Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arsenal v Barcelona

Wow!!!!! We get to watch 90 more minutes of that? Are you kidding me? That is what sports are all about. I love this game!

Arsenal v Barcelona update

Injuries are really going to have an effect on the first leg of this tie. Andres Iniesta, Barcelona's extremely influential Spanish midfielder/forward, is out of today's match, and probably a doubt for the return leg next week. This is important because it is Iniesta who links play between the midfield and the strikers. Argentinians often wonder why Lionel Messi looks so much more impressive for Barcelona than he does when playing for his country, and I think the answer is he has Iniesta to get him the ball for his club.

Several other Barcelona players are either questionable or just returning from injury, including Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique.

Arsenal always seems to have an injury crisis, and today is no different. Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri, who tore Porto apart in Arsenal's last Champions League encounter, are both expected to be available despite slight injuries. Cesc Fabregas is very questionable though. He was injured against Birmingham at the weekend. I like Arsene Wenger, but just as with Robben and Bayern Munich, I have to ask why Fabregas was not rested at the weekend with such a critical match this week.

Arsenal's most important injury doubt may be William Gallas, who was expected to miss the quarterfinal entirely, but has surprised everyone by returning to training this week. He is in the squad tonight, but no one knows if he will feature in the match. Thomas Vermaelen will anchor the back line for Wenger, but without Gallas he doesn't really appear to have a worthy partner.

I predicted that Arsenal would win in London, and I am sticking with that prediction.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If's and buts...

I can't help but think how different today's match between Bayern Munich and Manchester United would have been if Arjen Robben had played. Some might think that irrelevant since Bayern won by 2 goals to 1, and probably could not have asked for a better result, but hear me out.

Because Robben was unable to play, Hamit Altintop started on the right wing for the Germans. Save for one tricky run, which ended in a relatively tame shot straight at Edwin van der Sar, Altintop was terrible. He often gave the ball away, when he did get into a good position his crossing was poor, and he didn't really provide any help defensively.

Now, in some cases, nothing can be done about this sort of thing. Players get injured, it's part of the game. But in this case, I think the Bayern Munich brain-trust is to blame. I won't single out Louis van Gaal because Bayern Munich, much like Real Madrid, don't really give their manager a whole lot of autonomy. All of the "directors" sitting in the stands have a great deal of say over what happens on the pitch. Given that, the questions I would have to ask them is, "Why the hell was Robben playing against Stutgart over the weekend?! With a Champions League quarterfinal 3 days later?!" It just makes no sense.

Manchester United were thoroughly outplayed though, in all honesty they were lucky to only lose 2-1. But Rooney got the away goal, as I predicted he would, and Bayern couldn't get another goal to put the tie away. In fact, they barely got the win, scoring late in injury time when Patrice Evra was careless with the ball in his own box.

I have to believe that Robben, with his finishing ability and the form he is in, could have gotten another goal for the Bavarians, even if he had only come off the bench. And that makes me think, despite their victory, Bayern Munich missed an opportunity to really put themselves in the driver's seat. Manchester United will make them pay, and I suspect the English club will win quite handily at Old Trafford next week. Although I do have to add one caveat. Wayne Rooney limped off the field at the end of the match with what looked like an ankle injury. Alex Ferguson played it down as not serious, but if it does turn out to be serious, that makes things far more difficult for United, and gives Bayern a much better chance of advancing.

Bayern Munich v Manchester United - Update

Arjen Robben looks unlikely to play in the first leg of this tie at The Allianz Arena in Munich. This is a huge blow for the Germans, as Robben has been their best player, and one of the best players in Europe, this season. If Robben doesn't play against Manchester United, Bayern has about a 1% chance of advancing.

As for the English club, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand both sat out the win against Bolton Wanderers, but are expected to start today. As I mentioned earlier, I don't think the Bayern defenders will capitulate in the way AC Milan did a few weeks ago, but that doesn't mean they will be able to stop Rooney either. His form is so good that it will almost be a surprise if he doesn't score an away goal.

When it was first announced, this one looked like an intriguing match-up, but given the injury concerns and Munich's loss of form, it could be an easy one for Manchester United.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jlloyd Samuel

Let me start by saying I think Jlloyd Samuel is a good left-back. He is not outstanding, but he is competent, and that is often all we can ask for at a smaller club like Bolton Wanderers. Well, that and a pork pie vendor inside the ground. For most of the season I have actually felt that he was our best option at LB, but Gary Megson preferred to play Paul Robinson (who was terrible for the first few months of the season, and who may in fact be the worst professional footballer I have ever seen).

When Megson was removed and Coyle came in it looked like Samuel might get a chance to re-establish himself, but Coyle moved Sam Ricketts to LB, and he put in some good performances. The Gary Cahill got a blood clot in his arm, Ricketts moved into the middle, and again it looked as if Samuel would finally get his chance. But no, Coyle went back to Paul Robinson, who performed better than he had under Megson, but still seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen in my opinion.

So, when Robinson picked up an injury last week and Coyle moved Samuel into the starting LB spot, I was pleased. Honestly, to give a player his first start in 3 months against Manchester United is a bit unfair, but Samuel (Really, the whole team) played well in the first half. Until a ball came in from the left in the 40th minute. It got past Darren Fletcher, who had made a good run into the box and Samuel, running towards his own goal, tried to put it behind for a corner. Unfortunately, instead of putting it behind on his side of the goal, he tried to play the ball out across the face of goal. He was a bit off, and passed it beautifully into the bottom corner for an Own Goal.

Was it a lack of match sharpness that caused this error? I think so. Last season, Samuel started all 38 league matches and was as steady as they come. He has not shown a previous penchant for putting the ball in his own net. I just hope Owen Coyle does not relegate Samuel to the subs bench for the remainder of the season. I still think he is a better choice than Paul Robinson at left-back, and Bolton will need all players fit and ready to contribute in order to ensure another season of top flight football.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Focus on The First Half

The final scoreline against Manchester United was not pretty for Bolton, but it was not entirely unexpected. Truth is, we were over-run in the second half. A team like Bolton can't expect to get anything from the matches against United, and those results will not determine our fate. But you can't pretend the match never happened. So I am choosing to focus on the positive, and the positive is that we played a brilliant first half. If not for an absolutely absurd own-goal, it would have been 0-0 at the break. It could have even been 1-0 to Bolton. The Wanderers had the best chances, and a fair bit of possession.

If I were Owen Coyle, I would show the players video of the first half, and focus on that performance. If the team can duplicate that level of play going forward, we should be comfortably above the relegation zone on May 9, which is the only thing that is important at this point.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bolton Back-line

Wayne Rooney will probably be on the bench today for Manchester United, but truth be told, it is often the players like Dimitar Berbatov that give Bolton the most trouble. Rooney is active and physical for 90 minutes, so the defenders are focused on him for 90 minutes. Berbatov on the other hand, often drifts in and out of a match, and is not a very physical player overall. But he is supremely talented, and is always only 1 deft touch away from creating a chance for himself or a teammate.

There is also some upheaval in the Bolton defense. Right-back Gretar Steinsson is suspended. Sam Ricketts, who can play anywhere along the back 4, is returning from suspension. Central defender Gary Cahill is returning from 2 months out because of a blood clot problem. And left-back Paul Robinson is nursing an injury, although he is likely to be available.

If I were to guess, I would say Ricketts will play at right-back, Cahill in the middle with Zat Knight, and Robinson at left-back. Will that group be able to handle the Manchester United attack, I don't know. But hopefully we will make it interesting, and if we can make the title race a bit more interesting, and the relegation race a bit less interesting, then so be it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Champions League Draw - Arsenal v Barcelona

Here it is, the one everybody has been waiting for (The match, not my blog post). The two best passing teams in the world. The two most attacking sides in Europe. Two sides oozing with talent and quality who seem to bring world class youngsters through their academies just for fun. Just about guarantees it will finish 0-0 and come down to penalty kicks in a shootout.

Seriously, given all of the attacking talent on display, it is safe to say this tie will be decided by defense. The problem for Arsenal here is that a major part of their defense (William Gallas) has a calf injury and is out for the first leg, and probably the whole tie. This leaves Thomas Vermaelen, who has been a rock at the back, along with Sol Campbell, who will struggle to keep up with the likes of Pedro, Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi. Alexandre Song will play the holding midfield role, and he will attempt to shield the back four. THis is especially important because a lot of what Barcelona does in possession starts deep, with Xavi and Iniesta working their way through the midfield to create chances for Messi, Pedro, and Ibrahimovic.

As for the Catalan giants, they have their own defensive frailties. Puyol is well past his prime, and Dani Alves is not exactly known for his defending. A lot will fall on Busquets, who has been patrolling central midfield recently, as the manager does not appear to be seeing eye-to-eye with Yaya Toure. The movement of Arshavin and Nasri, coupled with the passing of Fabregas, will give Barca's back-line a lot to deal with. I would like to think we are in for a couple of rollicking 4-3 games, resulting in a wild 30 minutes of extra time at the Camp Nou, but that is unlikely.

I am going against the grain a little bit here, as I think Arsenal will nick it. They will take a lead to Spain, and score an away goal that allows them to progress. In fact I am going to go ahead and make a bold prediction. Arsenal will not only win this tie, they will get to the final, and lift the trophy in Madrid in May.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Champions League Draw - Bayern Munich v Manchester United

I find the talk about 1999 to be largely self-serving on the part of the English and utterly irrelevant to the match itself. Of the 36 players in the squads that day, 3 still play for Manchester United, plus 1 who was suspended, and none still play for Bayern Munich. It just has no bearing on this game.

Bayern are one of the few club teams left in Europe who play 2 true wingers, in Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. And both are very good. Robben, in fact, has been one of the best player sin Europe for the past 6 months. He will get the Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher treatment whenever he ventures forward. I still think Bayern will manage goals in both legs. The real questions is, can Manchester United score more goals than they allow. There is no central defender from the German side that can "handle" Wayne Rooney, so to speak, but he will not have the uncontested free reign he had against AC Milan.

I am going to go out on a limb here and make a detailed prediction. I think Bayern Munich win 2-1 in Germany, and Manchester United win 3-1 in England, with the winning goal coming late on in the 30 minutes of extra time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Champions League Draw - Lyon v Bordeaux

There will be a French team in the semi-finals, this much we know. And whether that club plays Bayern Munich or Manchester United, be prepared for WWII jokes aplenty as well as ironically worn berets and striped black and white shirts.

The first leg will be in Lyon, just as it was when they played Real Madrid. Bordeaux won't underestimate Lyon in the way Madrid did though. Both sides are relatively attack-minded and strong through the middle of the pitch. Some might give Lyon a slight edge as they have been to this stage of the Champions League relatively recently, but most of the those players have long since left the club.

Gourcuff runs things from the middle for Bordeaux, and if Lyon can shut him down, they will shut down Bordeaux. I like Chamakh, I think he is a good striker, but he is not the type to create too much for himself, he will be dependent on service from the midfield. I favor Lyon in this match-up. They shut down Kaka over two legs, and he does a lot of the same things Gourcuff does.

Another interesting thing in this tie will be what type of formation Lyon play. They have a lot of attacking talent, and could certainly play with two, or even three up top if they want to. That is unlikely though. I feel like these matches will show us a lot of possession in the opponents half for both clubs, but few good chances created. I think Lyon will win the first match at home, although Bordeaux might snatch an away goal. Regardless, I think Lyon will hold on in Bordeaux and advance to the semi-final.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Champions League Draw - Inter Milan v CSKA Moscow

As I stated in an earlier post, CSKA are no pushovers, and Inter Milan will certainly be challenged in this tie, but it will be absolutely shocking if the Italian side does not go through.

The first leg of the tie is at the San Siro, which I think is an advantage for Inter. Maybe CSKA will be confident after their impressive away win to knock out Sevilla, but Inter are an entirely different kettle of fish. Inter's only concern in the first leg will be preventing an away goal for the Russians. And they have just the manager to do it.

Jose Mourinho is a master at frustrating and eventually beating teams that rely on the counter attack. This describes CSKA, who like to get forward with pace, especially after the other side has committed too many bodies to attack. But Inter won't do that. As Mourinho has shown in the past, when he plays a team that likes to counter attack, his side just doesn't attack. With no attack, there can be no counter attack.

As a spectacle, this match will be dire, 180 minutes (possibly 210 minutes) of sheer tactical boredom. The players themselves will be all but irrelevant and the talk will be only of zonal marking and formations. Rafa Benitez should enjoy it immensely, but even the most ardent of fans risks falling asleep should he or she attempt to sit through both legs.

So, it may be dramatic, it won't be entertaining, but Inter will be through to face the winner of Arsenal v Barcelona, a mouth watering tie that I will break down in (much) more detail at a later date.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gretar Steinsson

He has had a good season for the most part. But the sending off against Everton was just stupid. Even if a forward is on a breakaway, he still has to keep his composure, beat the keeper, and do it before the other defenders get back. Steinsson could have just kept running next to Yakubu and made things difficult before he got a shot off. Instead the Icelandic defender got sent off, and gave Everton a free kick in a great position, which Arteta put in the back of the net.

On the whole Bolton played well, although very defensively, and you could argue they deserved a point based on the first 70 minutes, but once the red card appeared there was only going to be one outcome.

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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals

The teams are set. Who plays who will be determined Friday morning.

CSKA Moscow are probably the team everybody wants to play, the least known and the least respected, a midget amongst the giants of European football. I suspect they will give whomever they face a real scare, but will lack enough to go through in the end.

Bordeux are also not expected to pose any real threat, but I think against the right team (Bayern Munich or Manchester United?) they could pull of a shocker. Gourcuff is capable of unlocking any defense, and their defending in Europe has been superb.

Lyon are also not fancied (The French clubs never are), but they seem to have a certain look about them. It would be ironic if the least talented Lyon side of the last decade advances the furthest in the Champions League. Arsenal or Barcelona would tear them apart, but if I were Bayern or Inter Milan I would not want to face them.

Bayern Munich are an attacking force on paper. Schweinsteiger, Olic, Gomez, Mueller, and/or Klose through the middle with Ribery and Robben on either wing should lead to a goal bonanza most weeks. But it doesn't. Frankly, they shouldn't even be here. Fiorentina were the better side over two legs, and the German club only advanced because a blatantly offside goal was allowed in Munich.

Inter Milan have all the talent in the world (as usual) but still play the dreadfully boring Jose Mourinho style of football. They have not played well in quite a while. I can't see them winning the tournament, but they should get to a semi-final unless they draw one of the clubs below.

Manchester United are not very good. I watch them almost every week, and they seem to always be outplayed. But somehow Wayne Rooney pops up with another goal, or a ball ricochets into the net off Paul Scholes' ass or an opponents knee. As I said, they are not that good, but they may be the luckiest side I have ever seen. I think they are through if they draw anyone besides Barcelona. The French teams could cause them trouble, but the French striker will get sent off and Fletcher will mis-hit a ball off 6 defenders and into goal to put them through.

Arsenal are my pick to win the competition. I just think they are the most talented team overall. Their downfall could be that Almunia is a bit shaky in goal, but when it comes to attacking talent, they are second to none, and I think their defense is a lot more reliable than Bayern Munich's or even Barcelona's.

Barcelona are the consensus favorite to retain their title, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they did so, but this year's squad seems to be lacking something. It reminds me a bit of Chelsea the last two seasons. The talent is there, strength and depth at every position, a good manager, but I just don't trust them.

We will have a better idea of each club's chances very soon, when the draw is completed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wesley Sneijder

This 25 year old midfielder for Inter Milan and Holland is an incredible talent. He is also one of the most exasperating players in world football. When he is motivated he is clearly a top class playmaker, able to create numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates and really control an entire match from his advanced central-midfield position. But when he is not in the mood, for whatever reason, he completely disappears from the game. I have seen matches where you wouldn't even know he was on the pitch. And when you play an attacking role in the middle of the park, this is no easy task because everything goes through you.

As Inter progresses through the Champions League it will be interesting to see how he performs. If he is at the top of his game, Inter might be able to win the competition, yet if he is not giving them top class performances, I can't see them getting much further.

When things get really interesting will be after the World Cup begins. Nigel de Jong is an outstanding defensive midfielder, and he will give Sneijder the freedom to go forward with little to no defensive responsibilities. If Sneijder plays well, setting up Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, and the other Dutch attackers, the Netherlands could make a serious run in June. I will be watching him with great interest in the next few months.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bolton Wanderers 4 Wigan Athletic 0

Brilliant result for the Wanderers! And the play was outstanding as well. Wigan had a few bright moments, Hugo Rodellega was a constant threat, but overall Bolton really dominated the match. And the onslaught of goals can only help the player's confidence, especially considering who scored them.

Johann Elmander scored the first. I don't know that any player has ever needed a goal more than he did. Hopefully he will build on this moving forward. In fact, I predict he will do so emphatically. My bold proclamation is that he will score 5 goals in the next 8 matches, and finish with 10 in all competitions for the season.

Fabrice Muamba has been a rock defensively for most of the season. He defended well under gary Megson, but offered nothing going forward in Megson's ultra-conservative system. Even when he has gotten forward more under Coyle fans behind the goal have been well advised to wear helmets. But recently his composure on the ball has improved, and his supreme athleticism and pace allows him to get into excellent positions. If he starts offering something going forward, the 21-year-old immediately becomes one of the top holding midfielders in the Premier League.

But the immediate news for the Wanderers and their supporters is that the club has put some considerable distance between itself and the relegation zone. And, given results elsewhere, Bolton can start to look at catching clubs above them, rather than nervously glancing back at the clubs behind them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bolton Wanderers v Wigan Athletic

It's another relegation 6 pointer for Bolton as they host a Wigan side who are loaded with confidence after defeating Liverpool on Monday. Bolton have had to make some changes as Sam Ricketts is suspended.

Andy O'Brien (a disaster waiting to happen) comes into central defense, which does not bode well for the Wanderers.

Tamir Cohen returns from suspension and steps right into central midfield. Cohen has been solid, if unspectacular, this season. A large part of the support has not taken to him, but Bolton's best performances this season have come with him on the pitch.

Johann Elmander has been playing quite well, but still has struggled to find the back of the net, his fine strike for Sweden notwithstanding, and if he misses another tap-in this week the predictable groans and Ivan Klasnic chants from the moodier amongst the supporters will only serve to sap his confidence even further.

Speaking of moody, winger Vladimir Weiss is one again starting from the bench, which the 20-year-old will be unhappy about. I would like to see both he and Mustapha Riga get a solid chance to show what they can do, but injuries and red cards the past few weeks have prevented it.

As for relegation, Burnley and Wolves also face each other today, and they will be even more desperate than Wigan and Bolton for 3 points. We could see both these matches drawn, which is fairly common for these high pressure encounters, but if Wigan or Bolton manage to take all 3 points they will go a long way towards securing top flight football for next season. For me, the traditional 40 point threshold will put a club 13th or 14th in the table at the end of this season. A win for Bolton would give them 32 points, and while they should't pack up their boots and go on holiday if that happens, 32 points may keep you up this season.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Three Porto defenders are still spinning around in their penalty box looking for Samir Nasri. What a finish!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

West Ham United 1 Bolton Wanderers 2

Great result for the Wanderers! They were outstanding for the first 60 minutes or so, and then defended valiantly for the final half hour as they were down to 10 men. Kevin Davies and Jack Wilshere got the goals. Now things get interesting. If Wanderers get all three points against Sunderland in their next match they will be on 32 points, not exactly safe (although it might be this season), but well clear of the scrum at the bottom of the table.

Friday, March 5, 2010

West Ham United vs. Bolton Wanderers

This is a big match between two teams trying to pull away from the relegation battle and settle into mid-table mediocrity. West Ham currently sit 13th with 27 points and goal differential of -8. Bolton are 15th with 26 points and a -19 goal differential. Hull City and Burnley play Everton and Arsenal this weekend, so it is a good opportunity for the Wanderers or the Hammers to put some distance between themselves and the bottom 3.

It will be interesting to see what team Owen Coyle picks, especially in the central attacking positions. Of course Kevin Davies will start at forward, and I would expect to see Lee Chung-Yong and Jack Wilshere on the wings. But Stuart Holden and Mark Davies are both unavailable because of injury, and Tamir Cohen seems to have fallen out of favor. That leaves Matt Taylor, who has been in poor form most of the season, or Vladimir Weiss, who really doesn't look to be capable of playing in the center of midfield.

I think most Wanderers supporters would like to see Wilshere moved into the middle with Weiss on the wing. I don't know if Coyle will do that away from home, we might see the return of Ricardo Gardner.

The other questions is who will partner Davies up front. Ivan Klasnic has returned from injury, but Elmander has continued to start, and he scored an outstanding goal for Sweden Wednesday. I am very much looking forward to seeing the team sheet tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stuart Holden

The young American had a rough night Wednesday, but it may yet have a silver lining.

Holden started for the US against Holland yesterday, and it was a one hundred eighty degree turnaround from just a month ago. At the beginning of February Holden was coming off an injury, not playing for his club, and barely surviving at the fringes of the US squad, not even certain he would be on the plane to South Africa.

Then, just last week Bolton Wanderers had an FA Cup replay against Tottenham, and Holden finally got an opportunity. Even though Bolton were knocked out of the cup, young Stuart played well enough that he was given the chance to start the next league match. He played great, Bolton won, and Stuart Holden went on to the Amsterdam Stadium, full of confidence and ready to play Holland.

When he arrived in the Netherlands, Stuart discovered that, thanks to 4 midfielders and 1 striker being out injured, he would be in the starting line-up. In the first half hour played well, maybe the only US player to play well, and I was thinking not only had he secured his place in South Africa, but he would be full of confidence and ready to take the Premier League by storm when he returned.

But alas, it was not to be. Manchester City midfielder Nigel DeJong wen tin high, late, and hard on a tackle at midfield, breaking Holden's leg and putting him out of action for at least 6 weeks. Damn the luck. Hopefully he will recover quickly.

There was other good news though. Holden had originally signed with Bolton on a short term contract through the end of May, with an option for Bolton to extend it to the end of next season. This week, despite the injury, Bolton decided to exercise that option. A good decision in my opinion.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vladimir Weiss

This young winger was signed on loan from Manchester City in January on a six month loan deal. He made a couple appearances straight away, starting one match, and it looked like he was going to establish himself ahead of the other young midfielders at Bolton. He has plenty of pace, a few tricks, and an obvious desire to score goals.

The Slovakian was not the only winger brought in by Owen Coyle. Both Jack Wilshere from Arsenal and Stuart Holden from Houston are more experienced than Weiss and play on the wing, although Holden played in central midfield this past Saturday. Maybe the manager has decided that Weiss, of the three, is more effective as a change of pace off the bench. This is fine with me, as long as Coyle continues to play two out of the three along with Fabrice Muamba and Lee Chung-Yong, in an all under 25 and very attacking midfield, I believe Bolton Wanderers will end up in a decent position at season's end.

I would also think, given the size of the Manchester City squad and the extensive resources of the club, that if Weiss impresses there is a good chance that the loan will be extended through next season.