So, when then Bolton match got changed for TV, who else thought ‘"Why, nobody’s going to want to watch that? This severely limits my drinking time!" Come on; own up, it can’t have just been me. Well here we are all those weeks later, and SAFC v Bolton is 6th vs. 7th in the Premier League...
SAFC Team News
Any SAFC fan who has even glanced at a paper or walked past a radio will know defensively, we’re on our arses now that Ferdinand’s out for a month. Suddenly the back four could take many different shapes, so it’s anyone’s guess as to who will line-up. And since anyone can guess, here’s mine; I think we will start how we ended Fulham. The Fulham game was bollocks but remember we did keep a clean sheet. So alls not lost.
Elmohamady plays right-back for his national team, and I expect him to line-up there for us. His pace and ability to get forward should cause Bolton some problems. Hopefully he has worked on his crossing this week!
The rest of the defence works itself out, John The (C)Rock at centre-back, teaming up with the rapidly improving Nedum Onouha, and Bardsley continuing his solid form at left back, just someone please, please and triple please stop him from shooting and/or taking free-kicks.
I can’t see Paulo Da Silva coming in from the cold. If anything, Bruce is going to want to keep him fresh for; Situation A) Mensah gets his inevitable injury, or, Situation B) we’re on the cusp of selling him. Either way, he’s keeping the bench warm.
Into midfield, Captain Catts will obviously be starting, but his partner in the centre is more of a mystery. Meyler looked way off pace against Fulham, so I think we can expect him to be on the bench. Riveros got through some reserve team action with little fuss midweek, and I suppose stranger things have happened than him coming into the team. However, it is increasingly obvious that Bruce sees something in Kieran Richardson that nobody else can, so look to him to get the nod. Henderson will roam the right of midfield, whilst on the left it is a case of how ambitious is Steve Bruce? The experience of Zenden, or the attacking Welbeck? I expect to see the latter option.
Obviously Darren Bent is going to be up front, and either Welbeck or Gyan partnering him. Gyan if Welbeck is in midfield, Welbeck if Gyan is on the bench.
Gordon; Elmohamady, Mensah, Onouha, Bardsley; Henderson, Cattermole, Zenden, Malbranque; Bent, Gyan.
Bruce’s Probable Team:
Gordon; Elmohamady, Mensah, Onouha, Bardsley; Henderson, Cattermole, Richardson, Welbeck; Bent, Gyan.
From the Bolton Side:
Bolton are surprising everyone so far this season, and are a completely different proposition than they were under Megson & Allardyce. They get the ball down and play it well, but can mix it up still with the two target men Davies and Elmander.
I think Davies & Elmander against Mensah & Onouha is an absolutely key battle. I fancy Mensah’s chances against Davies in all honesty, both are very robust and John’s an absolute beast who has the tactical nous to out fox Davies 9 times out of 10.
Elmander on Onouha though is a different proposition. Elmander scored a contender for goal of the season against Wolves, and clichéd as it is to say, he’s got good feet for a big man. Onouha has been improving every week, but has on occasions been caught flat-footed or facing the wrong way. I hope this doesn’t happen on Saturday.
The third concern is Chung-Yong Lee, the highly rated Korean is a box of tricks, and Elmohamady needs to have his defensive head on to cope with him on the right hand side, and not get caught too far up the pitch.
Mark Davies is suspended for Bolton, however Fabrice Muamba should come in and replace him allowing Holden & Lee to roam forwards.
I can see this being a real open encounter. We’ve got a great home record, and Bolton can score for fun. On the other side of things, we’ve got a patchwork defence and a flappy keeper. Bolton has only kept one clean sheet all season.
I foresee the lads coming away with a 3-2 victory. Bent with two, one of which a penalty (No reasoning, I just think there will be one). Gyan grabbing a 3rd before Davies bundles home his second in the 85th minute to ensure a nervy finish.
Keep the faith everyone.