Owen Coyle

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Bolton V Wolves – Pick 2 – 31 December 2011

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)

Blackpool V Bolton – TIP: LAY BLACKPOOL – Saturday, 14 May 2011

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.

Betting Selection(s):

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.


Bolton Wanderers V Arsenal – TIP: ARSENAL TO WIN – Sunday, 24 April 2011

Premier League Tips


Bolton Wanderers V Arsenal

Date & Kick-Off: Sunday, 24 April 2011 – 16:00 (GMT)
Competition: Barclay's Premier League

After drawing their fifth league game in six on Wednesday, Arsenal, according to almost every journalist, most of the country and even Sir Alex Ferguson, are no longer Man Utd's main rivals for the title, and that Chelsea, who are in scintillating form and finishing like a steam train, pose the biggest threat to long-time leaders and overwhelmingly strong favourites for the title United. This all despite the fact that Arsenal trail Sir Alex's men by the same deficit as Chelsea. Arsene Wenger is bemused, but he's about the only one.

Arsenal trail Manchester United by six-points courtesy of Wednesday's pulsating 3-3 draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the third north London derby in a row where Arsenal failed to register maximum points, with the latter actually a speciality of theirs in recent weeks. As a result, the Gunners slipped one place to third, but only because their goal difference is slightly inferior to that of Chelsea. However, whining Wenger cannot understand how all of a sudden his team have been ruled out of contention altogether while Chelsea, who trail United by that same troublesome margin, have become every neutrals', and those who simply despise United, last hope. And he claimed he was sound with mathematics, who's he kidding?

I suppose you could describe this race to become United's play toy as the tortoise and the hare, with Chelsea the blistering hare moving at a fair rate of knots while Arsenal are trudging along at their own pace, which could best be described as pedestrian. Whereas Chelsea have won six of their last seven league games, Arsenal have won a pitiful two in that time and their midweek draw with Spurs – squandering two separate leads, including a commanding 3-1 advantage – was their fifth in six.

Plus, you don't see the Chelsea dressing room capitulating... Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas infuriated his manager when claiming in an interview with a Spanish newspaper that one - Arsenal lacked maturity, and two – Wenger would have been sacked had he been manager of a club of a similar stature to that of the Gunners. If that doesn't touch a certain Frenchman's nerve then I don't know what will, and is that not another infamous act of resignation from an Arsenal skipper? The similarities between Fab's and William Gallas' throwing in the towel excursions, with the France centre-back now turned Spurs flop staging a one-man sit-in protest at St Andrews a couple of seasons ago, are uncanny. And you know what the best bit is? Gallas was soon out the door not long after.

Arsenal know all too well that another slip-up this weekend wouldn't be costly but catastrophic, as it would end their rapidly fading hopes of becoming the 2010/2011 Barclay's Premier League champions on the spot. So it's just as well they travel to a happy hunting ground to face a dejected Bolton outfit still licking their wounds following last Sunday's FA Cup semi-final humbling at the hands of Stoke.

The Reebok houses one of this season's biggest surprises in Owen Coyle's Bolton, who did tremendously well just in getting to the semi-final of the most prestigious cup in the world only to forget to turn up at Wembley. A performance riddled in mistakes and nerves was capitalised on by a ruthless Stoke, who smashed five goals past a demoralised Trotters in a 5-0 rout. Now Bolton's season is effectively over and I'm sure everyone associated with the club, including their manager, who has done an out of this world job at the helm may I add, will now look forward to the end of the season and a much-needed summer vacation. One thing they certainly didn't need, then, was title-chasing Arsenal paying them a visit.

On their three previous visits to Bolton, Arsenal have come away with maximum points. But rarely do they have it easy. That could change should Bolton's pride and confidence still be on the floor, which is where centre-half David Wheater spends virtually every minute of every game, flat on his backside and unaware as to who this time has just tied him up in knots.

Chelsea and Liverpool are the only two teams to have won at The Reebok this season, with Bolton troubling the likes of Everton and Tottenham, whom they beat 2-0 and 4-2 respectively, and even held Manchester United to a 2-2 draw in a match they would have won had it not been for a late Michael Owen equaliser – annoyingly for Owen Coyle, that was the United striker's only goal of the season thus far. However, as impressive as all this is, I duly expect Arsenal to become victor number 3.

Despite question marks over their maturity and winning mentality, Arsenal still find themselves in with a sniff. They are also in last-chance saloon meaning they should, and I really should emphasis the SHOULD, come out all-guns-blazing at The Reebok. And if they do throw the kitchen sink early on at a Bolton defence which has kept three clean sheets in its last four at home but shipped a pride-bashing five at Wembley last time out, hopefully the Gunners should have enough goals in the bag to see them through to the end.

Betting Tip: Arsenal to WIN – 1.80 PaddyPower

Value Bet: Robin Van Persie First Goalscorer – 5.00 BetFred


Stat Attack:

Bolton have taken the lead within the opening 15 minutes but gone on to lose the match in six of the previous ten meetings with Arsenal.

A 4-0 reverse to Chelsea is Bolton's one and only home defeat since 31 October, losing just one of their last eleven Premier League matches at The Reebok.

Robin Van Persie is the hottest striker in the Premier League right now having notched up 14 goals in his last 12 appearances, and has scored in each of Arsenal's last six away Premier League games.


Manchester United V Bolton – Tip Both Teams to Score – 19 March 2011

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

Value Bets:

LAY Manchester United @ 1.42 Betfair
Bolton to Score 2 or More Goals @ 4.20 PaddyPower
Kevin Davies to Score @ 5.00 SkyBet