It’s not that long since a preview of a home game against Bolton, with Allardyce, Nolan, Okocha et al in their pomp would’ve included phrases, like “tough to beat” and “rivals for European place” and in the case of Kevin Davies – “nemesis”. Even last season we only just managed to overcome them with Niko Kranjcar’s last minute piledriver seeing them off.
All that seems to have changed though and most people, assuming Harry abandons his tactic of picking players who’ve apparently never met before, would expect us to cruise to a comfortable win given the respective form of the two sides. 28 points from 30 says everything you need to know about us, whilst 18th in the table with just 9 screams trouble for the Trotters.
So that’s it then. A win to us. Shall we not bother and just give everyone an extra afternoon of Christmas shopping instead? Yeah, why not.
It’s not that straightforward of course as we found out on Wednesday night where the concept of just needing to turn up to win got a big hairy bare-chested slap in the chops. Even though they’re struggling Bolton still possess players we fear (Davies), covet (Cahill), have scored against before (Petrov & Steinsson) and of international quality (Klasnic). They also are fighting for their Premier League status, a motivation we shouldn’t underestimate. Throw in match referee Stuart Atwell, always capable of a maverick decision or seven, and perhaps it’s not quite such a forgone conclusion as it first appears.
The prematch atmosphere will no doubt be put into a sombre mood by a tribute to Gary Speed, made more poignant by the fact that Bolton are one of his former clubs of course.
Modric will come back into our team, whether VdV will be given another week off or not I don’t know. Other than that, we’ll stick to what’s become our first choice XI of late I suspect.
With Man Utd facing a not altogether straightforward task at Villa, there’s a slim possiblity that if all goes well, we may staring up at Man City and only Man City by the end of the weekend. Here’s hoping. COYS.
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