SussexBaggie speaks...Bolton and Shane Long

Last updated : 23 November 2011 By Iain Bate - Wba-mad Editor

Our 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday saw us produce our best performance of the season, as goals from Jerome Thomas and Shane Long helped us to an important victory.

Despite the scoreline suggesting otherwise, we always seemed to be in control of this game and only looked like conceding when Ivan Klasnic converted a dubious penalty awarded for a foul on Fabrice Muamba by Thomas.

Thankfully, we got what our second-half performance deserved when Long sent an excellent header from a Nicky Shorey cross into the bottom corner to give us a much-needed three points ahead of another tough game this weekend against Spurs.

There has been plenty of talk since the Bolton game as to why we suddenly played a better style of football than we have done throughout the majority of this season thus far, with it being a particularly large improvement on the recent defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.

There’s only one Shane Long

The return of Long to the side, just four weeks after he picked up a serious injury at Aston Villa, was a major boost and certainly saw us cause their back four plenty of problems. Not only did Long’s pace trouble David Wheater and Gary Cahill throughout the game, but his aerial ability saw him win the majority of the headers he contested against opponents who are significantly taller than he is.

The way in which Long and Gera, who played just behind the Republic of Ireland striker, linked up was also a particular highlight of what was a much improved display.

The fact that there were so many players who could be considered as potential Man of the Match candidates shows what an impressive display it was, with no fewer than five or six players deserving praise for their performances.

Jonas Olsson once again produced an exceptional display alongside Gareth McAuley at the heart of our defence, with the pair of them keeping the physical presence of Kevin Davies quiet all game.

Shorey was another player who played particularly well after making his return to the side having been dropped for four games. I was quite surprised at Billy Jones being dropped to accommodate the inclusion of Shorey, but he certainly justified his selection with the kind of faultless display at left-back which made him such an integral member of our squad last season.

Youssouf Mulumbu started the match slowly, but seemed to be returning to his best in the second half, as he drove us on and got stuck into challenges as we all know he is capable of after his impressive displays last season.

Despite conceding a penalty for the second consecutive home game, I thought Thomas put in a much improved performance on the left wing. For the first time in the league this season, he seemed confident enough to take on and beat the full-back. His goal was well-taken and he was involved in the vast majority of our best moves, so hopefully this can be the start of an improved run of form.

Gera received the sponsors Man of the Match award, with this probably being due to a combination of a very impressive individual performance and the fact that it was his first home appearance since his return to the club over the summer. He appeared to be the missing link in terms of being able to link play between the midfield and Long, with it being the first time this season that we have really seen much of an understanding between our two main attacking players.

I gave my vote for Man of the Match to Long, however. Considering many people expected him to be injured for another couple of weeks, his performance was outstanding and the fact that he scored the winning goal ensured that he would deservedly receive the headlines and plaudits.

Peter Odemwhingie

Another Albion story which has emerged today is that of Roy Hodgson publicly stating that we have not seen enough from Peter Odemwingie this season, and even suggesting that he could play despite the various injuries he has suffered from.

In my opinion, it looks as though Hodgson has lost patience with Odemwingie after seeing players such as Gera and Long return from serious injuries to have a big impact on our performance against Bolton.

However, I also think Hodgson may have decided to make his frustration public in a bid to get a positive reaction from Odemwingie and to see his performances improve after a very poor start to the season.

This weekend sees us take on Spurs at The Hawthorns, in what will be another very tough game against one of the best sides in the Premier League.

Aston Villa showed us exactly how not to play against them on Monday night, as they were lucky to only lose 2-0 against a Spurs side who are in exceptional form at the moment.

We drew both of our games against them last season, with Simon Cox’s spectacular late equaliser at White Hart Lane undoubtedly being one of the highlights of the season from an Albion perspective.

To achieve a similar result this season, we are going to have to keep the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor quiet.

It won’t be easy, but if our key players are on form and we play a similar kind of football to the style which appeared to be very effective against Bolton on Saturday, hopefully we can pick up another positive result!

Boing Boing!

Can Albion take the form they showed against Bolton into the Tottenham game? Have your say here at Baggies Banter