Fulham - The Central Midfield Conundrum
Apologies to woodysweats for the late publication of this but it still deserves a retrospective airing!
"As it stands right now, we have Danny Murphy and Jonathan Greening suspended from this upcoming match with Juventus.
The question that Roy must be pondering is, what do I do with the middle of the pitch? Etuhu was rested against Manchester United, so that can only mean that he will feature in the return leg.
But the real poser is, who will partner him? There are a few options: Chris Baird - He plays the defensive role, and play it well he has done this season. He has admirably stepped up when called on the back of injuries to both Etuhu and Dikgacoi.
If he were to slot in besides Etuhu, we would have a very defensive midfield in a match where we need to score at least two goals. Also, a clean sheet may be more important than an abundance of goals, and Baird is a better right back than Stephen Kelly. He should remain in the defence to provide the strongest resistance to Juventus' attack force.
Simon Davies - He could be pushed inside with Dempsey taking his place on the wing. But he's more of a classic winger than a playmaker in the center of the pitch. Not the best choice. Clint Dempsey - This may be the best option. He has played this position internationally, and he is definitely a creator on the ball.
Some may think that he's a better second forward than Gera, but he's probably also a better attacking midfielder than Gera. In a match where we need goals, it's ok to take the chance of Dempsey drifting up into a third forward role and leaving 3 midfielders behind him. It could almost morph into a 4-3-1-2 formation, which wouldn't necessarily be bad in this match.
Damien Duff - He is our best winger at the moment, and it may seem a bit foolish to move a player on form out of his favored position just because of suspensions. He is best attacking the fullbacks, and that is where he should play. He also doesn't seem as much of a provider of through balls as much as a player who can get to the byline and deliver some good crosses in.
Zoltan Gera - While I do believe he played in this position at WBA, he really has proven that he relishes the role of second forward, working off of the knocked down balls that Zamora can provide in front of him. It could be argued that he should sit in front of Etuhu, with Dempsey on one wing and Duff on the other, with Zamora and Nevland in front of him, but I don't think that Nevland has the legs for 90 minutes or more after coming back from injury recently.
While he could play in the attacking midfield role, I think Dempsey can provide more balls for Zamora and Gera than Gera could provide for Dempsey and Zamora. Bjorn Helga Riise - He's not ready for that kind of pressure, considering he's not playing regularly.
Personally, I would bring either Riise or Nevland off the bench around the 60 minute mark to relieve Davies on the left, either a direct swap, Davies for Riise, or Nevland for Davies, pushing Gera back into the midfield. Those are my options and opinions. What do you think? Fire your thoughts off."
Did woodysweats gauge it right?