Ever feel like we’re playing the same game of football over and over?

After the Boxing Day Bore Fest against West Brom, we were in need of cleansing. What a relief to think we need only wait until New Years Day for our next fix.

But a quick glance at the fixture list quickly put paid to that. A nice open game against Alan Pardew’s side? No sirree, welcome to another game of turgid fare fit for Sunday league standard.

No, we get to transition from Pulis negativity to Allardyce negativity. What a selection!

Both these games are ones which we should win. Away, we would still be expected to triumph. At home, there is simply no plausible alternative. And yet they are both fixtures which represent banana skins of genetically modified proportions.

Both managers are proponents of ‘ten men behind the ball’ as a tactic. The idea of enterprising football simply doesn’t register. That’s not to criticise – they’re entitled to come and play how they like – it’s just bloody boring.

Moreover, both sides are more than capable of posing a threat if we’re not at it. For West Brom, that was in the shape of aerial power. Every time Brunt or Phillips whipped in a cross, there was a collective intake of breath.

I’m not quite sure how they earned their corners, mind. My recollection of the game was that they rarely ventured outside of their 18 yard box, let alone their half. Still, had Yacob had a bit more composure that game could have ended very differently.

Learning from Boxing Day

Palace pose a different problem – their deep lying block will be augmented by a seriously pacy attack.

If we don’t take our chances when they come, we’re going to leave ourselves very open in the latter stages of the game when Bellerin ends up playing as an auxiliary right winger. I don’t really want to see Zaha and co running at Gabriel [Edit – Mustafi could be back].

No, we simply can’t afford to go into the last quarter of an hour needing a goal like we did last week. We’ve seen that film too many times before, and it doesn’t usually end well.

Here’s hoping we get off to the fast start that will render such a concern irrelevant.

Otherwise we could be in for another very long game against a very defensive side.

Don’t forget this is the best league in the world though!