Bolton V Wolves
Saturday, 31 December 2011 – 15:00 GMT
English Premier League
Bolton haven’t done things by half this season, with the Trotters the only side in the Premier League not to have drawn a game so far. They either win or they lose – it really has been that simple. Invariably they lose, no fewer than 14 times out of 18 in fact, so why on earth bookmakers have them down as favourites this weekend is beyond me.
The reason why Bolton are tentative favourites is because they are home, and partly because of who they’re facing – fourth from bottom Wolves have won just one of nine of the road and had lost six away matches on the spin before earning an impressive point at Arsenal last time out. But that latter result should give them the belief that they can perform on their travels.
For me, I don’t see an awful lot between them on paper. Neither have excelled this season. However, Wolves do at least look a team, with their spirit and work ethic never questioned. The same cannot be said of Bolton, the team with the leakiest defence in the top flight and whose manager is still none the wiser as to who deserves a place on his team-sheet – probably because the answer to that is very few.
As if sitting second from bottom wasn’t depressing enough, reports suggesting Chelsea have agreed a deal to bring centre-back Gary Cahill to Stamford Bridge as soon as the January transfer window opens will only dampen the mood further at The Reebok, where Bolton have won only once – a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke on 5 November – but lost eight times this season.
To sell arguably your prized asset midway through a season, your most talented defender in the heart of a defence that even with his presence has leaked goals left, right and centre all season (41 in 18 games, which are the worst defensive figures in the Premier League), could be construed as suicidal. It will also fuel many disgruntled fans who haven’t been shy in voicing their disapproval in recent home games.
Wolves have been abysmal away from home, losing six of nine, but as I said, there is a togetherness with them that is clearly missing in the Bolton camp. Plus they have a striker who starts regularly and as a result is repaying the faith shown in him with goals; Steve Fletcher (2/1 with bWin to score any time in proceedings) scored the equaliser at Arsenal on Tuesday, his seventh of the season and his fourth on the road, and his intelligent movement could see him net a few more against the most porous defence in the top flight.
Recommended Bet: Wolves to WIN @ 5/2 (StanJames)
Alternative: Wolves Draw No Bet @ 6/4 (StanJames)
Value Punt: Steven Fletcher to Score 2 Goals or More @ 13/1 (PaddyPower)