What a fantastic win. With the absence of Pogbrenyak and Murphy I was initially very concerned, but after half an hour it was clear we were fairly unaffected, and to what a degree. Our best away performance of the season which included milestone goals, 30 yard free kicks and not a single weak performance. Makes you wonder why we don’t perform like this away more often. But let’s not get caught up in that too much.
Schwarzer – 6, I feel like for the last several player ratings I’ve marked Schwarzer at consistently average scores. Not because he’s been playing particuarly bad (Villa away aside) but he’s just had not much to do. For that, our defense deserves alot of credit. The same thing applies to the Bolton game, and actually he didn’t even have many crosses to deal with.
Hughes – 7, Hughes is, I believe, having his first consistent run at centre half this season, and he has, without a doubt, laid down a marker. I honestly thought that he couldn’t displace Senderos permanently because he seemed like the natural choice for Jol. And Senderos still has alot going for him, I still believe he is a very good defender with fair bit of ability but also with a fair bit of recklessness to his game as well. Either way, Hughes again had a good game yesterday which included a great near post run to cover a dangerous cross, preventing Bolton player from heading into the back of the net.
Hangeland – 7, a good performance from the tall Norwegian, who several times got vital interceptions or touches on the ball when Bolton broke into the box. Sold himself silly for N’Gog though and he is thankful to his compatriot Riise that Bolton didn’t score from it.
Kelly – 7.5, we dominated down our right side and credit has to go to both right sided players for it. Kelly went up and down his flank with exuberance all afternoon, although I would still like to see him get to the byline more. At the other end of the pitch he did well, Bolton creating little down his side and when they did he had two fantastic blocks to prevent a cross then a shot.
Riise – 8, he had a game similar to Kelly (although maybe not so much of a driving presence, but that might also be down to Kacaniklic infront of him) but with two incidents of huge significance at either end. The first was a fantastic tackle on N’Gog after he sold Hangeland down the river. Riise came across and just as N’Gog looked set to fire it into the back of the net stretched out a leg and got a foot to the ball. Brilliant tackle. The second was when Dempsey found him with Kacaniklic both running at the full back. It gave him the space to charge downfield with the ball before demonstrating nice awareness to pick out Diarra who slotted home. Very good game for Riise.
Diarra – 8, showed his class on Saturday I believe. Orchestrated our midfield play with neat, clever passes and nice movement and positioning, while making several successful tackles and interceptions, although a couple of times a midfield runner did break through untracked. He also ended up with an assist (N’Gog fouled Diarra as he totally ghosted past the Bolton midfield for Dempsey’s free kick) and a goal to his name, which along with his assist against Wolves shows that he has the nous to know when to get forward.
Dembele – 6.5, Dembele has been playing within himself for a few games now. He worked hard as always and burst forward more than I’ve seen him do off the ball actually, but we didn’t really see him beat players with the ease he normally does, primarily because he didn’t give himself the opportunity to. You have to begin to wonder whether the discipline you have to play with in central midfield is impacting on him.
Duff – 8, a second consecutive blinding performance from Duff who would have given Alonso nightmares for weeks to come no doubt. Duff totally dominated the young full back, beating him with consumate ease at regular intervals throughout the game. The play for the Dempsey header was particuarly nice; a little feint which Alonso completely bought, and when he stuck a lazy foot out Duff had already gotten 3 yards on him before floating it invitingly into the 6 yard box with his weaker foot. He was unfortunate not to score, and he deserved too, but Bogdan denied him twice although when through on goal he didn’t make it easy for himself with a poor touch onto his right foot.
Kacaniklic – 6, after an engaging debut against Norwich as a sub last week young Swede Kacaniklic was given his first start in place of the injured Pogrebnyak, and while he looked bright in some places he was fairly quiet. I wouldn’t go as far as to say weak, and he definately offers a degree of balance in the midfield (although it has an affect on Riise’s play), infact one neat little moment involved the nice one two he offered Dempsey, but he didn’t see as much of the ball as he did against Norwich.
Ruiz – 7, as I said on Twitter Ruiz ran the most out of any player on the pitch in the first half, just as he did against Norwich. So hopefully he’s now excorcising that lazy ‘lazy’ label. Problem is he doesn’t look like he’ll run much more this season, following reports of a break in his foot which could rule him out until late June and it’s such a shame seeing as finally he’s looking at home in this League. He did well, knitting together attacking play with incisive forward passes far up the pitch.
Dempsey – 9, I’m not sure what to say about this guy. He is a machine, so fabulously talented. I can’t think of a weak area of play. Especially now that he’s scored a free kick, and what a free kick it was, arrowing into the top corner from fully 30 yards, before following it up with a good bit of movement to get free in the box and head in from 6 yards. A very different goal, but that is what Dempsey’s all about. Aside from that his key passing was superb (look at the quick thought and execution of the balls through to Duff and Riise) and he was strong playing upfront. He doesn’t offer a threat in behind, which is why I still think he’s better served on the flank but it’ll be now interesting to see if he plays behind the forward in the absence of Ruiz. 21 goals in 40 games this season. That’s what’s up.
Etuhu – 6, came on for Ruiz which allowed Dembele to go up behind Dempsey which made me feel a bit nostalgic. He was assured, not much time to impress and didn’t do alot spectacuarly but he allowed us to close out the game with ease.
Frei – N/A, a bright cameo from the talented youngster, although I perhaps would have liked him to come on earlier and it’s probably a shame we didn’t wrap up that third before we did. Thought he was on for a sensational goal when he dribbled past 3 Bolton players before the fourth shut him out.
Trotta – N/A, again, another bright cameo from another youngster and demonstrates Jol is thinking about giving them more play time now (but where’s Briggs at?!). Did really well actually to work space outside of the box and fired in a low shot which Bogdan handled pretty well.