Bonsy continues CaughtOffside’s coverage of the Premiership’s UEFA cup representatives as the first chance to suffer the infamous European Hangover rolls around.
The importance of the Uefa Cup was not lost on the four Premiership mangers on Thursday night, as fielding their strongest teams available, they pursued a place in the forthcoming group stage. The three teams returning to the UK will be satisfied with the advantage they take into the second legs. Disappointingly, West Ham will begin their European travels in two weeks time seeking victory in Sicily or face elimination.
Certainly interest in the competition was reciprocated by the fans that packed into Upton Park and traveled in their thousands to the popular destinations of Tallinn and Prague. Blackburn Rovers would have been encouraged by the lively away support backing their team in Austria.
This Sunday the Big Four Love In is claiming all the attention but another contest between two teams appearing in Europe this week takes place down the Boleyn.
The fourth assistant at Upton Park should be kept busy administering the substitutions on Sunday as West Ham and Newcastle meet three days after their Uefa Cup adventures. As reported Alan Pardew and Glen Roeder will start with their strongest teams but expect frantic activity on the touchline as Thursday nights matches take their toll and all three substitutes from each team contribute to the game.
Blackburn Rovers will curse the 92 min goal equaliser conceded against Salzburg on Thursday night but will be confident of securing a place in the Uefa Cup group stages. Before then though, they face important games against Middlesbrough next week and Manchester City tomorrow. Rovers could find themselves bottom of the Premiership before they kick off on Sunday. Mark Hughes should view his team’s next two forthcoming fixtures as must win games if they are to signify their intentions in this seasonâ€šs Premiership.
Equally, Tottenham will be hoping that their win against Slavia Prague will get them back on track and a win at Fulham will certainly lift the gloom surrounding White Hart Lane as of late. Martin Jol will be reviewing the resources available in his squad over the next few months, as expected, Spurs fans can look forward to penciling in a few more European fixtures this season.
So the four Premiership sides return to European action in twelve days time, completing the second legs which will go some way to shaping their season both domestically and abroad. There will be no better preparation for the return matches than collecting vital Premiership points in the meantime.