Friday, 17 January 2014

Eddie has to get his strike force right against Watford

The game on Saturday is a big one. Watford are one of the teams around us in the league and a win would be another closer towards the 50 point first target that many fans believe will bring safety. While AFCB played well against Burton Albion in the cup with Rantie, Pitman and Fraser among the highlights, Eddie will have to look very closely at who starts in this game having seen the team come off second best against Wigan last weekend. 

Eddie said that those that had come into the team on Tuesday had done themselves no harm in pushing for a place on Saturday, and his hand has probably been forced to change things a little with Grabban's move to Brighton. Fraser and Pugh seem to be swapping starting positions each week although there is a possibility that we could see them both play at some point if Eddie believes Ritchie needs a rest. Ritchie has played a lot of football over the Christmas period and into the New Year and it could be time that he just plays for 45 minutes if it was a sign that he was running out of steam in the FA Cup tie.

Eddie also said it was the incentive for some players against Burton to get themselves into the team. "I wanted to give them the opportunity. I didn't think that I was weakening the team tonight," he said. "Changes were justified after the defeat at Wigan and the three players that started TK and Pugh and Brett deserved their call up on their substitute appearance at Wigan."

I also feel that Eddie has to rotate the team a bit because fatigue is bound to creep up on our players who are giving their all against teams that are keeping the ball well. The big decision is what does he do at the top of the field? We now know why Grabban was rested and it gave a chance for Pitman and Rantie to get some confidence and match time. Perhaps it is time to go back to 4-4-2 at home. It worked well for Pitman in mid-week, who again showed that he can be sharp in the box, but he needs to do it against a higher class of opposition on a regular basis. Rantie too showed lightning pace and turned defenders so easily that it is going to be hard for Eddie not to let him play.
Pitman and Rantie have to deliver now.
It's time to step up.
I like the way that Eddie is picking the team on merit and positions are up for grabs in certain areas. But the players only have the Watford game to make their case before the FA Cup match against Liverpool and no doubt Eddie Howe will use that as motivation. Every one will want to be involved in the Liverpool tie and it is up to those picked on Saturday to keep the shirt. So the Watford match should be a great one to watch. 

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