The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 16 April 2013 15:45

I don’t need to remind anyone that we face Chelsea at the Cottage on Wednesday and I think it’s a good time to be playing our friends from Stamford Bridge. They’re in the midst of a lot of games right now and it looks like it might just be starting to catch up with them.

We’ve got to get at them and go for the jugular. Too many times we sit back and play the underdog against Chelsea but they’ve been up and down this season. They’ve never looked like winning the league and, at this stage of the campaign, you wouldn’t know if they’re going to finish third, fourth or indeed outside the UEFA Champions League places. They’ll be desperate for the points but after beating Queens Park Rangers, it would be nice to turn over our other local rivals and stop them finishing in the top four.

Damien Duff will be absent for the next couple of games but you have to look at it as an opportunity for other players. And whoever does come in should be fresh – something that Chelsea certainly aren’t at the moment.

I’d have taken a point beforehand from the game at Aston Villa at the weekend. I’ve seen a lot of Villa this term and they went into the match in decent form. So a draw was a good result as it wasn’t a good time to be playing them.

It’s disappointing that we didn’t actually get a shot on target during the game. We came close a couple of times through Dimitar Berbatov but it’s something we need to work on. We have a lot of possession but we don’t get behind teams enough to create as many chances as we should do. That’s something I’m sure the Manager is aware of and is working on.

The week before, we’d gone down to a last-gasp defeat up at Newcastle United. To go so close to getting a draw and then lose it in the last few seconds is a gutter. It’s a long way to go to St James’ Park and to get to that stage of the game and not see it out will have been a choker.

After Wednesday’s game with Chelsea, we’ve got another London derby this weekend when we host Arsenal at the Cottage. I was at Arsenal’s match with Norwich City on Saturday and the Gunners weren’t very good. Norwich were cantering to a draw but Arsenal nicked it in the end. They’re a team you have to relinquish a lot of possession against but they don’t hurt you much. They’ll have a lot of the ball without creating many chances.

We may be coming towards the end of the season but if the players think they can get the deckchairs out against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, then they shouldn’t bother turning up. We’re safe now, there’s no doubt about that, but these are big games. The fans relish these more than any other fixture as well.

We head to Everton after the Arsenal game. If you can get a point at Goodison Park then you’ve done extremely well and of our next three games, I’d say the Everton one is the hardest for us. But they’re desperate to get into Europe and when teams are in that situation, they do desperate things. So this could be our chance to earn a first-ever win at Goodison.