After that thrilling 2-2 draw in Bremen, we might need to switch things around on Saturday, both to refresh the team and to cope with injuries.
Harry has reported that Rafael van der Vaart is a doubt after being substituted on Tuesday, while Luka Modric is also struggling. Definitely out are Heurelho Gomes and of course, Michael Dawson and Jermain Defoe.
With Gomes not ready to come back, Cudicini should start again. I’m not convinced about the Italian, but he hasn’t made a mistake since the Wigan game, so I’d expect him to be preferred to Pletikosa.
In central defence King may need to be rested, which would probably mean Kaboul (who was very good against Bremen) starting again, alongside William Gallas. Bassong seems to be out in the cold a little after a shaky start, but all he can do is wait for his chance to display the sort of form he showed last season.
The full back positions are trickier to call. BAE will play if Bale is selected in midfield, but if Modric and Van der Vaart are fit, then the Welshman might be preferred in defence. It seems more likely though that at least one of our playmakers will be injured, so I reckon we’ll start with Assou-Ekotto at left back and Bale in midfield.
Corluka’s position at right back is also tied to the fortunes of Aaron Lennon. These two aren’t combining as well as they have done in the past, which I think is partly to do with the fact that Lennon is not properly fit and also because most of our attacks are now coming down the left, due to the threat of Bale.
I’d keep Lennon in the side, though the time will have to come soon when either Dos Santos or Bentley are given a chance, if his form doesn’t improve. I’d give Corluka a rest though. He doesn’t offer much going forward and if our home game against Wolves last season is anything to go by, we will have plenty of possession and need some attacking thrust. I’d love to see Naughton given a go, but I think it’s a shout between Corluka and Hutton, so I’ll go with the latter.
Central midfield is another tricky one, especially if Van der Vaart is injured. Do we retain the 4-5-1 formation that we’ve used in the past two games? I say yes, mainly because I don’t see any two of Crouch, Pavlyuchenko and Keane forming an effective partnership.
Do we bring Palacios back or stick with Jenas? The latter was impressive against Bremen, but it’s horses for courses and I’d bring back Wilson to compete with the Wolves midfield. Alongside him I’d have Huddlestone, with Van der Vaart in an advanced position if fit.
Which just leaves the lone striker. Pav or Crouch? I’d keep Crouch after his performance against Bremen and carry on getting the ball wide and delivering it into the box.
So here’s my side to face Wolves. Who would you pick?
———–Van der Vaart – If injured, replace with Modric, Kranjcar or Dos Santos