Friday, December 31, 2010

Chelsea - 1 Bolton - 0

Chelsea had a spell of about five minutes in the second half of this match where they really looked a threat. They scored their goal, had an effort cleared off the line, and forced a good save out of Jussi Jaaskelainen.  Other than that, they looked a lot like Arsenal at their absolute worst.  Loads of possession, but no cutting edge, no chances created, no evidence of even the desire to score a goal.

Bolton on the other hand, looked fairly good, especially during the first half.  One of the TV analysts even argued that Wanderers had created the better chances.  A lot of this was down to Fabrice Muamba and Stuart Holden (Pictured, Below).  Chelsea's three-man midfield of Michael Essien, Ramires, and Frank Lampard is probably worth £60 million, and they were dominated by the two central men in the Bolton midfield.

Muamba and Holden covered more ground than the Chelsea three, snuffed out any threats they made, and created some chances at the other end.  Just an epic, box-to-box performance, from two players under 25 who cost a combined £5 million.  Both have recently signed contract extensions, and neither has shown any desire to leave Bolton.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bolton Wingers

At the start of the season many analysts thought that the biggest strength of this Wanderers team would be its wingers, Lee Chung-yong and Martin Petrov.  That has not quite come to pass.  But the wing play has been important.  Matt Taylor scored today, and he will be very important over the next several weeks, as Lee will be playing for South Korea in the Asian Confederation's championship.

Petrov has had an up-and-down season, and there is no guarantee that he will start against Chelsea on Wednesday.  It may be time for young Rodrigo Moreno to get his chance.

No matter who comes into the starting XI for Lee, they will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility, as the Korean winger has become an integral part of Bolton's attack.

Owen Coyle has some big decisions to make.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bolton Wanderers v West Bromwich Albion (or That Damn Peter Odemwingie)

The Nigerian striker will be fit again to play Bolton on Boxing Day.  He is pivotal to what West Brom do, and will make things difficult for the Wanderers.  Not only does he score (6 goals in 11 matches), but his presence and intelligent movement creates space as well as opportunity for the Baggies' midfielders.

If I am honest, Odemwingie (pictured, right) is exactly the type of player Bolton tend to struggle against.  Of course, we have only kept one clean sheet all season, so I think it would be fair to say we struggle against most strikers.

These two clubs played to a draw a couple months ago, in a wide-open attacking match that was one of the finest spectacles of this season.  West Brom will have had two weeks to prepare for this match because of weather-related postponements, while Bolton are coming off an away loss in one of only three matches played last weekend.  Whether this provides an edge to either side on Sunday I am not sure, but going into a run of four matches in eleven days, we may see some squad rotation on both sides.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


There is no doubting the talent of this Sunderland squad, and they have shown that talent, especially at home, against several clubs in the top half of the table.  They looked very good while beating Bolton on Saturday, yet it was only 1-0, and the Trotters had several chances late that could have very easily lead to an equalizer.  To make my point, this is what I wrote about Sunderland in my season preview;

This Sunderland squad is actually pretty close to Steve Bruce's Wigan and Birmingham squads. He always puts a talented group of players together, they always finish pretty comfortably mid-table, analysts always expect them to push on into the top half, and they never do. 11th sounds about right for this club.

And I am afraid that about sums it up.  They are flying high now, but Steve Bruce teams are just a tease, not the real deal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Bolton Midfield

Fabrice Muamba was dropped to the bench today in favor of Stuart Holden and Mark Davies in Bolton's central midfield.  Mark Davies was sent off for 2 yellow cards.  Muamba and Holden scored Bolton's goals.

Holden just turned 25, Mumba and Davies are both 22, and all three have exhibited substantial improvement as the season has progressed.  Going into the season, it was thought by many (including me) that Bolton's strength would be their wingers.  Yet Lee Chung-yong and Martin Petrov have both displayed uneven form through the first 16 matches in the premier league.  The spine of the team (Strikers Kevin Davies and Johann Elmander, Holden, M. Davies, and Muamba, central defenders Zat Knight and Gary Cahill, keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen) has been Bolton's strength this season.

Today's performance against Blackburn was good overall, not great, but the important thing, three points, was attained, and the Wanderers still find themselves riding high, sixth in the table for another week.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Martin Petrov

It's a big match for the Bulgarian winger against his former club.  He left under a black cloud, and he was not shy about criticizing the weatherman.  Petrov had some problems with injuries while at Eastlands, but he was always impressive when he was able to get on the pitch.  I am sure he is dying to prove a point this Saturday, but it is up to Owen Coyle to decide how Petrov can do so most effectively for the team.

Petrov generally doesn't play 90 minutes.  He has only completed one game in nine starts for Bolton this season.  To be fair he has competed all three that he has started for Bulgaria, so he is certainly fit enough to play the whole match if need be.  Coyle has to make the decision on how to best use Petrov's energy and emotion.  Will he start him, hoping that he can create mayhem straight on from kickoff, or will he save him for the 60th minute, an impact sub in the last half hour of what promises to be a close, hard-fought match.