Blues will fight to stay in the title hunt: Andy
Linfield skipper Andy Waterworth hopes that playing catch up will work in the Blues favour this season. Having been in the driving seat for the Danske Bank Premiership crown in recent terms, the wheels fell off the title-chasing bandwagon with the Gibson Cup dream going west and ending up in north rather than south Belfast.
It is appropriate then that a festive trip to the east to take on Big Two rivals, Glentoran, is the perfect opportunity to keep the Blues' recent upturn in fortunes on a smooth path.
Four matches unbeaten after a November all at Windsor Park would rather forget means they are climbing back up the table but with most eyes on the clash between Crusaders and Cliftonville, Waterworth feels being out of the title spotlight could work in the favour of David Healy's men.
"The past two years I've been at Linfield we've led the league up until the end of February and come runners-up," he explained.
"I'm not saying it's nice to be following the leaders but maybe it's a different way to look at it.
"We're not going to say we're going to win the league but we're certainly not going to say we're going to lose it, we'll just take each game at a time because we've been through a tough time and not come out with many plaudits or credit.
"We just want to get back to winning games and once you start winning games it's a nice place to be because when you're losing it's a rut and things go against you.
"It was a big win last week, especially going a goal down."
Waterworth was on target as the Blues came from behind to see off Ballymena United, but he knows it will be a much tougher proposition against his former side today.
"It was an experienced and tough Ballymena side and we scored three goals against them away from home which is a fantastic achievement," he added.
"But it is only another game, we have to use that as a foundation going into Boxing Day and into the new year to get up the table again. The Glens are going well but no matter how well we're going or they're going, it's whoever wants to win it more and whoever gets that bit of luck will win.
"It's a big occasion, the supporters are out in numbers and there are bragging rights at stake and both sets of players don't want to let their club and supporters down.
"Form can go out the window so it's up to us to play with that passion but to remain focused and play with our heads. The main thing is the three points and the icing on the cake would be the bragging rights."
While the Blues' form has been patchy as the players come to terms working under David Healy rather than Warren Feeney, the one constant has been the goal threat of Waterworth.
To date he has bagged 19 goals this season, no mean feat for a team apparently in the midst of a crisis, but Waterworth would gladly swap hitting the 20 mark for three points at The Oval.
"I've been playing a different role recently where before I was playing last man now I've been involved in the play more and maybe not as close to goal," he explained.
"I've never doubted my ability or my desire to be successful but sometimes you go through periods where you're not playing as well as you should be.
"My goal return is good - I think I'm leading goalscorer in the league - but my performances could be better. When I score goals I'm happy, even when I'm playing badly and score I'm happy.
"I love scoring goals but realise that sometimes I have to sacrifice goals for other players to get the three points. I'd very much sacrifice scoring to get a win. Goals aren't the ultimate but when you score and win it is the icing on the cake."