This week my thoughts and general articles are all coming late and fast. First I apologize for that I have had very little time over the past week, and I keep saying normality will return (hopefully it will). But before I talk about this weekends game (only two days away!) I first want to take a (painful) look back at last weekends defeat.
It was in all sense of the word a poor game for Latics. We played a mediocre tactical first half, before a self-destructive second half did all the damage. Last season we had played a high tempo quick ball game, that blew United out of the water, this time round we didn't have any of the above.
So what was so different? Well in terms of players there were two differences, the first being no Antolin Alcaraz in the back three. Had the Paraguayan been fit, then I have a feeling that he would have been the man to play ahead of our new Spaniard Ivan Ramis.
Our new defender has looked shaky over his first tentative steps into the Premier League, and who could blame him. It is a much faster and competitive league that we have over here, and at time it catches people out. We do miss Alcaraz a lot in the defense, not only for his quality at tackling, but also for his aerial presence. That was proved against Stoke and the same patterns appeared against Manchester United.
We have no cleared header of the ball when Alcaraz isn't there. Okay we have Gary (Caldwell), yet the Scottish International has yet to really make a great header this season, Caldwell is more the sweeper who due to his great tactical brain and clear up the messes. For me that is the role that Ramis would be best pushed into, more as the sweeper to cover up, rather than an offensive defender.
It was the gap United exploited, the system not working hard enough to close down the free attacking players as they go space in between the defense and the midfield. It is the two 'wide defenders' jobs to close down these players and put the tackles in, had they done so more in the second half it could have been a different story.
Now the other new face that played against United was Arouna Kone. Now the Ivorian has shown that he can replace Moses in a few ways. Mainly a much harder work rate, plus the ability to keep his head in the final third. Yet the striker doesn't have the true pace that Victor did, nor does he has the ball control or the trickery to get away from players.
At times that has and will cost us, as we don't really have a player who can run with the ball and create a chance out of nothing. Albeit that most of Moses chances, he squandered last season, but that isn't the point. There is none making them, to keep the opposition focused on their own defensive work.
This is now when Roberto has a decision to make. Does he stick with his two strikers, who for me have played really well, or does he go for one striker and then a more wide player who has pace to burn.
Against the bigger teams playing Ryo Miyaichi maybe a better option to give us a player to get the ball to and let him run, yet when playing teams around us go more solid up front with the two strikers. It is an idea, and one that I would like to see Martinez try.