Bolton Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman has the option to go with two front men against Watford
JOE Mason’s arrival has given him the ammunition but will Dougie Freedman give it both barrels against Watford?
There is no question that if fans were polled pre-match at the Reebok this afternoon, the overwhelming majority would plump for a two-man attack against the Hornets.
Despite pressure to go with a more attacking formation at home, Freedman has persisted with naming one recognised striker in all but four of his last 28 games.
In the last few weeks the manager’s hand has been forced, with Lukas Jutkiewicz the only fit front man available following Craig Davies’s controversial departure to Preston North End on loan.
But now he has the option of pairing his two loanees, Mason and Jutkiewicz, the case for giving supporters what they have craved for so long appears a strong one.
Watford held the Championship’s bottom club Yeovil to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday night but before that have looked rather porous on their travels.
They conceded four against Manchester City in the FA Cup, then again at Nottingham Forest – whose second-half switch to a two-man attack made all the difference on the night for Billy Davies’s men.
It was a similar story at Leicester a couple of weeks later, where Danny Drinkwater’s late goal salvaged a 2-2 draw for the home side, who had employed a three-man attack.
Guiseppe Sannino has started to improve results at Vicarage Road and Watford head to the Reebok today without a defeat in their last five.
Freedman is undoubtedly under pressure to sort out his own club’s form and could potentially do himself a favour in the eyes of some onlookers by making a bolder statement of intent with his team selection.
Andre Moritz looks unlikely to feature and Jermaine Beckford is still at least a week away from returning from his hamstring injury, meaning the manager’s options are limited up front.
There are plenty more bodies in midfield for Freedman to pick from – but finding a player in decent form is another matter altogether.
Chung-Yong Lee has shown a few sparks in recent outings but the likes of Chris Eagles, Darren Pratley, Medo Kamara and Jay Spearing have not been at their best and are starting to come under pressure from fans.
Likewise, Mark Davies has found himself isolated, drifting deeper and deeper to receive the ball in positions that fail to do any damage.
Perhaps even the defensive improvement shown in the last two games against Burnley and Millwall could convince Freedman to release the shackles and gamble on an extra striker, as opposed to the insurance policy of a second holding midfielder.
David Wheater’s excellent form since returning to the side has made Wanderers look more solid at the back and while the full-back positions remain a concern, both Tim Ream and Alex Baptiste let no-one down at The Den last weekend.
As the home side this afternoon, the emphasis will be on the Whites to attack. Carving out chances has not been a problem but making them count continues to be a source of frustration for Freedman. Could he give himself and his team a little help by doubling up? There are plenty who feel he would.