clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bolton preview

There is a tendancy in the aftermath of a defeat, particularly one in which there was plenty of expectation, to read far too much into it and to for it to assume a greater signifance than it perhaps ought to.

Some of the post mortems following the reversal at Hull suggest a derailment of the Champions League aspirations, but it would be folly to base such a sweeping statement on the evidence of the ninety minutes at the KC Stadium.

The defeat was certainly disappointing, but was certainly not the insipid loss we saw at White Hart Lane or even Goodison Park, where there were many questions that the defeat raised. It was apparant where the faults lay, and as important, how they can be rectified.

What undid us on Saturday was the listless and lifeless start to the game, where instead of taking the ascendancy we allowed Hull to dictate the tempo and paid the price for it. It was only after falling 2-0 behind that there was any urgency or purpose on display.

Given Mancini's criticism over how we opened the Hull game, expect a fast start tonight. The home record has been excellent over the past eighteen months (unbeaten in nineteen) and we go into the game having scored in twenty-one consecutive league games.

There will of course be changes though. Craig Bellamy has been ruled out through injury, but there is better news with the trio of Joleon Lescott, Roque Santa Cruz and possibly Vincent Kompany pushing for a return.

Adam Johnson appears to be the likely candidate to replace Bellamy, whilst Mancini confirmed Patrick Vieira will start. There is also the possibility that Shaun Wright-Phillips will be restored to the starting line-up to inject more pace and drive. Stephen Ireland and Gareth Barry appear most at risk. Defensively, Mancini may opt for either Lescott or Kompany ahead of Dedryck Boyata.

Bolton are without Gary Cahill, who has suffered a blood clot in his arm and is set to miss the rest of the season. On-loan winger Vladimir Weiss cannot face his parent club, while Andy O'Brien (thigh) and Fabrice Muamba (ankle) are both doubtful.

They have been buoyed by the arrival of Owen Coyle as manager and they have taken four points from their last two outings, keeping a pair of clean sheets in the process. They will be a tough proposition, but it is unlikely Bolton will attempt to take the game to us - although they raced into a two goal lead at Arsenal recently before falling away. The onus will be on us to create and set the tempo early, something we have not always managed in recent weeks.

An early goal will settle any nerves or apprehension of course, and whilst their is less confidence in predicting a victory than there was prior to Saturday it would be a huge surprise if, back on home turf, we failed to take the points.