Awh... It's our last preview of the season. It's only fitting that such an up and down season... a mediocore and indeed crappy one as some would have you believe, should end with a such a dull looking game on paper.
West Ham, already relegated, players fighting amongst themselves at do's, and managerless... then there's us, and you've no idea which Sunderland will turn up. Could be the one which pulled itself up from the depths against Wigan Athletic, or indeed the one which threw in the towel so readily against Fulham... We'll just have to see.
The Hammers, as said have nothing to play for. If you believe in miracles, then get wishing, as defeats for Stoke, Villa, Bolton and a draw between WBA & Newcastle could see us 9th... if we win of course.
SAFC Team News
It seems there might be some interesting team selections this weekend, with players "set to return" according to the local press. Most notably, Anton Ferdinand and Asamoah Gyan. How fit they are, we don't really know but its good that people are on the road to recovery, and might push the abundance of youth off the bench for a little while.
In nets, of course it's going to be Simon Mignolet once again, backed up by Trevor Carson. In front of Simon, we would expect newly crowned "Player Of The Season" Phil Bardsley, along with Ahmed Elmohamady to take up the full-back positions, whilst there's a dilemma as to who will partner Nedum Onuoha. John Mensah played against Wolves, and later went off in a right huff having played very poorly. If indeed Anton Ferdinand is fit enough to return, then I think he'll come in at John's expense. Steve Bruce also spoke highly of Louis Laing recently following his debut against Wolves, but the bench is a more likely destination than the first XI for the 18 year old.
Into midfield, there's a very strong possibility that it will be five, and the same five that featured last weekend. Jordan Henderson out wide on one wing with Steed Malbranque on the other, a midfield comprised of Cristian Riveros, Jack Colback and a farewell appearance for the departing Bolo Zenden.
Asamoah Gyan seems to be back. Do we play him? Well knowing Bruce he probably will take a chance on an injured player. Gyan was recently called up to the Ghanaian national squad for games in early June against Congo & South Korea, so he must be on the road to recovery, however I'd much rather he warmed the bench, and left Stephane Sessegnon to run alone up front.
Curve-balls in the starting XI are that Nedum could shift to right back, with Ferdinand and Mensah in the middle, pushing Ahmed Elmohamady further forward at the expense of Cristian Riveros. Whilst if Gyan did return, you'd think we'd revert to 4-4-2, also meaning no place for Riveros. Sadly, the Paraguayan is the odd man out.
Bruce's Probable Team:
Mignolet; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Elmohamady; Malbranque, Zenden, Colback, Henderson, Sessegnon; Gyan
Mignolet; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Elmohamady; Malbranque, Zenden, Colback, Riveros, Henderson; Sessegnon
From the West Ham United side...
With West Ham already relegated, and caretaker manager Kevin Keen in place, it's anyone's guess what sort of team will line-up, but either way I don't expect The Hammers to take the game lightly and will want to get some result as they say good bye to the Premier League for at least a year.
We're expecting Keen to name a strong line-up, and nobody scares me more than Carlton Cole. That's right, I'm the only person possibly who has ever said that, but hear me out here... He's absolute turd, which means he's bound to score a hat-trick against us or something. Fingers crossed we cna keep him quiet, but we do like to allow poor players to look good, and have been gifting goals at the minute. Certainly one we need to keep an eye on. If he's not on hand, Demba Ba could be.
Scott Parker returned for them against Wigan Athletic, and clearly looked injured. I can't see him making a start for the Hammers, however if he does, then I'm not going to be too worried if thats how he's performing.
Anyway, how are we going to get the win which could very well see us 9th in the table come full-time (wishful thinking)... The wings will be key. West Ham have conceded a massive amount of goals from down the wings in open play, and if Jordan Henderson and Ahmed Elmohamady can control the right hand side, we should have a good chance. Provided Sess and/or BabyJet can stick them away, but this certainly seems to be the key area for our attacks.
When all is said and done this really is a bit of a nothing game. I fully expect our season to go out with a wimper as opposed to a bang, and a 0-0 snoozefest might well be seen as a good result, leaving us unbeaten in London all season. 0-0 is my prediction, I'm usually wrong. Make of it what you will.
Either way, enjoy the game everyone, and remember to check back on Roker Report for all the match reaction.