Date: 22nd April 2009 at 11:12am
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It was painful to watch. Bolton get the ball. Bolton lose the ball. Aston Villa play it down the wings, into the penalty area and moments later it`s in the back of the net.

The occasion was December`s game between the two sides at Villa Park, when the Wanderers demonstrated, not for the first time this season, that they can`t compete with a team who perform their duties competently.

It used to be said that Bolton played to their strengths. On that day, that was an accurate description of the home side. They had two speedy wingers and midfielders capable of supplying them with the ball. By contrast the visitors were slow, disorganised and careless in possession. They could have been tailor made for Villa.

Since then Bolton have continued to bump along, just above the relegation places, and Saturday`s visitors to the Reebok have scaled the heights, being fourth at one time, several points clear of Arsenal, and then fallen from them. They are currently on a poor run of form, the last win having come on February 7th at Blackburn, eleven games ago.

So that should give the Whites hope right? Not necessarily. Bolton`s habit of providing get out of jail free cards to sides in poor form is well established. Tottenham hadn`t won a game until Gary Megson`s collection of misfits pitched up at White Hart Lane. The result and performance led to travelling fans vociferously suggesting that the Ginger One indulges in certain solo pleasures.

Fulham were without a victory on the road until they came to the Reebok. They not only won, but scored as many goals in one game as they had in the previous fourteen away from home.

Aston Villa aren`t the same side as they were in December. The chance of Champions League football has gone, key personnel are struggling for form and fitness and the exit from the UEFA cup, after fielding a much weakened side, appears to have had a debilitating effect on morale (doesn`t that sound familiar?).

But there will never be a better chance to get the show back on the road, against a Bolton side who haven`t won a single point so far, in eleven games against top six opposition. A Villa win, and possibly an emphatic one, seems likely.


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