Well, well, well, for the third macth in a row, Bolton face another North West Club. Having beaten Blackburn and then lost to United, Sam Allardyce and the boys will be looking at this match as a must-win occasion.
Last season, we played Wigan three times and were beaten twice and drew the other game. Our rivalry with Wigan isn’t an old one – they haven’t been around for too long in the top leagues of football- but because of the nearness of the two sides, the rivalry has turned into a deep one.
Wigan exceeded all expectations last season. This time around, like West Ham, they’ve struggled. Unlike West Ham, they’ve been bedding in a lot of new players. The win against City was impressive but, then again, it was only against City. Camara and Heskey look sharp and on their day they’ll be a handful for most Premiership defences.
Bolton will be wanting to erase the memory of last week’s hammering. The best way to do that will be to get an impressive victory in front of the Reebok crowd against Wigan.
Sam Allardyce was upbeat about the game on Saturday but realistic about the challenge ahead.
‘We don’t want to make it three defeats on the trot and be losing that reputation we have for being so solid at the Reebok,’ explained Allardyce.
‘It might sound strange but this could be a big turning point for us.
‘We’ve suffered in the past when one defeat has slipped to another and another – we’ve had runs of six defeats and five defeats in the last two seasons. So we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen this time and waste the best Premiership start we have ever had.
‘It is how we respond that matters after last week’s defeat. The players know they are good enough to beat Wigan and I am sure with the right application we can get our first victory over them in the Premiership.’
Paul Jewell also sounds optimistic.
‘I had been happy with the performances but we weren’t getting results and I got fed up of saying ‘It will come right’.
‘In the end, I had to kick a few backsides because we needed to get back to being hard to beat.
‘I am not getting carried away because it is only two wins on the bounce but so far it seems to have worked.’
Bolton Team News:
Nolan is still suspended and Fortune is injured. O’Brien and Gardner are back in training but it’s too early for them to take part in this match.
Player to watch: Nicolas Anelka
Just got a feeling in the old bones that he’s ready to score a few. He’s been impressive so far and he’s contributed to the team in a way that other pundits said that he wouldn’t. We saw a Rooney hat-trick last week. What price an Anelka one this week?
Wigan Team News:
Emile Heskey is expected to recover from a thigh strain but Josip Skoko, Fitz Hall and Antonio Valencia have already been ruled out for Wigan.
Player to watch: Henri Camara
We nearly signed the guy a few seasons back but Wolves wouldn’t play ball. He’s lightening quick with an eye for goal and when he’s on form, he’s dynamite. When he’s not, he’s a bit of a liability.
Match Facts & Stats
To be honest, we haven’t met that often but here are the stats anyway.
Home and away
League: Bolton 7 wins, Wigan 8, Draws 5
Prem: Bolton 0 wins, Wigan 1, Draws 1
at Bolton only
League: Bolton 4 wins, Wigan 3, Draws 3
Prem: Bolton 0 wins, Wigan 0, Draws 1
Mark Clattenburg – this year’s stats tell us that he’s equal with Rob Styles at the top of the card brandishing list, though he hasn’t shown a red card yet. He looked after the Bolton – Watford game and was a bit fussy. This will be the first time this season he’s refereed Wigan.
3-0 to Bolton. Just really fancy our chances this week. The United game will be on the player’s minds and they’ll want to show everyone it was just a blip. An Anelka hat-trick would do it for me.
Bolton: Sheffield United – Away
Wigan: Charlton Athletic – Home