Another game of two halves
Having written this post as a response to the Stats thread, I realised that, as Akela was likely to put it up as a report, I thought I would save him the trouble.
Another game of two halves. If we can do it in one half, why can't we do it for a full 90 minutes? And why do we always have to give away a goal or two? We were dreadful in the first half and were lucky to go in at the break only a goal behind. If only Ward's shot had dipped a little more. Naturally, Hennessey kept us in the game again.
In the second half we dominated play and should have won the game through one or other of Doyle's chances. Even so, he got closer to a goal than SEB did. Fletcher put away a typical goal, getting on to the end of a glorious cross from Jarvis. If only Matt could do it more consistently.
The back four looked vulnerable at times and even when we were dominating the match, I was always worried that Bolton might capitalise on a defensive mistake. The CDs probably did enough to maintain their places, though we shall see what happens in the window ... and there's the Icelander of course. Nice to see Foley back and I would prefer to see him in at RB in the absence of Zubes.
It's a pity he couldn't play Jonsson today as it would have side-lined Elokobi. I was worried about George but Bolton surprisingly did not attack down our left flank very often. Thus, MM's decision to pull him off at half-time must reflect his realisation that he is not up to PL standard. I hope so, though I don't wish to be mean to George.
Certainly, Edwards improved our momentum in the second half. Hunt is also playing well in a deeper lying role than is customary, though he was still able to make forward runs. I am looking forward to seeing Frimpong in the middle: he's just the kind of player we need there: strong in the tackle, able to pass and to run with the ball. He resembles how we hoped Guedioura might turn out to be ... but, it is to be hoped, without the same puppyish rushes of blood to the head. When JOH comes back, we might be able to do without Henry.
For me, this was a far more tense affair than the Arsenal match, apart from the final 21 minutes at the Emirates of course. We needed to win today and, if not, to avoid losing. We managed to achieve the latter result, though we should have won.
The fact that we cannot put away our chances might hurt us in the end. Why, for instance, did we make so little use of our wingers in the first half? Had we done so, we might have forced Bolton back, while, at the same time, providing more opportunities for Fletcher and SEB in the box. And why can't we head or kick the ball into the net from two yards (Fletcher aside, that is).
Both teams were very tense and this affected the quality of the play. Bolton managed to control their nerves better than us from the kick-off and dominated the first half. When we finally started playing after the break, they began to look vulnerable at the back and we should taken advantage of it.
Passes are still going astray, players are still getting caught in possession and Hennessey still hoofs the ball miles upfield, seemingly aiming for the opposing CDs or goalie. A more varied approach is required, including one that relays the ball quickly from the back out to our wingers. As Kightly is playing well at Watford, we might have further options there soon.
Thankfully, we lie outside the bottom three as we go into the new year, while Bolton prop up the table. That might make Onuoha decide to join us rather than the more local team and, boy, do we need someone like him at the back, preferably by Monday!