Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manchester City

Bolton will be visiting Eastlands this weekend, and it will be an interesting clash of styles between the Wanderers and the Citizens.  Bolton have shown themselves to be an attacking, free-flowing offensive club this season.  Man City, on the other hand, have been a very defensive-minded group, a tactical philosophy which has generated a lot of criticism for manager Roberto Mancini.

Just park in front of the goal...
City have 26 points from 15 matches, Bolton have 23, but they have gained their points in very different manners.  Bolton have outscored their opponents, a leaky defense allowing 22 goals, yet scoring for themselves 28 times, fourth most in the league, and only one goal behind mighty Chelsea.  Manchester City have only scored 20 goals, middle of the pack, but they have conceded a miserly 12 goals, 2 more than Chelsea, but 4 less than anyone else.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Blackpool currently sit twelfth in the league table, with a relatively impressive 18 points from 14 matches.  They have been a scoring threat, with 21 goals, but they have conceded 27, the most in the league.  It has been a wild ride so far though.  Way back on August 4th, I wrote this about the Seasiders;

There will be a draw against a big team, maybe even a home win against a top 4 side, an inspiring performance away from home in London or Manchester, and a lot of fun afternoons that the supporters should make sure they enjoy, because this is a one season adventure.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Bolton Wanderers are showing themselves a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League.  The dismantling of Newcastle on Saturday was just phenomenal to watch.  So what has changed in the past month or so to move Owen Coyle's men up the table.

Most notable change, consistency throughout the match.  Early on in the season, Bolton would look good in the first half, but terrible in the second, or vice versa.  Sometimes it was even more severe, a dominating 15 minute spell followed by a mistake-filled 20 minutes.  Things slowly improved, but poor spells were still leading to goals, and often these goals left us with draws instead of wins.

In the case of the Liverpool match, we lost after being the better team for about 85 minutes of the 90.  I think that is when things changed.  We were held without a goal for only the third time this season.  That is when the identity of this team became clear.  We have to be a dynamic, attacking team.  Instead of trying to hold our opponents scoreless, we need to score more than them.  Spurs came to town, we steamrolled them 4-2, and haven't looked back.

But enough analysis, for the next few days, I just want to enjoy it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Starting XI v Wolves

Johann Elmander and Matt Taylor have both been under the weather this week, yet have made it onto the team sheet.  I am not a big fan of this.

If a player is trying to recover from an ankle sprain or something like that, OK, a trainer can put him through a fitness test and say he is able to play.  But a stomach bug or cold just saps stamina.  Starting two players who will probably have to be subbed, especially as Taylor and Elmander both run miles, really handcuffs Owen Coyle's ability to change things around during the match.

Most important, we have ready-made replacements for both these players.  Martin Petrov is fit again and can easily slot back in on the left side.  Ivan Klasnic has scored a couple goals recently and can certainly come in for Elmander, although to be fair, he will probably have to be taken off as well.  The wild card in all this is Rodrigo Moreno.  I would have loved to have seen the electric young Spaniard playing up top alongside Kevin Davies.  Finally, someone with pace to run onto all the flicks from Davies winning headers.

At the very least, I would like to see Moreno come on at half time, no matter the score.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The League Table

I have a rule about the league table.  I don't look at it until after my birthday (November 9).  Given that, after yesterday's draw between Bolton and Everton at Goodison Park (heartbreaking to give up such a late equalizer, but a draw at either side of Stanley Park is a good result) I went to Sky Sports website and took a look.

I was right about a few things.  I thought Wolves would be relegation fodder and they are.  Some of the clubs I thought would be establishing themselves mid-table are struggling (such as Wigan and West Ham), but I still think they have time to pull out of it.  I appear to have been dead wrong about Newcastle, but let's just wait and see about that.

As for my beloved Bolton Wanderers, they find themselves in a lofty position not seen since the days of Sam Allardyce.  Sixth in the table with 16 points from 12 matches and a positive goal differential.  They are unlikely to remain there, I don't have any delusions of grandeur, and the defense needs to tighten up or a slide down the table could come quickly, but it looks as though a top half finish is not out of the question.  Considering the mess Gary Megson left behind, and recent financial news out of the Reebok, a top half finish would be a stunning achievement for Owen Coyle this season.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Owen Hargreaves

I always liked Owen Hargreaves.  He was a very good, very under-rated player.  He could play several positions, and play them well.  He was good on the ball and could attack, he was also a great tackler and could defend.  He scored goals and created goals for other players.  He played at right back for England in the 2006 World Cup and was probably their best player.

All that aside, Hargreaves has played 8 minutes of top flight football in the past three seasons.  To see him limp off the field after five minutes on Saturday was, more than anything else, sad.  Let's face it, it was a stupid move by Alex Ferguson to start Hargreaves after being out for so long.  No one was surprised at the result.  And you have to think there is a very good chance that this is it for Hargreaves.

If he is done it has been a great career.  He has won just about everything there is to win in club football, and he has always been a selfless player willing to do what is best for the team.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tom Huddlestone

There is no questioning this players raw physical abilities, and he has been touted as the next big thing, especially by Spurs fans, for a while now.  He is still only 23 (24 next month), but I am beginning to wonder if it will happen for him.  I think he is as well, because more signs of frustration have been finding their way into his game.

The latest came yesterday, when he maliciously, and very late, chose to stamp on Johann Elmander's crotch as Elmander was laying prostrate and nowhere near the ball.  It was a disgraceful act (I don't see how you can even call it a challenge) and if the referee had seen it he would have been sent off.  But because the referee didn't see it, the Football Association will have jurisdiction.  I can't see anything less than a three match ban, and Huddlestone might deserve more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gareth who???

Bolton Wanderers picked the perfect time to make a statement to the rest of the league.  On ESPN for the lunch time kickoff in England (Breakfast in the US), with everybody watching (including Fabio Capello), Owen Coyle's men looked magnificent.

Spurs defenders did not know what to do with Kevin Davies, who was dominant in scoring two goals while creating a third, but I want to focus on another player, Matt Taylor (pictured, right).

Taylor was making only his second start of the season in the league, and he looked very similar to what we saw from him last season.  No one is ever going to mistake him for a defensive stalwart, but he covers a lot of ground on the left side, and he did a good job tracking back to defend because, let's face it, Paul Robinson needs all the help he can get.