It has been a strange old week to be a Bolton Wanderers fan. Our little club has been at the centre of the football world for reasons other than football as we, like the rest, have focused our attention on a central midfielder, barely known outside the environs of The Reebok, The Emirates and St. Andrew’s before last Saturday.
And the football world will be focused on T’Reebok tomorrow as they wait and see just how we will react to the events at White Hart Lane last Saturday and throughout the week at The London Chest Hospital. Will the players be able to perform just seven days after seeing their friend and colleague lying prone on the pitch? Will they stand up and be counted in a must win game in the relegation battle?
More importantly, will the ground be sold out and will Darren Pratley now step up and be the player that the manager thought he had signed?
Blackburn’s victory over Sunderland, coupled with QPR’s comeback against Liverpool has put us back into the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand. Our second game in a row against fellow relegation candidates now takes on a new importance. Win and we may climb back out of the bottom three. Lose and not only do we virtually guarantee Blackburn’s survival, we may find ourselves five points adrift. The margins are that narrow.
‘We have a game to play this weekend but all our thoughts will remain with Fabrice. We have to go and play the match and do it to the best of our ability. Will it be difficult? Absolutely, it goes without saying. I spoke to the group on Wednesday because what we have to understand is that we all have different personalities and different natures. Some people are affected in different ways than others. I wouldn’t ask anybody to play in these circumstances if they weren’t in a position to do so. It will be a difficult game of football because all of our thoughts will remain with Fabrice.‘ A cynic would say that OC is getting his excuses in early, but these are not normal times.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Bolton have no new injury worries, bar the obvious, so the team that started against QPR should be the team that starts tomorrow, unless the manager feels that Ivan Klasnic is worth a punt in place of David N’Gog. If it were a normal day.
Naturally, it isn’t, so the infamous 4-4-2 could raise its head if some players don’t want to play. This may mean a return for SKD.
Player to watch: All Of Them
To play this game will not be easy for any of the players. Last weekend was a unique situation and we forget sometimes that these are mostly young men, the majority untouched by the death, or near death, of someone close to them. The fixture list has not been kind. A game against a mid table Aston Villa would have been preferable tomorrow, rather than a derby six pointer. But that is the way it has fallen. You can probably name those that you believe are mentally strong enough yourself.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Gael Givet is a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury. Other than that, Blackburn have got most of their squad to choose from.
Player to watch: Yakubu
Despite four of his thirteen league goals coming in one game, even if you took them away, Yakubu would still have scored almost double the league goals of the next Blackburn player. He has been around that long, it is remarkable that he is still the right side of thirty and still causing defences problems. His bulk may not be a problem for a central defence of Ream and Wheater, but his eye for a goal rivals Klasnic and he should be disregarded at our peril.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton and Blackburn have faced each other 145 times through the top three divisions since first meeting at Leamington Road in 1888, a match that finished 4-4. Bolton, naturally, hold a 58-54 lead in the head to heads overall and 37-17 at Pike’s, Burnden and T’Reebok.
You have to go back to the 1920’s and David Jack to find Bolton’s top scorer in the fixture, netting twelve between 1921 and 1928. In the Premier League, Bolton have had eighteen different scorers against Blackburn with the top two, the two Kevin’s Nolan and Davies, scoring just three apiece.
Andre Marriner has taken charge of just one Bolton game this season, the 5-0 humbling by Stretford, booking both the Davies’ in the process.
As for Blackburn, this is the fourth time he will have officiated them and the goal total in those games stands at twenty one, their games against Arsenal, where they won 4-3 and lost 7-1, and their 3- draw at Wigan. He’s also sent off David Dunn. Entertaining.
2-0 for Fab. 2-0 for the fans. 2-0 for the club. So, that’s either 2-0 or 6-0.
The rearranged tie at Spurs on Tuesday before the third must win game at Wolves next Saturday.