Friday, December 9, 2011

Bolton Wanderers v Relegation (and Aston Villa)

If you look at the past several seasons in the top flight, there is always a club that is "too good to go down."  Newcastle held that title at one point, and West Ham has held it three or four times.  Leeds and Southampton in 2004 and 2005 were too good to go down.  Millwall and Birmingham played in Europe the seasons after they went down.  It kills me to say it, but this season's Bolton team has that feeling.

Big names are underperforming; Gary Cahill, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Kevin Davies, Martin Petrov, Tuncay, Paul Robinson

Injuries have exposed a lack of depth and creativity; Stuart Holden, Lee Chung-yong, Tyrone Mears, Sam Ricketts, Marcos Alonso, Ricardo Gardner

Bad luck seems to play a part in a lot of results; Red cards, shots off the post, flukey deflected goals for the opposition.

A bad start puts the club in a substantial hole;  9 points from 14 matches in one of the worst Premier League starts in recent memory.

The good news, which is also almost inexplicable news?  We can still get out of it quite easily.  Six clubs are averaging a point or less per match.  Another six, up to Aston Villa in ninth, are within six points of the relegation zone.  There are six league matches in the next 25 days.  The bottom half of the table is going to look like it was put through a blender on January 5th.

Amongst these 12 clubs, whomever finds a good run of form over the next month could move up ten spots and give themselves a huge cushion against the relegation battle.

Wanderers are certainly a club capable of this.  It all starts tomorrow against Villa.  I have said it before, what we really need at the Reebok is a 0-0.  And then another.  Followed by a gutsy 1-0 win.  We might like more than 5 points from Villa, Fulham, Blackburn, but I think the squads mindset is more important.  If we can just show some defensive solidity, the rest will come.

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