Holden Returns, Scores Winner

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

Today marked Stuart Holden’s first Premier League start alongside someone other than Fabrice Muamba. Against Blackburn Rovers, Holden, who had missed two straight matches with a thigh injury, lined up next to Mark Davies in Bolton’s 4-4-2. During Holden’s absence, Davies filled-in with aplomb. His performances, and the tendency of Rovers to play on the counter, gave manager Owen Coyle reason to start Holden and Davies, a more offensive-minded pairing than either Muamba/Holden or Muamba/Davies.

For the first fifty-six minutes, Davies had more influence than Holden. While they each misplaced three passes during that period, Davies attempted twenty-five passes to Holden’s fifteen.

And then Davies picked up his second yellow card.

His dismissal forced Coyle to bring on Muamba and caused Holden to be more proactive. Before Davies was sent off Holden didn’t attempt any shots. But he took two when Bolton were down to ten men. One of those attempts (88th) found the back of the net and ended up as the winner (Muamba scored the other Bolton goal and M. Djouf netted one for Blackburn).

Holden didn’t appear to struggle with his thigh injury, but he was a bit rusty.  He completed just 72% of his passes, below his average of 78%. His six attempted tackles and three successful tackles were also below par, as he averages nine and five.

by Guardian Chalkboards

Hopefully, Holden will need only a game to get back into things (Blackpool’s 5-4-1 formation didn’t help).

And it would be bit unfair to say Holden wasn’t involved before Davies picked up his second card. The gringo did make a number of charges into the box early in the match. His teammates simply didn’t find him.

Owen Coyle will be grateful that Kevin Davies didn’t miss him in the 88th.

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