Monday, August 16, 2010

ATH: Big Day for Holden

from US Men's National Team

Bolton And Houston

With J Hutcherson -- Stuart Holden looked fearless against Fulham on Saturday, something that should have Bolton Wanderers and United States National Team fans excited. Though it ended 0-0, it was Holden with some of the stronger moments. And that wasn't just because he hit the post in the 78th minute.

Holden was creative with his touches, aware of what the Fulham defense was doing, and willing to take risks to try to open the game up. An earlier shot from distance might have gone well over, but Fulham knew they weren't marking well enough and Holden saw a line. It was his vision that was most impressive, paying attention to his own teammates as well as Fulham, and being careful while looking for that decisive cut through the defense.

Bolton kept their shape, giving up very little in their own half and frustrating a Fulham squad that should've had the edge even at the Reebok Stadium. Fulham had the bulk of possession coming out of the middle of the field, but their shot selection wasn't as threatening as they'd like. Bolton could make the same complaints about their own forwards, finishing with five shots on goal from 11 taken to Fulham's four from 15.

With Bolton finishing out the month away to West Ham United and home against Birmingham City, they shouldn't feel like they need to readdress their attacking options just yet. Hopefully, that means more of Holden's free roaming role while trying to shift the focus of opposing defenses so he doesn't become their target.

The problem with having a midfielder capable of changing the game is not having other attacking options to keep the defense honest. If Bolton can get their attack in order, Holden might look like a bargain when he's working against the big names in September. Bolton gets Arsenal away, Aston Villa away, and Manchester United at home before a relatively easy October by comparison. They have the next two games to figure out what type of team they'll be in practice. Right now, they're flowing through Holden.

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