A big game this one, and one, which I think, may be indicative of our whole season. Villa had an almost identical record to us going into the match, and with a more or less full squad to choose from we really needed to win it. I certainly don’t think there’s much danger of us getting sucked into the relegation zone, but if we want to show how good we are these are the games we need to win. Maybe if the threat of relegation was greater we might have found that extra notch in performance to win the game, but it just wasn’t there. We continued with the same formation as we played against United (spot my mistake in the previous post!), a 4-4-2 with Davies and Diop playing the "wide" roles. It really does highlight the often bizarre selection policy of Coleman/Keen as, however well Diop has done (and it’s not that well!) since climbing out of the Coleman doghouse, he is by no stretch of the imagination a left midfielder. Having sold Boa the left wing role is very much up for grabs, but surely the prime contenders in the current squad are Radzinski, Routledge or Dempsey. Clearly "the management" are concerned about having a "lightweight" player on the wing if we only have a four-man midfield.
I can see their dilemma, but hope they have realised that Diop is not the answer. Personally I’d like to see Routledge given a run, but Radz could stake a claim too having performed well above expectations this season. With Montella out for at least one more game though, Radz could well continue up front. Our options are beginning to look pretty bleak here with no one really setting the world alight. I think Brian and Monty should be first choice, and Radz is probably our best bet to cover Monty’s absence. Much as I admire H’s workrate, I only really see him as back up to Brian, and CJ really has blown his last chance.
The defence has taken a bit of a hammering this season, so it was good to see Boca and Pearce doing a reasonable job. I think Boca’s a decent defender who definitely adds depth to our squad, Pearcey’s done OK at times this year, but I doubt he’ll make another season. Fingers crossed the long hoped for "quality centre back" arrives in the summer. I hope Christanval will be back for the Wigan game, he is essential to our defensive line. I also think Zat deserves another go, it’s been another up and down season for him, but he did start so well. Before the stupid broken jaw injury he was playing well, and I reckon he may have been named Captain instead of Brown if he hadn’t been out for 6 weeks. Since then he’s not really had a decent run of games, and that shows in some poor concentration levels. I really hope we do keep him, I think he is good enough to play regularly in the Premiership and we cannot afford to lose too many players. The Rosenior/Voltz conundrum I’ll leave for another post as I’ve gone on enough already.
My team for Wigan would be;
Niemi – Rosenior, Knight, Christanval, Queudrue – Davies, Smertin, Brown, Routledge – McBride Radzinski.
Wigan will be looking for the points (and the chance of a double), but there’s no point going up there to try and contain them, let’s have a go and try and take all three points.