1. Formation (3-5-2 vs 4-2-3-1)
With Wanderers switching back to a back three at Pride Park, alarm bells started to ring as the team sheets were announced. Derby’s pace and directness in attack looked like it could cause Wanderers some serious trouble going forward. This was assured in the fourth minute when the home side countered with Vydra and Nugent before Alnwick pulled off a good save. Bolton didn’t defend well first half and the back three looked a shadow of what they can be when they are playing to their best ability. After going 3-0 down at the break, Parkinson made a double substitution and decided to switch to his trusted 4-2-3-1 and Wanderers were better. The two deeper midfielders in Karacan and Henry gave the defence more assurance. Phil Parkinson admitted that the game was over at 3-0 and Bolton found it hard to get back into the game, things looked better in the second half, but the damage was already done. Is the 4-2-3-1 the way to go forward?
2. Lack of Creativity
Starting the game the way we did, it was clear to see that we had gone with three in midfield to try and overpower Derby’s two holding men of Huddlestone and Ledley, this wasn’t to be. These two ran the show in the middle of the park and this cost us our creativity outlets on the wing. Once the second half started, with the addition of Ameobi and Noone we certainly looked more of a threat. Starting with the target man in the form of Wilbraham counteracted any ground work for Wanderers and proved the long balls that we’ve seen for a number of weeks now, are the way we are intending to play.
3. Irreplaceable Vela?
I’m sure even Josh would agree, he’s not in his best form. Starting the past four consecutive games, Vela has looked a shadow of the form he showed when he came back from injury earlier in the season. Against Aston Villa last month, Vela was everywhere. But recently his performances have been lackluster. People have asked, if Pratley was fit, would Vela be starting? The answer is still yes. It seems Parky is trusting Vela to run the game in the number 10 position, but it seems his performances have dropped since Madine left us in January. This maybe a coincidence, but with Vela running in behind Madine, we looked a constant threat. Josh doesn’t have that same presence ahead of him anymore, and I think this has been detrimental for his form.
4. The Pratley Effect
I wrote a piece recently writing how Pratley has been one of the most important members of Phil Parkinson’s side. The stats certainly back this statement up. With Pratley playing, we have 31 points from 26 games, whereas without him we have only 8 points from 14 games. It shows how paramount the skipper is to what we’re doing here. Hopefully Pratley can regain some fitness before the final five games, as I think he is going to be vital for us.
5. Still In Our Hands
Despite what people say, myself included, fate is in our hands. Although Barnsley have a game in hand and sit only two points below us. We still have to play them. We can avoid the drop, our season from here is more important than it’s ever been. Things have been going wrong at the worst time, and I still think we can turn it around and beat the relegation fight. Roll on Tuesday night, and as the cliché goes: 5 cup finals!