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August 23rd, 2012 / Armchair Punter - Category:
Football – England – Championship
Friday 24th August 2012 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Apologies for this being a little late…
Bolton Wanderers take on Nottingham Forest at the Reebok Stadium on Friday night with the hosts looking to post back-to-back victories for the first time since March when they were still in the Premiership.
Back then, they beat QPR and Blackburn Rovers both with 2-1 scorelines and these were both home matches too incidentally. If there was a record for the number of pre-season friendlies then Bolton must be in contention as during this summer they played a total of 11 friendly matches, and the players should be ‘match-fit’ if nothing else by now! Manager Owen Coyle has drafted in a couple of players also during this time with former Leeds United keeper Andy Lonergan joining The Trotters to cover for the departure of Jussi Jaaskelainen who has re-joined Sam Allardyce and West Ham.
Keith Andrews from West Brom, defender Matt Mills from Leicester City (solid signing) and Benik Afobe (on loan from Arsenal) are the other stand-out signings to add to a squad that has pretty much remained despite the drop.
Manager Owen Coyle would have endured a Championship baptism of fire on the season’s opening day when his side travelled to Burnley and got beaten 0-2! But with that tricky and awkward fixture out of the way, Bolton bounced back quickly with a midweek win over Derby County 2-0 at home and the visit of Nottingham Forest is next up.
Bolton have a number of dangerous players at their disposal despite being relegated from the Premiership; midfielders Eagles, Petrov, Pratley, M.Davies and Andrews, along with Kevin Davies, David N’Gog and new signing striker Marvin Sordell from Watford.
Let’s not forget their defence consisting of Mills, Ricketts, Knight and Mears also.
Nottingham Forest make the trip up north for this one on the back of a couple of solid results; 1-0 at home over Bristol City and a hard-earned 1-1 draw at Huddersfield midweek sees them currently in the top six. New manager Sean O’Driscoll will be keen to gain an improvement on last season’s finish of 19th place, which was in no small part down to the ‘wally with the brolly’ Steve McLaren.
Forest have swooped for a few handy players in the off-season with the likes of Simon Gillett, Daniel Harding, Daniel Ayala, Simon Cox, Sam Hutchinson (on loan from Chelsea), Greg Halford and Danny Collins. Defenders Luke Chambers and Joel Lynch are the notable departures and it’s a similar picture as with the recent Blackburn Rovers/Hull City fixture where the hosts’ squad remained largely the same, whilst the visitors have a new manager and a large influx of new players.
This suggests to me that Bolton have the edge tonight over their opponents, and also given Nottingham Forest’s away form of last season (8-3-12 27/31) I think they will depend on their home form to establish a mid-table position this season which I feel is their true league position right now; a 2-1 home win for Bolton here, but again I’ll play it safe as it’s early season and a draw loses half of your stake.
Pick: Bolton Wanderers AH-0.25 @ 1.77 Pinnacle
August 21st, 2012 / callum - Category:
Bolton were turned over by Lancashire rivals Burnley on
Saturday on their return to life in the Championship. The defeat would have
been a sore one to take for manager Owen Coyle as it came against his former
club but there’s a further 45 games to be played in the league so I doubt he’ll
be too worried. In truth, Bolton played pretty well, especially in the opening
hour but they never took advantage when they were on top and paid the ultimate
price as the home side were clinical when prevented with opportunities. The
players have not had to wait long to make amends, however, as they play their
first home game of the season tonight. Coyle will be stressing to his players
the significance of a win tonight. Not only would it be their first victory, it
would show their powers of recovery after defeat against Burnley and also lay
down a marker that they intended to make the Reebok something of a fortress.
Derby squandered a two goal lead against newly promoted
Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday at Pride Park and will be rueing the fact that
they were unable to see the game out as Wednesday scored very late on to rescue
a point. Nigel Clough is now in his fourth full season in charge of the club
and will be hoping to build on the progress his side made last year when they eventually
finished 12th – their highest league placing under Clough. Not
blessed with the finances of certain clubs in the division, County have had to
make do with the limited resources they have available to them but football
supporters are a demanding lot and the Derby faithful will be hoping to mount
some sort of challenge of the play-offs. Tonight’s match will be a very good
test of where they are at in terms of the Championship and what they can expect
from the season ahead.
Coyle has admitted that he would like to strengthen the
midfield area and has been linked with Jay Spearing of Liverpool in recent
days. He will have to go with what he has for the moment and as I alluded to
during my preview of the Championship, one of the best bit’s of businesses he
could wish to do is keep hold of Mark Davies who is very much the playmaker in
the middle of the park.
County are very much a Jekyll and Hyde type of team as they
are capable of beating anyone on their day but they all too often disappoint
and that’s why they have never achieved anything other than a mid-table finish
under Clough’s rein. This was no more evident than on Saturday as they raced into
a 2-0 lead only to fall out of the match and lose two points as a result.
Finding consistency is going to be key if they wish to better themselves this
I have tipped Bolton for the league and promotion already
and I’m not losing faith even though they were turned over by Burnley. It was a
derby match and it was just about the hardest match they could have wished for
considering the role of Owen Coyle. I very much believe they will get their season
up and going tonight by taking all three points against Derby.
Bolton 8/11 @ Totesport
February 10th, 2012 / callum - Category:
Premier League Tips
English Premier League
Bolton v Wigan
Another top flight game but this time the action focuses on the bottom end of the table as third bottom Bolton play host to bottom of the table Wigan at the Reebok.
Owen Coyle has remained the calmest person at Bolton Wanderers despite their lowly league position and poor form this season. After reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season and performing with great credit in the league, much was expected from Wanderers with another year under their belt working with the former Burnley manager. It’s not panned out that way and after last week’s loss away to Norwich they find themselves back in the relegation zone. It’s a densely packed bottom half of the table as 10 points separate 10 teams. Conceivably, all those sides could be involved in the shakeup come the end of the season but one thing is certain – Bolton are definitely involved in it. Their home form needs to improve if they want to ensure they stay in the division. Two wins from 12 games is just not good enough; although they are currently on an unbeaten run of five matches in all competitions at the Reebok.
Wigan have it all to do between now and May if they wish to survive another season. Last season’s dramatic last day escape was indicative of their never say die attitude but they have been terrible for much of this season. Hugo Rodallega was their star man last season but he’s been out of form this time around and they have, as yet, failed to replace them. 21 goals scored is the worst total in the Premier League and in serious need of improvement. Their top scorer is Franco Di Santo with a measly four goals to his name and it is going to take a mammoth effort if they are to climb off the bottom of the table and reach safety. Currently on a run of 10 games without a win so confidence, understandably, is going to be low. Roberto Martinez will remain confident that he can turn things around like they did last year but their performances need to improve before the results will.
As well as being a very important match in terms of league positions, it’s also a game the public look forward to as both clubs are situated nearby each other. It’s unlikely to be one for the purists although both managers do prefer to play football, the situation they are in should dictate that it is tense and fraught.
A Bolton win and Wigan are cast even further adrift at the bottom of the table whilst also suffering a further blow to their confidence. A point is not the worst result but they really do need to start winning games. If it wasn’t for Tim Howard’s catastrophic error last weekend it would have been another defeat. Bolton are performing slightly better of late and may just have enough.
My Selection: Bolton to beat Wigan
Best odds available: 21/20 available with William Hill
January 6th, 2012 / callum - Category:
FA Cup Tips
The third round of the FA Cup takes centre stage this weekend when the Premier League sides enter the competition and one of those, Bolton, make the short trip to take on Macclesfield.
League Two Macclesfield have, of course, had to win two ties to get to this stage and although they comfortably brushed aside East Thurrock in the First round, it took them two attempts to get the better of Chelmsford City of the Conference North in the last round. A 1-1 draw away was followed by a narrow solitary goal victory when the teams met in the replay at Moss Rose. It’s the first time since 2009 that they have got this far and one that occasion they were also drawn at home to a Premier League side from the North West; Everton, to whom they lost narrowly 1-0. Saturday’s game will be a boost to their finances at Moss Rose but it is also a chance to play against a Premier League side again and the fact it’s against a local rival means the fans will come out in their droves and make it an excellent atmosphere.
Bolton are in the midst of a relegation battle after a terrible first half of the season. Wednesday’s 2-1 away victory against Everton was only their fifth win all season long despite it being their 20th league game to date. Owen Coyle has stuck to his guns and continued to play the expansive football which served them so well last season. As well as comfortably avoiding relegation last term, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup only to be humiliated 5-0 by Stoke at Wembley. Clearly that defeat has left a mark on the players still at the club as they started the season very slowly and looked low on confidence for much of it. Their last four games have saw two wins and a draw so there is definitely evidence there to suggest that things are turning around and they are getting some sort of consistency over the festive period.
Macclesfield are enjoying a decent enough season in League Two where they are 12 points clear of the relegation zone in mid-table. An run at the play-off’s look’s out the question with an 11 point gap to bridge so they can focus a lot of attention on tomorrow’s match in the knowledge that they should be plying their trade in League Two come August. Their home form is also very strong as they have suffered just two defeats at Moss Rose all season.
Bolton will no doubt rest some of their players and with the likely sale of Gary Cahill to Chelsea expected to be completed this weekend, there is little chance of their captain featuring. However they do have a big squad with the likes of Tuncay, Robbie Blake and Sam Ricketts all looking to be involved.
Coyle is obviously targeting Premier League survival this season and the FA Cup will have to play second fiddle but they are relatively well blessed with a big squad and should still have too much quality for their opponents tomorrow.
My Selection: Bolton to beat Macclesfield
Best odds available: 8/11 available with Victor Chandler
Final score: 2:2
December 30th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
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)
October 1st, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Bolton V Chelsea
English Premier League
Sunday, 2nd October 2011 – 13:30 (GMT)
Chelsea inflicted Bolton’s heaviest home defeat last season when drubbing the Trotters 4-0 at The Reebok in January – and there’s every chance of another landslide result when the pair reacquaint on Sunday.
The Blues, who have made encouraging start to the season, after taking 13 points from the 18 that went on offer, couldn’t of wished for a more favourable fixture in which to head into the forthcoming two-week break due to internationals. It’s a fixture they’ve always enjoyed, one which has guaranteed them points over the years, as well as goals, against an opponent who have seldom caused them problems in the Premier League, if truth be told.
In total, these two sides have met on 24 occasions in the Premier League era, with The Reebok playing host to 12 of them. Bolton were victorious in two of those (home), but their most recent was way back 1997. They’ve also failed to register a single point from any of the previous eight, which thinly veiled means Chelsea are searching for their ninth straight Reebok victory on Sunday afternoon, having won the previous eight by a staggering aggregate of 18-0.
Nothing is ever a formality in football, yet I’m wandering how on earth this isn’t going to be another straightforward away win for Chelsea, who have been in supreme form of late. Their performance at Old Trafford a few weeks merited far more than a 3-1 defeat; they were rampant at home to Swansea last week winning 4-0, despite playing much of the game with a numerical disadvantage, while only Salomon Kalou’s stupidity denied them what would have been an Champions League victory over Valencia in Spain.
Bolton, meanwhile, well their form in recent weeks couldn’t be more contrast. A 3-0 loss at Arsenal last weekend was their fifth straight league defeat of the season, their tenth reverse in their last eleven Premier League games. The Reebok hasn’t been their saviour, either, having lost all three of their matches there so far this season. Two of which were against the two Manchester clubs, United and City, by an aggregate of 2-8 as well. So expect a sombre atmosphere in Lancashire, especially after the Trotters were humbled by Norwich last time out.
To compound matters for Bolton, manager Owen Coyle is struggling to put a squad together for Sunday. Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen is doubtful, Stuart Holden has been ruled out for six-months, top-scorer Ivan Klasnic is suspended while Gael Kakuta is ineligible.
So… It should be a case of ‘help yourself, Chelsea’s attackers’. Ironically, the one forward in desperate need of a few goals, and will have licked his lips at the prospect of a trip to Bolton, is unavailable. Fernando Torres, a rejuvenated Spaniard who has two goals in his last two league starts and could have netted a few more in midweek, will serve the first of his three-match domestic suspension for seeing red in his team’s 4-1 win over Swansea last week.
Either Daniel Sturridge or Dider Drogba, the latter has six goals in his last five appearances versus Bolton, will step in and deputise for the suspended Torres, and both will be extremely keen to shine in what is a limited window of opportunity for the striking pair.
I really don’t see anything other than a comfortable, possibly even emphatic away win. Chelsea have won 4-0 on each of their last two league visits to The Reebok, so there’s one obvious value bet already. Another is Ramires continuing where he left off against Swansea.
The Brazilian midfielder extended his goal tally for the Blues to four in 47 appearances with two accomplished finishes last week, and although he is often one of the first players at Chelsea to come in for criticism when results aren’t going their way, he’s gradually maturing into a fine player; a box-to-box midfielder who is now getting forward to good affect. The 24-year-old should have added another in Valencia on Wednesday, too.
Ramires won’t be short of room to surge into at The Reebok either, against a team lacking in combative individuals who have also conceded goals-aplenty at home this season.
Betting Tip: Ramires to score @ 5/1 Unibet
Chelsea 4-0 (Correct Score) @ 25/1 Boylesports
Chelsea – 1.5 (Asian Handicap) @ 27/20 Bet365
May 13th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Blackpool V Bolton
Saturday, 14 May 2011 – 12:45 (GMT)
Barclay’s Premier League
Bolton have gone their last eleven away matches in the Premier League without winning, while Blackpool have taken maximum points from only one of their previous ten league encounters at Bloomfield Road – so who on earth will come out on top when the two meet on Saturday? Almost every piece of background data would suggest neither.
There have been some memorable encounters in the Barclay’s Premier League this season, one of which was the reverse meeting at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium. Both teams threw caution to the wind and spent the entire 90 minutes peppering each other’s goals. The end product was a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw. I reckon we could be in for more of the same at Bloomfield Road, when the two renew acquaintances at the weekend.
Although there is very little at stake for Bolton, whose name was never mentioned alongside the dreaded word ‘relegation’, the Trotters won’t want to end a satisfactory campaign which, had they qualified for the final of the FA Cup – losing 5-0 in the semi-final to Stoke – would have been a season to remember, on a sour note. Another reverse on Saturday and it’ll be their fourth on the spin, following in the wake of defeats to Fulham (3-0), Blackburn (1-0) and Sunderland (1-2).
Bolton manager Owen Coyle would appear to have a job on his hands, though. Not since the middle of November have the Trotters took maximum points from an away fixture, excluding the FA Cup, losing a jaw-dropping ten of their last eleven road encounters. During which, just four goals were scored.
It is somewhat bizarre that Blackpool have registered fewer points at home than any other team (17), as I’ve watched them throughout the season at Bloomfield Road and they invariably create a wealth of goalscoring opportunities. The support they receive from the locals is also fantastic. The Seasiders really are an enigma at home.
But it’s a must-win game for the Tangerines, as have pretty much their preceding nine league fixtures, yet they only took a grand total of four points from a possible 27. A point off safety they may be but with just two games to go and a trip to Manchester United on the final day, not only is time against them but so is their schedule. Nobody expects them to take anything from next week’s scurvy to Old Trafford, so it’s all or nothing this weekend at home to Bolton. The one piece of solace is that Ian Holloway couldn’t of wished for a more generous final fixture at Bloomfield Road, against the Premier League’s poorest travellers for the past six months.
I’d fancy most teams chances against Bolton at home, but Blackpool are a different kettle of fish. Their all-out attacking ways have been found out in the second part of the term. Opposing managers have wised up, defenders know exactly what to expect, as do attackers who know full well that they’ll have acres of space to run into up against the leakiest defence in the top-flight in Blackpool (71), who concede two-goals-per-game on average.
Their record on the road is unquestionably abysmal but Bolton will arrive in Blackpool under no strain or pressure whatsoever and should be able to play their football with an element of freedom. While this hasn’t paid dividends in recent games, they should fare better on Saturday against an opponent who will be riddled with nerves, who can’t defend and have even stopped scoring – and what are Blackpool without their goalscoring prowess? To put it bluntly, relegation fodder.
LAY Blackpool @ 2.18 Betfair
Bolton Wanderers to WIN @ 3.40 Bet365
- With Manchester United at Old Trafford to come on the final day, Blackpool - 18th and one point off safety – can ill-afford to drop a single point from this weekend’s fixture.
- Blackpool are without a win in nine and have won only one of their last ten matches at Bloomfield Road.
- Bolton have lost ten and won none of their last eleven away league games, scoring just four goals in that dismal sequence.
- The Trotters would go some way to cementing a top-ten finish with victory at Bloomfield Road, with Bolton currently 9th on 46-points.
April 9th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Bolton V West Ham
Date & Kick-Off: Saturday, 9 April 2011 – 15:00 (GMT)
Competition: Barclay’s Premier League
Most teams have a nemesis, someone they struggle to overcome time and time again. The fact Bolton have bossed virtually every Premiership encounter with West Ham shouldn’t be all that shocking considering, as everyone tends to have a whale of a time against those suspect, hapless Hammers.
Witty comments aside, Bolton’s record against West Ham is actually very impressive. Not only have they won the previous seven meetings in all competitions, home and away, they’ve also won the last seven consecutive league meetings at The Reebok – a run which stretches right back to 1995.
Bolton also played West Ham twice at home last season, once in the league and another in the Carling Cup. The Trotters won both encounters 3-1. Yet more formidable, some might even say gruesome statistics for all you Hammer-lovers out there. Oh, and the clash at Upton Park earlier in this season also went Bolton’s way, fittingly by another 3-1.
However, this bunch of East Londoners, not that there is too many around in the first-team squad at this precise moment, should defy the history and actually contest this fixture on Saturday. Put up more stern resistance than any previous West Ham outfit has. That despite Avram Grant’s absence on the touchline, with the Israeli serving a one-game touchline ban at The Reebok.
The Hammers are enjoying a decent run of form, or at least were. A 4-2 home defeat at the hands of league leaders Manchester United last weekend ended West Ham’s four-match unbeaten run. But not only did it halt an encouraging sequence, the manner in which Grant’s men were beaten will have left a bitter taste in the mouths of all the players, who at one stage had worked so hard to pull two-goals clear only to capitulate in the second period.
Should last week’s gut-wrenching loss not have too big an impact on the morale and confidence of the players, West Ham should be in with a chance of snatching some points on Saturday, from a fixture which has brought them nothing but heartache, misery and a heap load of embarrassment over the years. As before the 4-2 reverse to United a week previous, West Ham had lost just two of eight in the league and were scoring goals for fun.
Their two goals against United took their tally for their last five games to 11, and although they did draw a blank in their most recent away assignment, it was a positive blank, if there ever is such a thing, in a 0-0 draw away at Tottenham. Before that, West Ham had scored two at Everton in a 2-2 draw, three at Blackpool in a 3-1 triumph and another three at West Brom, in a 3-3 draw which saw those usually spiritless Hammers come from 3-0 down to register the most unlikely of point.
It has taken a while, but there is finally some character in this West Ham team. We only hope the defeat last Saturday to the best team in the Premier League, according to the league table, hasn’t knocked the stuffing out of them, as before that rather unfortunate loss they were beginning to gather some eye-catching momentum.
We aren’t at all surprised that Bolton are the favourites. After all, their record against West Ham is overwhelming. I’m sure the fact Owen Coyle’s men are chasing their fourth-straight home win also came into the equation. Even so, despite all the fancy statistics which would make a punt on the home side seem a bank-job, we believe there’s value in those travelling Hammers in a match they desperately need something from if they’re to leap straight back out of the relegation frying pan.
Bolton, meanwhile, well there season is pretty much over, with relegation from the top-flight virtually impossible now, while Europe has also passed them by. So the hungrier team should be the visitors. We shall see if that’s the case.
Betting Tip: LAY of Bolton @ 2.32 Betfair (I’m no good at conversions, but that works out at around a 5/6 punt – me thinks!)
Draw @ 3.40 totesport
Both Teams to Score @ 1.75 VictorChandler
Mark Noble to Score @ 7.00 WilliamHill
West Ham’s Mark Noble rarely misses from the spot, as he displayed at Upton Park last week when dispatching two from 12-yards against United. Bolton are missing the player who breaks most opposing attacks down in American midfielder Stuart Holden, so West Ham should have more success in getting the ball forward into the Bolton third in the combative midfielder’s absence, and that could lead to a possible spot-kick at some stage, especially with flat-footed David Wheater in the heart of the Bolton defence.
April 1st, 2011 / Armchair Punter - Category:
Premier League Tips
BIRMINGHAM CITY v BOLTON WANDERERS
Saturday 2nd April 2011 – Kickoff 3pm
Premier league action resumes this weekend following the break to accommodate the European qualifying group matches, and a return to St Andrews where the hosts Birmingham City take on a Bolton side that recently dumped them out of the FA Cup, once again renewing rivalries but the prize on offer today will be three valuable points.
Ask any Blues fan and they’ll gladly swap progressing further in the FA Cup for a vital three points at home, particularly when you have to travel to the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham in the run-in.
The break has done Birmingham a few favours as it has allowed numerous squad members to recover from injuries such as Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner and Barry Ferguson. Manager McLeish has also hinted that Blues will come out to attack and are really fired up and looking forward to this fixture, and they know that they need to make home advantage count more than ever right now.
Blues’ home record stands at an unremarkable 4-7-4 14/18, which is a far cry from where they were this time last season. But such is the competitiveness of the Premiership, particularly this season, where all three points could propel them up as high as 13th or 14th spot. Blues will also be looking to avenge their recent cup defeat to the Trotters when they lost 2-3.
Only 5 out of their 15 home matches so far have resulted in over 2.5 goals, and indeed all the stats are against goals in today’s fixture, but you also have to bear in mind the motivation and the need to take all three points now. Gardner & Zigic (5 goals apiece) lead the scoring, but David Bentley can also conjure something from nothing, while Seb Larsson has provided 5 assists.
Visitors Bolton will also be gunning for the three points today as they prepare their final assault for a European place. Without an away win now for eight matches, they’ll need to make a vast improvement on their away form if they are to have any chance of toppling Tottenham’s grip into the Europa league. Ironically, their opponents today who are battling against relegation have already booked their European spot.
Their away form stands at a strange reversal of their home form 2-5-8 14/22, and this will also give the hosts some hope. However, Elmander (9 goals) and Kevin Davies (7 goals), who also seems to score against Birmingham, are very dangerous, along with Daniel Sturridge and winger Martin Petrov.
The Verdict: It’s a brave man to back over 2.5 goals whenever Birmingham are at home, but I think it’s do or die for Blues now and they have to win their remaining home matches to have any chance of staying up – hence the reason why I think there will be goals in this one. Bolton are also more than capable of creating and scoring as we saw in their cup match. An entertaining 2-2 draw could be on the cards.
Main Pick: Over 2.5
@ a tempting 2.10 courtesy of bet365
March 19th, 2011 / Matt - Category:
Premier League Tips
Date & Kick-Off: Saturday, March 19 – 15:00 (GMT)
It is no secret that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is facing up to a defensive crisis ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Bolton. The 69-year-old is also coming to terms, slowly but surely, with a five-match touchline ban which will begin with immediate effect, starting with Saturday’s game with the Trotters at Old Trafford.
Manchester United will be without defenders Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, John O’Shea, Rafael and even captain Nemanja Vidic meaning a make-shift defence, one which could look a little something like this: RB Hargreaves CB Smalling CB Brown LB Evra, must contend with one of the Premier League’s more dynamic forward-lines at the weekend.
Kevin Davies is a handful for any defence, a player with vast amounts of top-flight experience who isn’t afraid to put himself about or stick his body in where it might get hurt.
Johan Elmander is enjoying his best ever return since completing his big-money move from Toulouse back in 2008, having scored 9 times in the league this season and is someone who from seemingly out of nowhere has found some confidence.
And then we have the raw pace, athleticism and powerful figure of Daniel Sturridge, who has had a big impact since joining Owen Coyle’s squad on-loan from Chelsea in January until the end of the season.
When you’re lacking numbers at the back, Bolton are one team you do not want to come up against, as each of their forwards offers you something different and unique to have to defend against. If it isn’t Davies getting in your face, it’s Sturridge causing you problems with his lightening quick pace or Elmander making those smart runs in from the right.
I haven’t been at all convinced by the Chris Smalling and Wes Brown centre-back partnership, and I’m not the only one. As individuals they have defended well, but they have no idea where or what the other is up to and without that natural link-up, problems are always going to arise. So who better to capitalise on such frailties than a combative Bolton side who can play some slick, quick, penetrating football at times.
The good news for United fans is that Wayne Rooney is fit although is still some way off his best form, while Javier Hernandez simply cannot stop scoring of late and should keep Dimitar Berbatov on the bench.
The Red Devils also safely saw off Marseille in midweek to book a last-eight meeting with Chelsea, but Sir Alex’s men were nowhere near convincing against the French champions, who are of a similar ilk to Bolton in that they are a physical, muscular outfit and L’OM sprung open the United defence on several occasions. Bolton could quite easily do the same should their wide-outlets find pockets of space, with Martin Petrov and South Korean Lee Chung-Yong key men to Bolton’s cause as these two can be a real handful on their day and need to ensure the service through to the forwards is regular and crisp.
Providing they aren’t overawed by their intimidating surroundings, and I have no reason to believe they well; in fact, I reckon they’ll thrive off the situation, well aware that United have several chinks in their armour. An even bigger positive is that nobody really expects them to take anything from the fixture, so the Trotters can play with an element of freedom in a match where they have nothing to lose but plenty to gain.
Of course, we mustn’t forget to enclose the small print, which is that Bolton have lost six of their last seven away matches in the league. So small stakes on the lay of United but I’m very confident that Bolton will enjoy some success in front of goal in a fixture where the hosts should naturally be good for at least one.
Betting Tip: Both Teams to Score @ 1.85 VictorChandler
LAY Manchester United @ 1.42 Betfair
Bolton to Score 2 or More Goals @ 4.20 PaddyPower
Kevin Davies to Score @ 5.00 SkyBet