The season starts here? Not quite, but at the half way point and with that run of games out of the way it’s a good time to draw a line under the games that have gone and start on the earnest quest for the points that Latics desperately need. On paper there’s no better place to start that than against the team rooted to the bottom of the table with only one win all season. Reality, of course, is never so clear cut.
The cavalry may just be around the corner, but it will be a couple of weeks before Latics new signings can pull on the shirt and in the meantime Paul Jewell has to make do with what he can cobble together from the walking wounded of his first team squad. The manager has a few choices at the back, but ahead of that it’s more a question of how the players will line up.
In the back line, De Zeeuw looks set to return and will probably slot in with some combination of Hall, Boyce and Baines. The interesting point is whether Jewell will persist with Boyce at centre-half, where he has looked a little more solid than his ex-Palace team mate, Hall. Other options are available in the shape of Wright and Jackson but expect both players to be on the bench.
Hopefully this game will see the end of Jewell’s experiments with 3 and 5 men midfields and see a return to the good old 4-4-2. In which case there’s only one decision to make. Kilbane, Skoko and Landzaat should take the first three places with Teale, Johansson and Cotterill in competition for the right wing position. Teale hardly covered himself with glory at Old Trafford, but the deciding factor may be Jewell’s choices up front.
Heskey is a certainty and Latics fans will be hoping for a similar performance to the one against Chelsea. Partnering him will be one of Johansson, Cotterill or Todorov. Cotterill’s performances so far suggest that he deserves a chance in the position Jewell signed him to play, but it may still be too soon for Jewell to take that risk. Todorov may not have set the world alight over the last three games, but he’s done alright and it would be the easy choice for him to continue.
As for the Swede? It may have looked like he was about to get the
chance that a lot of people were waiting for, but if the formation changes he will probably be the player to miss out.
Then again Jewell may continue to frustrate his critics and stick with a 4-5-1. Hopefully the Sheffield United game will have convinced him that it is not a good idea against struggling sides. If he does persist then expect Johansson to keep his place and Teale and Cotterill to sit this one out.
Watford have injury problems of their own but their side will contain players capable of causing the unstable Latics defence problems. Damien Francis will want to impress against his old employers and Tommy Smith is one that has been troublesome in the past. Their manager Aidey Boothroyd, places the root of Watford’s problems at the lack of a genuine goal scorer, hopefully what they have won’t find Latics in the generous mood that they’ve been in of late.
The Not a Patch on… team selection:
Kirkland; Hall, Boyce, De Zeeuw, Baines; Kilbane; Skoko; Landzaat, Cotterill; Heskey; Todorov
Watford 1-2 Latics
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