Date: 11th September 2009 at 5:05pm
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In the 2008 Champions League semi-finals, Lionel Messi spent most of his time running into blind alleys with the ball at his feet, such was the effectiveness of Patrice Evra in forcing him inside. The United left-back simply did not allow Messi to go past him and he did a reasonably good job in Rome as well, even though the other defenders left him with an uphill task…

And Messi is just the biggest name of those who could not really get one over our Patrice who is the best left-back in the world. However, there is one man whom he utterly, miserably fails to contain almost every single time: he is called Aaron Lennon.

I appreciate the talents and the frightening pace of the Spurs man but it’s still a mystery for me why our world-class left-back regularly comes off second best against him. Take the Carling Cup final where he was tormented; take the league game at Old Trafford when he was skinned on several occasions, leading to two goals; or the league clash at White Hart Lane in February 2008 when we came within moments of losing. He just could not cope with Lennon on these occasions.

And it’s not as Lennon’s got a bewildering array of tricks. He usually uses his electric burst of pace to get past his men on the outside, to put a cross in or to get to the byline. He’s a traditional winger, not some multi-task goalscoring terminator like Ronaldo. I would understand if a player like John O’Shea failed to cope with this: Big John is not the quickest player around… but Evra is very fast, he turns very quickly, his positioning is usually flawless – what inhibits him when he comes up against Lennon?

I fear we might never know that but with Lennon in electric form ahead of our trip to White Hart Lane tomorrow, something must be done. I don’t know if Evra is concerned by Lennon – hopefully not, a relaxed Evra is far better than an anxious one – but it might be worth to start Park instead of Nani, to offer some extra protection on our left. Do I sound like a coward? Maybe – but I don’t think that Lennon’s psychological advantage should be underestimated. It is something we have to take into account, even though Evra might just play a blinder. Hoping for that.