to up their game to provide a suitable challenge. My heart says we could do that, my head struggles to see much beyond a win for the home side though, I’m afraid.
I would say may the best team win, but obviously I’d rather it were us who get the trip to Wembley at the end of the month! That’s not being derogatory to the mighty Reds of course, but I do think that Brendan Rodgers has assembled a better team than we are currently able to field for whatever reason.
Better team or not, we’ve beaten teams that are better than us before – and indeed, we’ve overcome longer odds than entering into a game level on score with a full 90 minutes to play. Who knows what moments of individual brilliance, costly mistakes or a referee’s decision might occur and swing the game dramatically in a particular direction.
Whatever the outcome of the game we should all be proud of the lads who’ve worked hard to deliver a second successive play-off campaign. Whoever is celebrating come Monday evening I hope ends up doing so at Wembley later in the month – even if that means Liam the crazy Swansea fan is partying like mad. In the meantime, our job is to get 100% behind the boys in Red.
With our backing it can only give them a boost – and it would be foolish for anybody to say we’re not capable of getting a result at the Liberty Stadium. There’s too many variables to make it anything approximating impossible – or even improbable. Let’s see what happens but play our part to the best of our ability and drive the players to do the same.
COME ON YOU REDS!
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