During match time I’ll be at a funeral (masked up and distanced so please everyone spare me any commentary on that) so Allen has graciously agreed to put lineups in this thread for me and give his thoughts on Emery’s choices. While we are here I will use this space to mention the fact that Sofian Chakla seems to be transferring to Getafe, as their transfer policy now seems to be to just scoop up whatever we don’t need. By my estimation Chakla was our fifth choice CB by some distance and wasn’t really fit for purpose at a La Liga level so no harm done there. If he goes over there and plays really well and proves us all wrong that’s fine, it’s a loan and we can get some money out of him later.
This match with Real Sociedad is a big one. Both teams are missing really important players and both teams really need a win. On the other hand, both coaches can be pretty practical in their approach to results and may be satisfied with a draw if Eibar hold Sevilla (that match is 0-0 as I type, and you’ll know whether that is relevant by the time you read this).
In some ways, we need a win for morale as much as we need it for the table. It’s a bit dreary seeing draw after draw and draw after draw, and I’m as ardent a defender of Emery and his methods as anyone but even I can see that. We are still alive in two cups, and it might be that he has more magic in store for us there, but in the meantime winning in the league for the first time since January 8th would be pretty good! I’ll send it over to Allen now for the lineups:
Villarreal: Asenjo; Albiol, Pau, Parejo, Trigueros, Capoue, Coquelin, Pedraza, Ruben Peña, Moi, Paco Alcacer.
Bench: Rulli; Funes Mori, Bacca, Raba, Jaume Costa, Estupiñan, Alex Baena, Fer Niño.
Real Sociedad: Ramiro; Zaldua, Illaramendi, Aritz, Portu, Merino, Oyarzabal, Guevara, Isak, Monreal, Le Normand.
Bench: Ayesa; Aihen, Sagnan, Gorosabel, Guridi, Zubimendi, Carlos Fdez, Januzaj, Merquelanz, Barrenetxea, Bautista, López.
Our long in jury list is very evident when you look at Emery’s lineup, and who he didn’t have available. It’s a very defensive lineup from us, with both Capoue and Coquelin in midfield, but as you can see from our bench, we just don’t have a lot of attacking midfielders to go with. (I suppose we could have gone with Jaume Costa or Estupiñan and moved Pedraza forward, but that’s about it). No Samu, no Gerard, no Yeremy, and just not a lot of speed available to us. The plan has to be to keep it tight, hope Paco can get some sort of service from Parejo, Moi and Trigueros, and nick it. I’m not sure I’m terribly confident, but that’s pretty much all we can do at this point.
Real Sociedad are of course reeling from the departure of WIllian José, though they did pick up Carlos Fernandez from Sevilla—he’s on the bench. Oyarzabal, Portu and Isak are still a dangerous trio, though.
With Sevilla’s win earlier today (and Levante’s defeat of Real Madrid, so they’ll be coming into our Copa match full of confidence), this really is a match where a win for the Yellows is crucial. Let’s hope we get it.