Tomorrow sees Bolton play their final game of 2017. How would you assess the year? Myself, a massive success to actually get promotion, and while the half of this season has been a bit disappointing so far, we`re better off than we were at this point two seasons ago.
Anyway, the 2017 swansong takes us to Bramall Lane, as the top two in League One last season lock horns again. Yes, we face Sheffield United, who had been wobbling in recent weeks after taking to the Championship far better than we have, but Christmas has been good to them so far, with a draw at Villa followed by a comfortable Boxing Day home win against Sunderland. Meanwhile, we`re playing away from home. Enough said.
“I hope I get stick. If they are booing me I must be doing something right. I have been there and upset them betore and I want to do it again.”
Gary Madine, ahead of a renewal of the Gary Madine-Billy Sharp rivalry. Messi and Ronaldo must look up this duel.
Sheffield United Team News:
John Fleck will be available following a three-game suspension picked up after a red card against Bristol City earlier this month. Young talent David Brooks has had tonsillitis, so may not be available. Kieron Freeman and Ched Evans are both injured.
Player to watch: Leon Clarke
Billy Sharp might be on most of our radars, but going off this season the real threat may be that of his strike partner. Clarke is the Championship`s top scorer. At the age of 32, it`s a bit of a surprise frankly, he has previously never scored more than eight goals in a Championship season, and has never scored more than 15 in a season in his career, which now looks like set to be smashed. Sharp meanwhile, has one more goal than Madine (8 to 7)
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Andy Taylor went off in the first half against Middlesbrough with a calf injury, so Antonee Robinson should get a place back in the team. I would expect an unchanged starting XI otherwise, unless Will Buckley comes back in for Craig Noone.
Player to watch: Gary Madine
There`ll be a lot of attention on him for this one. Last season saw Madine miss this game, apparently ill, as we lost 2-0 after a video had been leaked where he said some less than complimentary things about Billy Sharp. He`ll be playing tomorrow and there`s a chance to make up for lost time.
Match Facts & Stats
Our last win at Bramall Lane came in 1999, when we came out 2-1 victors, since then we have lost two and drawn one. Last season`s defeat was by two goals to nil, with Sharp scoring both.
We lost the reverse fixture 1-0 back in September, Cameron Carter-Vickers scoring the winner that night.
Wanderers` last clean sheet at Sheffield United was in March 1970, when Nat Lofthouse was manager.
Sheffield United have scored in each of their last eight home games, Bolton have scored in four of their last eight away games.
Bolton are now winless in 37 Championship away games, Saturday will mark 1000 days since that Easter Monday in Cardiff back in 2015. Somehow, we still have a slightly better away record than Birmingham (five points to three).
Wanderers could get out of the bottom three tomorrow with a point, providing Sunderland don`t win and Burton lose.
I would expect another away defeat. The Blades may have wobbled, but they`re still having a very good season and have a serious twin goal-threat. 3-1 to that lot.
2018 starts with a crunch home game against Hull, before attention turns to the FA Cup, where we welcome Huddersfield.