Holden Has His First Ineffective Match

west ham's mark noble battles with bolton's stuart holden FA Barclays Premiership. West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers. 21.08.10 Photo By Karl Winter Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Match Summary
: Bolton Wanderers 2 – Birmingham City 2 (English Premier League)

Bolton Wanderers, despite playing most of today’s match with 10 men, eked out a 2-2 draw with visitors Birmingham City. An early goal from Roger Johnson had Birmingham on top before goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen made matters worse for Bolton. In the 38th, Jaaskelainen took offense at Johnson’s relatively harmless challenge and felt the need to slap the Birmingham defender in the face, earning a straight red card. Bolton held on for the rest of the half, but shortly after the restart, midfielder Craig Gardner doubled the lead. Inexplicably, Birmingham did not continue to press their advantage, a decision they’ll surely regret as a Kevin Davies penalty (71) and Robbie Blake free kick (81) leveled the score.

American Performance

Stuart Holden, like most of his teammates, did not have a spectacular day. A bit under pressure from Birmingham’s 4-5-1 during the first half, Holden had little time on the ball, and he made a few bad decisions when he did have time to pick out a teammate. His play brightened in the second half, but he still had difficulty influencing the game, particularly in the middle of the pitch:

by Guardian Chalkboards

The above chart displays Holden’s successful passes, and there’s a conspicuous area  where Holden failed to connect with anyone. He sent service wide, linked with his fellow center midfielder Muamba, played passes backward when under pressure, but he never found any strikers in the middle of the pitch. In fact, he only connected with a striker on three occasions (Kevin Davies in the 30th, 41st, and 50th). This failure is not all Holden’s fault, as manager Owen Coyle likes to play two target forwards and, it must be noted, Bolton played almost an hour at a man disadvantage. Still, Holden needs to find a way to link with his strikers, or his squad may continue to rely on set pieces for goals.

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