Argyle v Watford – previewBy: Jim | March 2nd, 2009
Well well well. A long-overdue and unexpected triumph at Molineux (and necessary, given the fact that no few than FIVE of the bottom seven won on Saturday) has lifted the atmosphere around Home Park and injected just a little more belief into the beleaguered Pilgrims. Saturday’s performance was, so they say, solid and committed, with Ashley Barnes a revelation on his full debut, Gallagher back to close to his best and Chris Barker a stand-out in his battle with the much-lauded Kightly. From the bare stats – a 1-0 win after a goal in the opening 40 seconds – you might imagine it was a case of backs-to-the-wall from there on in, but apparently we had several chances to extend our lead and Wolves rarely threatened, a couple of Ebanks-Blake misses and dubious penalty shouts aside. At the final whistle, we celebrated as though we had won promotion: that and the recent innovation of the post-match huddle ought to have settled any doubts about the strength of unity within the team.
Tomorrow’s game is massive, no question. Watford have been among the strugglers all season and having taken a while to adjust to Brendan Rodgers now, frustratingly for us, have found some form at the crucial time – three wins on the bounce, the latest being a routine disposal of virtually the same Palace side that stuffed us at HP a fortnight ago. I have here for you the lowdown on the ‘Orns courteousy of Watford fan (and author) Matt Rowson:
“Scoring goals hasn’t really been a problem all season, but we’ve been awful defensively and as you’ll be aware that just mashes a team’s confidence after a while.
One of Rodgers’ first signings was Mike Williamson from Wycombe. Despite our reputation as a big ugly team, we actually didn’t have a six footer in the back four before his arrival. Now… he’s six foot four, wins every bloody thing in the air and isn’t bad on the deck. He’s brought the best out of Demerit, who always looked better alongside a “senior” partner and suddenly we’ve kept four clean sheets in five league games since Williamson’s arrival (the other away at Wolves, coincidentally).
So…Loach in goal, a good stopper but doesn’t command his area enough. Mariappa probably right back, a very good defender, consistently impressive despite chaos around him this season. Doyley at left back – our longest serving player, terrific defensively and would have been at a higher level had he been able to pass water. But Rodgers seems to have instilled some confidence in that regard, hence the new “Lloydinho” nickname. Doubt over Demerit… if he’s not fit Mariappa will play CB, Doyley (who is right footed) to RB and your mate Jon Harley at LB. He’s a nasty bugger, but he’s our nasty bugger…. alternatively, with Doyley impressing on the left, solid but unspectacular Arsenal loanee Gavin Hoyte in at RB.
Midfield… another Rodgers signing, Jack Cork is the main man in the centre. He looks like a real player, and there’s as much chance of us signig him permanently as there is of me swimming to the moon. Alongsside him… Ross Jenkins (no relation, but WHAT a name for a Watford youngster) who IS our player and looks magnificent. Cork is nineteen, Jenkins eighteen, Colin tried to rough them up on Saturday predictably enough with little effect.
On the right… Don Cowie, another recent signing from Inverness. Not an out-and-out winger, he times his runs well and gets through a lot of work. On the left, McAnuff who was a boo boy a couple of months ago but – again – has been rejuvenated by Rodgers and looks like the player we thought we’d signed eighteen months ago.
Tommy Smith will play just off the main striker; Player of the Year last year and probably this, he may well be off in the summer but we’re surprised and delighted to have held onto him this long. Tamas Priskin will probably come in after suspension and replace Rasiak, a great finisher, terrific touch, doesn’t impose himself enough but another who has improved enormously under Rodgers.
And for the first time in ages we have strength on the bench… probably Lee (GK), Hoyte, Lee Williamson, Hoskins and either Rasiak or Mat Sadler.”
Thanks Matt. As for the Greens, I expect Luggy to make changes – four games in 11 days is not clever, and we have been poor this season at coping with games coming thick and fast. So, despite his plaudits, expect to see Fallon in for Barnes and possibly Noone for Mackie. The back four should stay the same, assuming no new injuries. That would mean a side looking like:
As I said, four games in 11 days. Assuming 53 points to be guaranteed safety (no team has ever gone down on 53), Argyle are 14 away. Two wins and two draws over the next four games would do an awful lot to calm everybody’s nerves and settle us down. Tomorrow night could be a real rip-roarer, both teams going for it in an attempt to put some clear blue water between them and the dogfight below. We *really need to build on Saturday. Don’t let us down, boys.