Date: 18th December 2009 at 11:29am
Written by:

It’s funny how the build up to each game has a certain angle or emphasis.

Prior to the OT game it was the fact we hadn’t beaten them there in the league since 1983, and the general feeling amongst us fans that the time is now, given their injury problems and the simultaneous ‘clicking’ of our new look midfield permanent.

Prior to the Sunderland it was all about the importance of keeping feet firmly on the ground after such a great win.

Now the build up to tomorrow’s game against Stoke has been about the physical strain of having to play 3 games in 7 days, plus how we respond to the the gritty style that has brought relative success to Tony Pulis’ side.

AND, perhaps most importantly, securing the points unlike we did in the same fixture last season.

My point is, each build up seems to contain an important aspect or ingredient of a successful season. A team that has the mental strength to respond to each challenge, will surely find itself in a good position come the end of the season.

I feel that last season, particularly since we lost Laursen, we lacked leadership and determination, and the sheer pressure and expectations got to the players heads, and as a result we struggled to be consistent. The players who experienced our slump in form last season have surely learned a lesson or two about dealing with high expectations.

To summarise, I believe the addition of an experienced leader in Richard Dunne, and the fact that the younger players have learned from last season’s disappointment, means we are now in a much stronger position to make a real challenge to the top 4.

Other teams have strengthened, too. Spurs in particular look impressive, where as Cit£h have failed to live up to expectations.

What’s your view, are we in a better position to challenge the top 4 this season?

Forum thread and poll: Top 4, more realistic this season than last?