Saturday, March 20, 2010

Everton vs. Bolton

A big game for these two clubs. If Everton win, they will probably leapfrog Birmingham and put themselves within striking distance of Aston Villa and a Europa League spot. And if Bolton lose, they could be dragged back into the relegation struggle. On the other hand, if Bolton win, they pass Blackburn and move within striking distance of Fulham and the top half of the table, while also effectively guaranteeing a 10th consecutive season of top flight football at the Reebok Stadium.

Landon Donovan has returned to Los Angeles, and though the Toffees will miss him, he hasn't started the past few matches, and it is the recently fit combination of Mikel Arteta and Yakubu that Bolton need to watch out for.

Unfortunately, Owen Coyle has bit of a dilemma in his selection of a starting back line. Gretar Steinsson and Paul Robinson seem to have established themselves as Coyle's fullbacks of choice, and Zat Knight will certainly play from the start, but who will partner him.

Andy O'Brien played reasonably well in Bolton's 4-0 triumph last weekend, and Coyle seems to prefer keeping a winning side intact. But Sam Ricketts returns from a suspension, and he played well in several games at centre-back before his red card in the disastrous Sunderland match. Let's not forget Gary Cahill, who had been Bolton's best player this season before a blood clot was thought to have ruled him out for the season. Wanderers claim the problem is solved, and the young England hopeful is on contention for a spot in the team at Goodison Park, but I can't imagine he would go straight back into the starting XI after two months of very limited physical activity.

If I am honest, it is hard to see Bolton getting anything out of this match, and we can only hope to keep it close as not to damage our goal differential too much. Maybe, maybe, a draw is a possibility, but I won't hold my breath.

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