Bournemouth reaction: five positives from a negative

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* Disclaimer: this writer was unable to watch the Bournemouth match, and instead listened to live commentary and read every match report available after the fact. If you’re looking for a play-by-play, here’s a nice one from This Northern Soul.

1) Henriquez will play a role

Roberto Martinez’s praise for the youngster after the match was effusive. The youngster hit the crossbar with a headed effort, was full of energy, and looks to have probably leapfrogged Mauro Boselli in the pecking order.

2) Figueroa is a good attacking option

The tactical switch to a back four allowed the Honduran to get forward a lot more in the second half to good effect. First, he hit a screamer against the bar, then won the penalty. We’re all hoping the rest has done first choice wingback Jean Beausejour a world of good, but it’s good to know Figueroa can easily move up, and a Boyce-Caldwell-Ramis back three is feasible.

3) A replay down south isn’t such a bad thing

There are a number of players in need of playing time in a lower stakes situation, not least new signings Henriquez and Roger Espinoza. Callum McManaman is on the cusp of a breakthrough and will enjoy further minutes, while players returning from injury like Ryo Miyaichi and Antolin Alcaraz could play some part.

4) Partnerships are important

When he has come on for the senior team in league matches, McManaman has at times looked unsure of his positioning and on a slightly different wavelength than those around him. Despite the team’s flat first half performance, it sounds as though his understanding and interplay with Daniel Redmond was a big positive. In playing them together, Martinez gave each of them a stronger chance of succeeding.

5) Does Nouha Dicko have a role to play?

After being recalled from his loan at second tier Blackpool due to a lack of starting opportunities, he was given a chance to impress in the final quarter of an hour at the DW. With Ryo Miyaichi still injured and Arouna Kone away, there is a concerning lack of raw pace in the team. Can Dicko provide it?

Wigan 2 QPR 2: Frustration setting in

Another opportunity squandered as Latics failed to convert a string of chances to put this game beyond Harry’s energized, but sloppy troops. Wigan were still missing seven senior players against a team with a new manager in desperate circumstances, but frustration is starting to set in as the season shapes closer to another relegation battle than a than a cozy mid-table finish.

The Good:

James McCarthy’s finishing — he was unlucky not to score three — confirmed what we already knew: the lad has everything. Ronnie Stam put in another good display down the right. The team’s response after a poor first half was once again very strong and resulted in an equaliser, although it probably should have resulted in two or three more goals as well.

The Bad:

The result and the scrappy nature of the team’s play at times. The worrying lack of composure from those charged with putting the ball in the back of the net. Koné was poor, and desperately needs a goal. Boselli came on far too late — this game would have suited him as Latics had a lot of possession in the opposition’s box. When Maloney came on, he looked out of place in a left-midfield role instead of around the box where his incision was needed.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 6 — Made a couple great saves and could not be blamed for any of the goals.

Emmerson Boyce: 7.5 — Once again a strong performer on the right of the back three.

Adrian Lopez: 6 — Ryan Nelsen lost his mark for the first goal and a sloppy pass from the Spaniard led to the second. He was very good otherwise, but…

David Jones: 7 — Called upon to fill the left centre-half position and did his best. Got forward occasionally too, deserves credit.

Jean Beausejour: 6 — Despite providing the cross for the second goal, this was not one of his stronger performances.

Ronnie Stam: 7.5 — Full of running and endeavour down the right. May be one to keep his place when all the injured players return to the squad.

James McArthur: 6 — Ok on the ball, but not as dominant as usual.

James McCarthy: 9 — Excellent. Drove the team forward in the second half. Capable of scoring regularly — sadly will end up at one of the big clubs if he does.

Jordi Gomez: 6.5 — Poor first half, faded in and out of second, but looked to be the only attacking player with the composure to score. Latics’ biggest threat and was unlucky to hit the crossbar.

Franco Di Santo: 6.5 — Some good running with the ball, was fouled a lot, but didn’t ever look like scoring.

Arouna Kone: 5 — His touch let him down on numerous occasions, and he failed to get his shot off when through in the second half. Needs a goal.

Subs:

Shaun Maloney: N/A — Brought on in a strange left midfield role and looked a little off the pace. Still, if he made it through without injury setback

Mauro Boselli

Moses missed as Latics run out of ideas

The Wigan Athletic revival party was put on hold by an exceptionally well organized and opportunistic West Brom side on Saturday. While Roberto Martinez’s choice of “frustrating” was more than apt, the biggest takeaway appears to be that with Shaun Maloney’s impact reduced by a niggling ankle injury (that has forced him out of the Scotland squad this week), Latics sorely missed a player with the ability to unlock a defence — something Victor Moses used to do with some regularity last season.

In fact, the only memorable moment of dribbling skill resulted in Latics’ best chance of an equaliser, when Franco Di Santo skinned his man down the left hand side before Maloney blazed over. Neither Jean Beausejour nor Ronnie Stam, whose return was pleasing, possess the pace to beat their man for speed. West Brom’s centre halves had a field day clearing hopeful crosses from the box. Ben Watson’s long range strikes were the only other real threat Wigan could muster.

The Good: 

Before West Brom scored, Latics had looked dominant and fluid, if not incisive. Ben Watson was playing some beautiful stuff and was unlucky with his long range strikes. The goal was a good response. Ali Al-Habsi was fantastic. Ronnie Stam was an immediate improvement in the attacking third when he came on, although his crosses were not sharp.

The Bad: 

A lack of imagination on this display. West Brom defended in numbers and Latics could not find a way through. It would have been nice to see Di Santo on the ball more frequently, but he didn’t seem to drop deep enough to get on it. With the amount of possession around the box and Shaun Maloney struggling, Jordi Gomez might have been an option earlier in the game. It also appeared to be an ideal opportunity to give Mauro Boselli a runout, as the attacks appeared to be based on hopeful crosses into the box. He came on very late. Also a shame Ryo Miyaichi and his pace were unavailable through injury.

Conclusions: 

No cause for panic, but this match was crying out for a player willing to run at the WBA defence and force errors. It will go down as a missed opportunity. Players like Jean Beausejour and Shaun Maloney, usually excellent, have failed to convert scoring opportunities in recent matches. Ronnie Stam’s introduction suggested Emmerson Boyce’s attacking play has been acknowledged as sub-standard in recent outings.

Player Ratings:

Ali Al-Habsi: 9 — Despite hurting his shoulder in the warm-up, he was at his very best. One save from Romelu Lukaku in the second half stands out. Top class.

Ivan Ramis: 6 — No errors, but a bit of a wobbly performance after several excellent ones.

Gary Caldwell: 5 — Unlucky with his own goal, but was run ragged by Shane Long and eventually substituted.

Maynor Figueroa: 6 – Almost gave away a goal in the first half with some casual defending. Otherwise, not a bad match.

Emmerson Boyce: 6 — Offered little in attack. Better when dropped to the back three.

Jean Beausejour: 6 — Nice ball for Koné’s goal. Had a good first half, but his worst second half since joining the club with misplaced passes and a spurned opportunity.

James McCarthy: 7 — Strong in midfield, wish he had been able to get forward more often.

Ben Watson: 8 — Probably the best outfield performance, he was the most positive attempting through balls and shots. Gave the ball away frustratingly a few times, but if anyone deserved a goal it was him.

Shaun Maloney: 6 — Quietest performance in a while. West Brom identified him as the main man and marked him heavily, but he was also apparently carrying an injury.

Franco Di Santo: 6 — Also quiet. Only really got on the ball to good effect once or twice. No shots or goal attempts.

Arouna Koné: 6.5 — Did well to stay onside for his goal. Held the ball up well but had little space to operate in, and not much service either.

Subs:

Ronnie Stam: Saw a lot of the ball and put several crosses in, all well defended. A welcome return.

Jordi Gomez: Not enough time to make an impact.

Mauro Boselli: Came on for the last 8 or so minutes, by which point Latics had lost the bulk of possession and were restricted to hopeful crosses — none of which reached him.