UpTheSaddlers Forum

Luton Town (H) Dec 29th, 3pm


#1

"A banner with the strange device, Excelsior"

(Longfellow)

Over the years, Walsall supporters have grown accustomed to experiencing emotions of all shades - the highs of top of the league finishes, winning against Manchester Utd, Newcastle Utd, all of our local rivals, and the lows of relegation and being 2nd best to the likes of Slough Town. One season back in the 1960’s was particularly memorable in that respect - we were undefeated at home in the league (Played 23, Won 19, Drew 4) yet lost at home in the F A Cup to non-league Yeovil Town. However, surely no individual season can compete with the current one for sheer inconsistency - how is it that the same squad (and virtually the same 11 players) can perform so heroically against money-bags Sunderland, whilst at the same time playing two games against apparent no-hopers in Bradford City and Bristol Rovers, losing both and shipping 7 goals into the bargain?

Taking that a stage further, in the hope that our best performances are reserved for games against high flying opposition (Sunderland, Barnsley, Peterborough) we welcome the Hatters of Luton Town, who are currently on a run of 7 straight wins in League One and occupy 2nd place in the table. Their first 3 matches of the season yielded a solitary point, putting them down among the dead men of League One, but a remarkable turnaround now shows them as League One’s leading scorers with 47 goals (we have 25) - and it’s not down to any individual either, they have Elliot Lee with 10 goals, James Collins with 9, and Harry Cornick with 7. They are the form team of League One (by a country mile) … current form:-

24 Nov Gillingham (A) Won 1-3
27 Nov Bradford City (H) Won 4-0
8 Dec Fleetwood Town (H) Won 2-0
15 Dec Coventry City (A) Won 1-2
22 Dec Burton Albion (H) Won 2-0
26 Dec Scunthorpe United (A) Won 0-2

Dean Keates would appear to have something of a mountain to climb in terms of motivation (and, possibly, selection) for this game. It has often been accepted that Walsall players may well have deficits in terms of technical ability, but much of that was compensated by the pride in wearing the shirt, by attitude and sheer effort, and it therefore hurts all the more when players appear to be lacking even those aspects. How often have we seen Walsall players coming off distinctly second best when going for the ball in 50/50 situations? Why do certain players appear to think that tracking back to help a beleaguered defence isn’t worth the effort? And what has happened to the Walsall team that was comfortably in the play-off zone after 9 games, yet 15 games later we are in 14th place and sliding inexorably downwards? Even Keates is on record as saying that we are on the verge of being in a relegation battle.

There are some positives (if you look hard enough) - Joe Edwards is probably ready for a start, having played most of the 2nd half against Bristol Rovers. George Dobson is back to match fitness and is perhaps ready to contribute to a real ‘man-of-the-match’ award, rather than the ‘ersatz’ one he got on Boxing Day. And after the strange wing tactics that were employed against Bristol Rovers hopefully lessons have been learned…

Prediction? On current form anything other than a defeat would be something of an achievement. Luton Town’s goalscoring prowess would seem to completely rule out a clean sheet (what’s a clean sheet, anyway?), so in a spirit of boundless optimism let’s go for a 1-1 draw, with an Albert McPherson piledriver to save the day for the Saddlers.

UTS


#2

1-1 in typical Saddler’s fickle football farce.


#3

Most predictable defeat since Peterborough away…

That said I’d be amazed if this is anything other than a comfortable defeat. Luton are a very good team atm and have realistic chance of top 2.

The game at Kenilworth road was a bit of a mismatch.

0-3.


#4

After losing to bristol i fully expect us to win this, such is our season so far :smile:


#5

Heart says 1-1

Head and Reality says 0-4


#6

We’ll win because we’re ■■■■■■■ weird.


#7

After yesterday’s debacle I expect a thrashing but we are a strange lot so maybe we might escape with a draw. 1-1 UTS


#8

God help us if we concede early.


#9

We need to rest a few and bring a few in from the cold. After all, what have we got to lose?

My team would be:

Roberts

Kinsella
Martin
Guthrie
Johnson
Edwards

Osbourne
Dobson

Ferrier
Cook
Gordon

Martin, Edwards, Kinsella and Edwards can all interchange but it also gives us a solid 5 with Osbourne in front when we have to dig deep.

Dobson is capable of a raking pass and both Ferrier and Gordon can get behind the back for Cookie Monster to snaffle up any scraps.

Keates played doggedly and while we haven’t got the quality of a Graydon team, the resting of our full backs may certainly get the fans back onside.

I expect Benning and Manny Smith to arrive in January to settle the ship and don’t be surprised if we get a Midlands loanee (Darren Bent perhaps?) I also can see Harry Souttar joining but the path now may signal the end of pretty football in pursuit of some points on the board.


#10

Keates to change the formation and starting line up again, but I can only see another defeat, 0-2.


#11

I’ve thought about this and would go:

Roberts

Wilson Fitzwater Johnson Edwards

Osbourne Kinsella Ronan

Gordon Cook Ferrier

A 433 that can go into a 451 when defending.

I’d begrudging play Wilson, because anything is better than Devlin. Edwards can fill a role at left back, but it’s a lot to ask after not being fully fit.

I’m fairly sure Devlin and Leahy will start - because who else is there?

The only other option is possibly:

Roberts

Fitzwater Martin Johnson

Edwards Osbourne Ronan Kins Morris

Cook

Argument then is Cook mobile enough to play as a lone frontman? I remember Morris playing well as a left wing back at Sheff U a few years ago.

I just don’t think there is much room for manoeuvre.


#12

Edwards played well v Sheffield United at LB too. I also remember seeing him at RB when Whitney played McCarthy at CH and Edwards was fine.

I agree that it is a lot to ask; however, there is arguably more work in the engine room of midfield (arguably Edwards’ best position) but he needs minutes before building up the strength and stamina for that role.

I know that we’re at home but unfortunately we’re in a bad spell against a good team. If anyone offered me a clean sheet I would take it because confidence is at rock bottom.

I feel that Edwards, Osbourne and Martin on the pitch would all help. As someone else said, the like of Oliver Burke or Sakho (even for a month) could get confidence going again - the like of Ronan and Morris lack the experience or tactical intelligence to help right now.

As another curve ball, would it be worth asking Rowett if we could have Charlie Adam for a month? Guthrie might even score from a corner with his deliveries!

A scrappy point now could define our season but we need to stop the rot and the team are crying out for experience, leadership and good old fashioned nous.


#13

Wilson better than Devlin? A rightback/midfielder who is just returning after injury at left back? No Guthrie the only defender who did well on Boxing Day? Not for me I have to say. If you are going to play Wison put him in front of Leahy as happened at Peterborough where I am told he played well. If Osbourne is fit bring him into midfield as although he isn’t very good the two who played there on Boxing Day where out of form. I think on balance I would play Dobson on the basis he won’t play as badly again. The wide right is a problem but of the two I suppose Morris is the better option. I would leave Cook and Gordon up front.
In January we clearly need a defensive midfielder…I think we have really missed Adam Chambers and a replacement for Ginnelly as well as another striker.


#14

We’re gonna do a Sheffield United again.

4-1 to us.


#15

We’ll get ■■■■■■■


#16

We got battered at their place playing a 4-4-2. I imagine Keates will go for a defensive 4-3-3/4-5-1 to try and nullify Luton’s strength in midfield and attempt to pin their excellent full-backs in.

Roberts

Devlin
Fitzwater
Guthrie
Leahy

Edwards
Kinsella
Dobson

Ismail
Cook
Morris

I predict a narrow 2-1 loss with Ismail on the scoresheet for us.


#17

I think you will not be too far off with that team…


#18

Gordon’s impressed me lately. Keep him in but play him a bit wider, excellent workrate.

I agree it’s probably time for Edwards to start as he’s been back involved for a month so can manage an hour I’m sure.


#19

I think that might be it. You might see Osbourne also come in perhaps ?

I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts in Ferrier for Morris given his performance Saturday. That said, that makes our left flank with Morgan and Leaky very exposed.


#20

I wouldn’t even consider starting with Ismail.
Every time he comes on as a sub I think “why didn’t he start?” and every time he starts I think “why did he start with him?”