SussexBaggie speaks...Wolves win and Villa

Last updated : 19 October 2011 By Iain Bate - Wba-mad Editor

For the first time in a while, Albion fans left The Hawthorns on Sunday with that winning feeling again, made even better by the fact the win was against Wolves.

It was also arguably our best performance of the season, with an early goal from Chris Brunt being followed by a professional display and a late goal from Peter Odemwingie to ensure that there would not be a nervous last few minutes as we looked to claim only our second league win of the season.

The pre-match build-up from some Albion fans had focused on the consequences if we had lost the game, with some even suggesting that Roy Hodgson should leave if we were to lose. I was of the opinion that whilst I still fully supported Hodgson, the losing manager would be in a bit of trouble.

Impressive performance

Not only did Sunday see our best team performance of the season, it also saw some fine individual performances. The official Man of the Match was given to Gareth McAuley, which I agreed with at the time. He was immense in the air yet again and alongside the equally impressive Jonas Olsson, ensured that Kevin Doyle struggled to get anywhere near the ball for much of the game.

Billy Jones was another player who was particularly impressive. He replaced Nicky Shorey at left-back, despite spending all of his career with Crewe and Preston respectively, up until this point, playing at right-back. 

I thought our two best performers in midfield were Paul Scharner and Chris Brunt, both of whom produced their best performance of the season at just the right time. Jerome Thomas also deserves a mention for a performance, which was a vast improvement on any performance he has put in since Hodgson has been at the club.

One final player who deserves a mention for their performance is Shane Long, who had an outstanding game and gave the Wolves defence all kinds of problems with his pace and movement.

Returning hero

This week also saw the return to action of a returning Albion favourite in Zoltan Gera, who made his long-awaited return from injury in last night’s reserve game which saw our second-string beat Arsenal 3-1. As well as playing 45 minutes for the first time in over five months, Gera scored one goal and set up another to give Hodgson plenty of food for thought.

There are bound to be plenty of fans wanting to see Gera in the squad for the game against Aston Villa on Saturday, but it is important that he is given time to recover properly from his long injury lay-off. Having said that, both Hodgson and Gera himself seem to be suggesting that he is ready to return to the first-team squad for a Premier League game, so I would not be too surprised if he does get a chance on Saturday.

The other scorers for the reserves were Saido Berahino and Graham Dorrans. Berahino has now scored six goals in five games this season, with the young striker certainly looking like one to watch in the future.

The fact that Dorrans was even included in the side last night will have some surprised some Albion fans, but I think a run-out and a goal will improve his confidence and hopefully lead to him performing slightly better than he has done recently when he gets another chance.

Selection headache

This Saturday sees us face another local derby encounter against Aston Villa, who we famously beat 2-1 at The Hawthorns last season.

Our record at Villa Park over the last few years has not been brilliant, but our performance on Sunday should give our fans reason for optimism ahead of a game which will be a very tough test of the new system we seem to be playing. 

I think the big decision Hodgson has to make Saturday is whether to replace Somen Tchoyi in the starting line-up with Odemwingie after his impressive cameo on Sunday. In my opinion, Odemwingie should be restored to the side alongside Long. Odemwingie and Long appeared to exchange more passes in the final 20 minutes on Sunday than they had done in any other game thus far, which suggests that they are perhaps beginning to form more of an understanding up front. 

There is no doubt that this will be another very tough game, but if we produce a similar performance to Sunday and our key players perform, hopefully we will be able to get another positive result!

Boing Boing!