This will be the fourth time we will have kicked off against this Bolton team this season. The second time in the Premier League and two times...
This will be the fourth time we will have kicked off against this Bolton team this season. The second time in the Premier League and two times in the FA Cup, the first of which was the game which had to be postponed because of the Fabrice Muamba incident. That incident occurred only a month and a half ago and the special VIP guest for this game and quite rightly so, is the man himself. Fabrice and his incredible recovery has put football into perspective for a lot of people and whichever side you are behind on Wednesday there will be masses of support for him to continue on his recovery path, hopefully back to the football pitch.
Another big change from my last preview is the fact that (this article was written on the day of the England manager announcement) the only reason I believed Redknapp was still at the club was because Daniel Levy was waiting for the approach from the FA and the £10 million compensation cheque that came with it. This however looks to have changed with the imminent announcement that Roy Hodgson will be given the reigns of the England job. This doesn't change my outlook on Harry, as he has been running his mouth off all week saying our stars aren't leaving, then leaving the next day. As far as I am concerned and from what I have been reliably told Harry will not be with us for very long.
Now we have somehow managed to get ourselves back into fourth place and back in the driving seat to secure the fourth Champions League spot, this game like all after it for the rest of the season is a must win if we are to play at the highest level of European football next season.
So what do we need to do to win? I feel with the confidence gained by the players with the win over Blackburn and the England manager situation being solved and not in the back of anyone’s minds we could potentially see a performance like we did earlier on in the season. When we destroyed teams, even away from home when we are usually at our weakest we beat tough teams like Norwich and West Brom. Do the basics, keep it simple, stay organised, communicate and after that worry about beating the eleven men in front of you. The key to this game will be our wingers, and the players directly behind them. We destroyed teams when our wingers stayed out wide and got chalk on their boots, our LB and RB's would then overlap them and deliver dangerous balls or flick it back to the more attack minded wide men. We won on Sunday and played very well, but as I have only seen the goals I did not see how we lined up, so if the win was because those wingers (mainly Bale) stayed wide then we just have to continue that.
We know how Bolton play with the one big man up front who receives the ball from the centre back. Although credit must be given to Owen Coyle because the footballing differences between his reign and Big Sam Allardyce's are humongous. They still like to lump it up field but at the same time they can play some good football, with players like Petrov, Eagles and Davies bringing that extra bit of quality to help the team in that area. In terms of playing against that long ball tactic it is vital that the two players who start up front for us apply lots of pressure on their centre backs. This closing down will mean the fairly uncomfortable on the ball defenders will either rush a pass or lose possession altogether and also they will not be able to play long ball over the top which will cause problems for us.
Spurs' form of late has started too pick up at the right time, with a last five of DLLLW. The win was the very comfortable 2 - 0 victory against Blackburn on Sunday. The losses indeed were bumps in the road but the draw away to Sunderland was a good result although many Lilywhite's thought we should have come away with three points rather than the one. With the news of Hodgson's probable appointment as England manager this will set a few minds at rest at White Hart Lane and therefore a boost in performances. We are looking for our first away win in the Premier League since the 27th December 2011 when we beat Norwich 2 - 0 at Carrow Road, which shocked me when I read that. I knew we have been bad in 2012 but I didn't realise it was that bad.
Bolton's form is a little better than ours with a record of LLDWD in the last five. Although slightly better they have not exactly been lighting up the Premier League with their results, as their win was away to the recently dire Aston Villa. The two draws have been well deserved with a 1 - 1 against a good Swansea team and away to Sunderland (2 - 2) most recently. Their last home win was against Blackburn on the 24th March which ended 2 - 1 to the Trotters, and the last time we played them we were victorious 3 - 1.
A massive bonus last week was that Younes Kaboul, who Harry had said would be out for the rest of the season, played on Sunday against Blackburn. He was instrumental in bringing the solid base back to our defence and him being available I think will be the difference between finishing fourth, fifth or maybe sixth. In the Blackburn game, Lennon turned his ankle but it didn't look too serious so therefore I would expect to see him start again. Other than that it's just the long term injuries to Benny, Kranjcar, Dawson and Huddlestone that keeps us from having a full squad.
With injuries in mind below is the team I hope steps out on Wednesday night at the Reebok Stadium -
Bolton danger men - Martin Petrov (MF), Kevin Davies (FW)
Score prediction - 1 - 3