Where We Are
A reasonable performance against Arsenal in the cup on Friday resulted in a 4-0 defeat to end our FA Cup run. There’s no shame in losing at the Emirates as many better sides will suffer that fate this season. However the manner in which we conceded the first two goals was disappointing, giving the ball away cheaply after a spell of possession for the first and then conceding from a corner soon afterwards. It’s a case of ‘what might have been’ in that a decent showing in the second half when we had lost the fear factor that dominated our first half display.
However defeat was largely inevitable and we must now move on to the more important business of re-energising our league campaign. We are unbeaten in our last 5 games in League One but we must start winning rather than drawing games if we want to push towards the top 6. Largely our problem has been being unable to seize games from the very start and having to come from behind to take points. You feel that we would improve our chances of a promotion charge if we could play for a full 90 minutes more often.
The bad news is that our ‘want away striker’ Leon Clarke has picked up an injury during the Arsenal match which will leave us with Denzel Slager and Billy Daniels as our only recognised available strikers. With Daniels in good form playing on the left and with Moussa back to his favoured position just behind the lone striker then you would think that Denzel would be given another chance to show Pressley what he has. However the news is that youth-team player George Thomas (no relation to Conor) will be drafted into the squad and may even start tonight’s fixture against Leyton Orient.
Last Time We Played
We’ve played Leyton Orient in every competition this season bar the FA Cup. Our first meeting this season saw us lose to them 3-2 in an entertaining League Cup first round game. Then we played out a dour goalless draw in the JPT in early October and were eventually knocked out by the O’s on penalties. Our most recent meeting with Orient saw us beat them 3-1 in the league which made us the first team to beat them in the league.
How They’re Doing
Whilst many thought that the eventual end to their long unbeaten run at the start of the season would precipitate a slide back towards their perceived mean, Leyton Orient have been much more resilient than anticipated. Despite possessing a small squad Russell Slade’s side remain in the top two in the division and above some of the heavy pre-season favourites such as Wolves and a disintegrating Peterborough. Their recent form is pretty good having won their last 3 games.
They’ll be without David Mooney, Jamie Jones and Shaun Batt for tonight’s game with all three being key players at Brisbane Road. However they’ve strengthened in the January transfer market and seem to be pursuing a policy of signing ex-Coventry players with Robbie Simpson, Jamar Loza and Chris Dagnall all having signed. This will be particularly worrying for us given that we’ve conceded goals at almost every opportunity when faced with ex-City players, Chris Dagnall in particular may have something to prove given that Pressley turned down the chance to sign him following a decent loan spell.
Given that we’ve already played Orient thrice this season I suspect most of you reading will be au fait with their strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless Moses Odubajo, Kevin Lisbie and Dean Cox will be their most dangerous attacking players. Romain Vincelot does a tremendous job screening a pretty fearsome defence with the rugged Nathan Clarke and Scott Cuthbert amongst their ranks.
The main cause for optimism will be the absence of star goalie Jamie Jones in goal for tonight’s fixture. The gloves will be given to Hull loanee and Swiss international Eldin Jakupovic who’s been relatively decent for them. However with a new goalkeeper playing with an unfamiliar defence our makeshift attacking line-up may be able to cause confusion.
Given the absence of Leon Clarke for tonight’s match and the lack of transfer activity thus far tonight’s match feels like one we could do without. No doubt there will be one or two signings before the window closes on Friday night but obviously tonight’s trip to London comes too soon for us.
We’re up against an in-form opposition who have been boosted by signings in the transfer window giving them a strength in depth. Additionally Orient were allowed a rest on the weekend by virtue of their exit in the FA Cup at the third round. This means that Russell Slade will have prepared for this match in much greater detail than Steven Pressley. Orient will be more than ready for us and we can only really hope to catch them cold in the opening minutes.
I’ll try and be positive and go for a 1-1 draw which would be a good point given the circumstances of tonight’s game.