This is a game I wasn’t really looking forward to. The obligational “complete the group stage fixture list” game against Fiorentina. We’ve nothing to play for? The format of the Champions League competition means that games like this will be thrown up every so often, mainly in the later stages of the group section. Thankfully we’ve not been involved in too many and when we have we’ve already secured qualification.
It was even more galling as on Monday I attended something with work which was held in a corporate box at Stamford Bridge. It was a tad on the dull side so I spent most of the afternoon staring out onto the pitch watching the Chelsea groundsman taking down the normal pitch perimeter hoardings and replacing them with ones sporting the Champions League logo and sponsors. No doubt they were doing the same at Anfield but for the last time, until next season at least! And then to make matters worse the next evening Michael Owen got a hat trick for the Mancs!
Nonetheless there is some interest in this game not least because we should, if the reports are true, see the first start of Alberto Aquilani. Whether or not he will play the full ninety minutes remains to be seen I suspect Rafa will hook him after 60 or 80 minutes however that will be considerably longer than he’s played so far and further sign that he will be able to play normally very soon. Reports in the papers suggested that Aquilani’s father thinks he has been fully fit for some time and his son is annoyed about being kept in cotton wool.
“Alberto’s available to play and has been for more than a month. He feels good and the injury has cleared up, and now the only way he can get truly fit is to play more and more minutes. He is desperate to get his career in England up and running. He has been very frustrated, first at being injured, then at not being chosen to play for so long…… I don’t know the reasons why Benítez has chosen not to play him since he came back for injury.”
I don’t know what Aquilani senior is trying to achieve via this but it doesn’t really help matters. Perhaps it’s linked to his post as a paramedic at Roma, his former club. However he did suggest that off the field Aquilani has settled in well which will surely help him when he finally gets to play?
It’s ironic that Aquilani’s first start will be against Italian opposition and one wonders what side Rafa will field. With nothing at stake for us perhaps Rafa will opt for reserves and youth however, with Arsenal looming on Sunday he’ll also want to give Aquilani and Torres, even if he starts on the bench, a run out before this game?
“Some players will need to play and others we have to manage. We will analyse tomorrow morning after the training session and decide the team…We will play with some players who haven’t played too many games in the last few weeks.”
Read into that what you will! Prediction. It is difficult to call as both side’s attitude might be affected by the circumstances but clearly we will want to sign off with a win and I take us to do that. 3-1.