Kassam’s First Law: If we’ve played you at the Kassam in the league, you’re not a big team, so said one wag on Twitter.
I remember Swansea coming to the Kassam looking like they would be heading out of Football League, now they’re the biggest team we’ve faced since Aston Villa in the League Cup in 2002. I overheard someone say recently that they thought we could beat Swansea, but didn’t think we will. I thought that summed it up nicely.
What is going for us is that we have the best team we’ve ever had at the Kassam. That’s not saying much, but it’s a good start. Also, we handle the big Kassam occasion much better than we used to as the game against Swindon and Exeter show.
Swansea are struggling and their minds will surely be on their game against Sunderland on Wednesday, as well as their ongoing survival battle. I’m guessing they’ll play a weakened team; the stakes are too high in the league for them to be concentrating on FA Cup at the moment. It’s also an interesting decision for them not to have properly replaced Gary Monk. It feels like a ‘survival’ decision to me – they want someone to organise and not lose too many points rather than a new manager who is going to turn the place upside down (which may be what is needed). We showed at West Brom last year – who had Alan Irvine in charge at the time – how it’s possible to rattle a Premier League team that’s struggling, I’m hopeful we can do the same again.
But, are we just a bit too Premier League-light? Our passing style wouldn’t look out of place in the top flight, but obviously there’s more to it than that. Have we got the pace, strength, tactical guile and consistency to impose our style on them? More importantly, do we have the defence, particularly in the middle, to cope with their attack?
I hope so, but I’m also hoping for a result either way. Neither team needs a replay.