Monday, October 4, 2010

West Bromwich Albion v Bolton Wanderers

The second half of this match was some of the best football you are ever going to see.  Just a thrilling, end-to-end affair, the technical ability, the tackling, managers matching wits, it was all there.  A great advertisement for the game, as well as for the new positive attacking mentality that has been present at many clubs who would have previously been expected to pack it in and play for a draw.  In all honesty, it was far greater spectacle than the Chelsea v Arsenal snoozefest down in London.

A draw was probably a fair result, although both clubs had several opportunities to secure all three points.  Martin Petrov may have got a deflected goal against Manchester United, but he appears to have left his scoring boots in a brothel somewhere outside Sophia.  One player I really want to mention for West Brom is Peter Odemwingie (pictured, below).  He has been a absolute revelation since he arrived, and it was a real coup for Roberto Di Matteo to sign him.

In my season preview, I wrote of West Brom;

They count on midfielders Chris Brunt and Graham Dorrans to provide the goals, as principal striker Roman Bednar just can't get it done at this level. Brunt is only 25, a Northern Irish international who has always shown a knack for scoring goals, and Di Matteo will rely heavily on him.

This statement was correct when I wrote it, before a racist banner in Moscow convinced Odemwingie to depart for greener pastures.  He gives them a threat up top that creates more space for the creative midfielders (James Morrison was also outstanding Saturday) and allows them to play a rather expansive game, although they are still conceding too many goals, and I believe they will still find themselves in the relegation fight come spring.  But when they are given space, as Arsenal learned, they are one of the more dangerous clubs in the league going forward.

As for Bolton, they should have won this match, and they will have to turn some of these draws into wins if they are going to climb up the table, which their play dictates they should do.  As has been pointed out in many other spaces, Johann Elmander has been a revelation this season, and long may it continue.  Along with Stuart Holden, he has given Bolton a real stability in attack, bringing a degree of class to the middle of the park.  These two players have really blossomed under Owen Coyle,, and are a big reason why Bolton are 5th in the league in scoring.  

All in all, I believe both of these clubs are happy with their position, and growing with confidence from recent results, heading into the international break.

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