Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea – Match Preview

Bolton boss Owen Coyle will be cursing his luck as his hapless Trotters side welcome Chelsea to the Reebok Stadium on Sunday looking to halt a run of five consecutive defeats.

Coyle’s men have failed to win a game since beating QPR 4-0 at Loftus Road on the opening day of the season and sending them plummeting to the foot of the table. Pressure is starting to build on the Wanderers boss as fans start to question whether he is the right man to take them forward although having to play both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea in their first seven games would prove difficult for any manager. However last week’s second half collapse at Arsenal and the spiritless defeat at home to Norwich seven days have seen fears rise in the Reebok stands that the club could be on the decline. The loss of Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong have proved to be bigger blows than first expected with Chris Eagles and Nigel Reo Coker struggling to replace the dynamic midfield duo. Retaning the services of Gary Cahill was also supposed to be a massive plus only for the England defender to see a dramatic downturn in form add to Coyle’s woes. The once steady Jussi Jaaskelainen now looks like a bundle of nerves every time the ball comes towards goal and the veteran may need to be benched if things continues to get worse. A clutch of players are ineligible for the game with David Wheater and Ivan Klasnic serving suspensions. Gael Kakuta is also unavailable as he isn’t permitted to play against his parent club. The Trotters have failed to score in their last five league and cup games against the Blues and have failed to win in the last 15 against their opponents.

Andre Villas-Boas will be intent on making that 16 on Sunday as he continues to remodel the side into a well oiled attacking machine. Gone is the patient approach adopted by Carlo Ancelotti replaced with a forward thinking mentality mixed with pace and guile. Juan Mata has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and is brining out the best in Ramires and Jon Obi Mikel in the holding roles. Raul Meireles has also added some much needed craft to the centre of the park and with Fernando Torres slowly but surely getting back to his best everything looks rosy at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard will miss the trip to Bolton after his sending off against Swansea last week meaning former Trotters favourite Nicolas Anelka or Didier Drogba will start up front. Frank Lampard could also be recalled after sitting on the bench last Saturday before scoring in Wednesday’s Champions League draw with Valencia. Daniel Strurridge could also return to the Reebok after spending six months on loan there but is likely to start the game on the bench after receiving from injury.

Key Players

Gary Cahill – Despite a poor start to the season from the England centre half he is still key to Bolton’s defensive game and will need to be on top form to snuff out the Chelsea attack. His pace and aerial prowess will be put to the test against Drogba, Anelka and Sturridge.

Ramires – After a below-par debut season the Brazilian midfielder has stepped up to become a key figure in Villas-Boas’ team. Despite his size he has a massive engine and puts in a lot of unnoticed running from the centre of the park. Took his goals well against Swansea last week.

Verdict: 0-2

  • Bolton’s Gary Cahill continues to be linked with a host of top European clubs this season, with Barcelona the latest to be linked with a January swoop. The defender is ranked 112th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index and is the 3rd highest Bolton player after Ivan Klasnic (ranked 31st) Martin Petrov (ranked 59th).
  • However, Cahill is currently a part of the Premier League’s worst defence, with Bolton conceding more goals than any other this season (16)
  • Ramires showed his goal scoring credentials netting twice against Swansea. The Portugese midfielder had 6 attempts on target on Saturday with 4 hitting the target and 2 goals. In his previous 5 appearances for Chelsea he had only had 8 attempts at goal, getting 3 on target.
  • Ramires also covered more ground than any other Chelsea player against Swansea, with 12.32km (7.66 miles)

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