The term “must win game” is quite often used in football, even when the game isn’t necessarily the last hope offered. However, the very thought of not picking up full points tonight, (and also at the weekend), will surely spell the end of our chances of qualifying for the Champions League in 4th place. So, I am sorry for the old football cliche, but this really is a must win game!
Eibar have been playing above expectations this season, and find themselves in the heady heights of 8th, and will surely hope they can grab a Europa League place. Surprising really, as for some, Eibar shouldn’t even be in this league, as they finished last season in the relegation places, but were redeemed by means of Elche’s (who finished in 13th) financial problems.
They should probably be looking down instead of up the league though, as their recent form is poor to say the least, and they find themselves 19th in the form table (won 1 drawn 0 lost 5), with their only victory coming at home to struggling Levante. Incidentally, their last victory on the road came in Sevilla at the start of the year, with a 4-0 demolition of Betis. They frustrated us with a 0-0 draw last season in the RSP, but it would be unthinkable, if not impossible, should the scoreline remain scoreless this time around.
The Barca loss was not totally unexpected, and we can draw encouragement from the performance of the team as a whole. What we need to do is take the positives from that game and turn into a winning performance tonight.
Emery will probably rotate slightly again, to account for fatigue as much as anything, and perhaps we will see Fazio return for this one to give him some confidence against a weaker opposition.
Suggested line up:
Mariano Caricco Fazio Escudero
Vitolo Banega Konoplyanka
With MKD, and especially Gameiro ready to come on and grab us a goal in the second half if required.
Elsewhere, Villareal have a tough game away to Celta Vigo, who are also well and truly in the race for 4th, especially now Nolito has returned to full fitness. That game kicks off at the same time as ours, so it will be interesting to see how the evening pans out.
Best case scenario is we close the gap back to 8 points, with Villareal visiting next Sunday for another potential “must win” game. If the gap is any larger than 8 points by the time we play them though, then even a home win would probably not be enough for us.
Anyway, we must take it one game at a time, and give our full concentration to beating Eibar!