Owen Coyle’s side fell back into old habits failing to build on their impressive 5-0 hammering of Stoke City before the international break turning in a lifeless performance in the 2-1 defeat at West Brom last week. The Trotters had the chance to move out of the relegation zone against the Baggies but were let down once again by a frail defensive performance costing them dearly. The time and space afforded to Zoltan Gera outside the penalty area which allowed him to pick out the run of Jerome Thomas for Albion’s opening goal displayed the inadequacies in Bolton’s back four. Both Gary Cahill and Zat Knight were caught flat footed whilst youngster Joe Riley showed his lack of experience by failing to track Thomas’ movement. Bolton were just as blunt in attack with the years continuing to catch up on Kevin Davies and the midfield failing to create a suitable amount of chances for him and partner Ivan Klasnic. Confidence is a major issue for Coyle’s side with the players not prepared to take the risks that could lead to them winning games. Any sort of morale that was built after their convincing win over the Potters appeared to have evaporated by the time they arrived in the Midlands and it’s something that needs to be quickly addressed. Their form at home as been a major problem so far this season with five defeats coming from the six games played at the Reebok. Coyle needs to revert back to basics and make his team hard to beat with the ease in which they concede goals a major factor in their slide into the relegation zone. The Trotters have kept only two clean sheets in the league this season and if they continue to ship goals like they are at the moment the festive period is going to be a long and arduous one.
Everton, on the other hand, ended a run of three consecutive defeats with a late win over Wolves at Goodison Park last Saturday with Leighton Baines’ penalty seven minutes from time securing only a second home victory of the season. David Moyes will have been happy with his sides resilient performance as they battled back from a goal down to secure all three points. The manner in which the Toffees were brushed aside by Newcastle before the international break angered Moyes and he will be delighted his players responded accordingly. The Merseysiders had one just one of their previous six league games and sat just a place above the relegation zone before the visit of Mick McCarthy’s side. However they now lie in 12th and are within touching distance of the top eight which is a position many thought they’d be occupying at this stage of the campaign. In truth it’s taken Everton a while to get going, as it did last year, and it’s left them having to make up ground on the teams above them. Despite their slow start the win over Wolves highlighted the potential that exists within Moyes’ side with Maroune Fellaini and Jack Rodwell dominating the midfield whilst Tim Cahill and Louis Saha linked up to great effect in attack despite failing to score once again. The big plus point will be the display of captain Phil Jagielka who popped up with the equalising goal and kept the back four structured and tight. His organisation at the back gave the players ahead of him the confidence to attack with out consequence although goals do still remain a problem. That was only the third time this season that Everton had managed to score more than one goal and Moyes will need to get his strikers purring if they are to continue their rise up the table.
Bolton – 18th
Last Five: Lost 2-1 v West Brom (A), Won 5-0 v Stoke (H), Lost 3-1 v Swansea (A), Lost 2-0 v Sunderland (H), Won 3-1 v Wigan (A)
Potential Starting X11: 22. J. Jaaskelainen 39. J. Riley 5. G. Cahill 31. D. Wheater 4. P. Robinson 7. C. Eagles 6. F. Muamba 19. N. Reo Coker 19. M. Davies 17. I. Klasnic* 14. K. Davies [C]
Injury News: Bolton have no fresh injury concerns to worry about although their treatment room is beginning to look a touch overcrowded with eight first team players currently residing in their. However they could have defender Mikel Alonso back for the visit of Everton after his recovery from an ankle injury.
Key Player: Ivan Klasnic
Goals have been hard to come by for Bolton this season but not for the Croatian who made it six for the season with his penalty against West Brom. Klasnic now has three in his last two after a five match drought and the Trotters will need him to continue his prolific form if they are to haul themselves away from the drop zone.
Bolton have won the last two meetings between the sides at the Reebok Stadium but had failed to win in the previous four before beating them 3-2 in October 2009.
Everton – 12th
Last Five: Won 2-1 v Wolves (H), Lost 2-1 v Newcastle (A), Lost 1-0 v Manchester United (H), Won 3-1 v Fulham (A), Lost 3-1 v Chelsea (A)
Potential Starting X11: 24. T. Howard 2. T. Hibbert 5. J. Heitinga 15. S. Distin [C] 3. L. Baines 23. S. Coleman 26. J. Rodwell 25. M. Fellaini* 11. R. Drenthe 17. T. Cahill 8. L. Saha
Injury News: Victor Anichebe remains the only player in the Goodison Park treatment room meaning David Moyes has a fully fit squad to choose from for the trip to Bolton.
Key Player: Marouane Fellaini
After being ravaged by injuries last season the big Belgian has started this season in breathtaking fashion putting in some classy performances in the heart of Everton’s midfield. His partnership with Rodwell is a burgeoning one but they seem to compliment each other and England international’s defensive work has given Fellaini the opportunity to get forward and bolster the Toffee’s attack which paid dividends against Wolves.
Match Fact: David Moyes’ side enjoy playing at Boton having won four and drawn three of the 11 games between the pair since the Reebok started playing host to Premier League football in 1997.
Last Time at The Reebok Stadium
Premier League 13 February 2011
Bolton 2-0 Everton
Cahill, 10. Sturridge, 67
Referee: Lee Probert
Everton go into the game with renewed confidence after their late win against Wolves last week whilst Bolton once again found themselves having to bounce back from yet another defeat. The Trotters find it difficult to play in front of their own fans despite the Reebok faithful remaining loyal and supportive during their terrible start to the season. Whether Coyle can get his team firing on all cylinders for this one is unknown and whilst chairman Phil Gartside has been patient another home loss could start to see him consider a change in the dugout. The Toffee’s on the other hand go in search of consecutive wins for the first time this season and will be optimistic of emerging victorious on a ground where they’ve taken 15 points from a possible 33 in their last 11 visits.