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Like Griff I’m only going off what I saw on Football First but I thought that the 1st half was as bad as I’ve seen Latics play in a long time.
The performance was completely disjointed, players unable to trap a bag of cement, retain possession or find a team mate with a simple pass. The only saving grace was that Stoke were almost as bad
I also thought that the 2 goals were symptomatic of everything that has been wrong with Latics season – Keystone Cops defending for the first (1st rule of a defensive header – get it up high & away, not out a head height back into a crowd of players) whilst yet again Al Habsi pushes a shot straight back out into the danger zone instead of away.
I defended Ali on here a few weeks back but he’s at the point where he’s costing us more points than he’s saving us & has done all season (I read on a BBC web preview of one of our recent games that Ali is top of the tree this season for mistakes that cost his team goals & points). I don’t know the reason/s for this dip in his form but it’s looking a longer term issue than a mere blip. IMO there’s no room for sentimentality in football & as much as he’s saved us in the past he needs to be made aware that his position isn’t guaranteed & to buck his ideas up & if he doesn’t then he should be dropped – any other player in any other position would have been by now IMO
Anyway, on to the second half & that was as good as the 1st half was bad. I’m hoping that the first half was just a case of the team settling in to a slightly different system with a couple of players needing to find their feet on their debuts (& both of em were superb in the 2nd half from what I saw.
As someone else has said maybe that 2nd half will act as the spur for them team to push on for the rest of the season
As for the ref, I thought he did well in the main. I think the challenge on Espinoza prior to their 2nd goal was a foul – as soft as it would have been at the end of the day, Espinoza had released the ball & the defender came through & trod/stamped on his foot. He’d given a foul in the 1st half when Maloney had been taken out after he’d released the ball & I don’t see the difference.
Other than that he did okay & he didn’t allow himself to be swayed by teh stoke manager, players or supporters when they started to whinge about Latics fouls & some of our men taking a dive
I agree completely about Crouch though – the only way he is capable of winning a header is by putting his hands on the shoulder of his marker & using em as leverage when he jumps. He does it every time & seems to get away with it about 90% of the time. The only time I’ve seen him get picked up on it almost all the time is when he’s played in european club competitions & slightly less so at international level