After the damp squib of our Wembley performance against Bristol City, we followed it up with an even damper one against the inferior opposition of Chesterfield last week. We looked out of sorts, players were arguing among themselves (Purkiss seemed to get a lot of stick), we couldn’t create any decent chances, we effectively played with a man light as Baxendale’s confidence is shot to pieces and we are now conceding soft goals from corners. It doesn’t bode well for this fixture, does it?
Fortunately for us, Notts County are on a rubbish run of form as well, so this game is an ideal opportunity for us to get back to winning ways and stave off any talk of relegation.
So, what will Walsall do to get back to winning ways? Will it be 4-4 freaking 2, with a big man (Bakayoko) up front and two pacy wingers? Will it be exactly the same team that played against Chesterfield? Or, will it be a normal 4-5-1 with a few changes to the personnel?
This being Dean Smith it will be the tried and tested (and failed) many times 4-5-1. The team will look like this:
So the only changes from last week will be Morris coming in for Cook and Morris playing on the left-wing and Sawyers coming in for Baxendale and playing in the hole.
Personally, I would like to see two up front with Bakayoko partnering Hiwula and also Cain partnering Mantom in midfield. Sawyers can come off the bench if needed later but we need to go for the win today and any of the tippy tappy larky that we have been playing lately will only result in the crowd getting restless and destroying the confidence of the players. 4-4-2 doesn’t mean long balls into the box it just means we can get the ball forward a lot quicker instead of the slow build up that we have, which doesn’t suit the skill level of the players (Sawyers aside) and is not helped by our awful bobbly pitch.
Throw Morris in from the start as he is quick, young and full of confidence (whereas Baxendale and Cook are not) after a good loan spell at Wrexham. He can get the ball into the box and with two up front there should be more players actually there to win a header. Bakayoko is a big man who puts himself about a bit. His cameo against Leyton Orient really impressed me a few weeks ago – he deserves the chance today.
Mantom and Cain in the middle together may seem too attacking but Chambers doesn’t ever want to bring the ball forward these days (except for 45 minutes against MK Dons when he was excellent). These two will have more energy and are more likely to provide a goal than Chambers. I would also have Liam Kinsella on the bench today. I saw him for the reserves against Wigan and he was excellent in midfield, snapping away and also being creative at the same time.
Out full-backs should be encouraged to push on more as well and when they do get to the edge of the box there will be someone to cross to rather than having to check back and start the move all over again.
I am looking forward to today’s game now, my own preview has got me going. I only hope Dean Smith reads this blog, I know he is a regular reader of Bescot Banter but they have a bigger budget than me and place far more emphasis on their production value. For today only, at least, lets get back to the meat and potatoes, Mike Bassett style football instead of the motorway service station prawn sandwich attempt at continental tiki-taka style football of late.