Bolton Wanderers: Does Anyone Care?
5 January 2013
You'll remember, back in the day, whatever day you choose that to be, the Bolton used to do quite well in the FA Cup when we were a lower division team. The likes of Everton, Villa, Spurs, The Arse and The Scousers all crumbled in our wake. We made a semi-final and would have won it if Dean Holdsworth had kept his nerve. Instead, he shredded ours.
And the past couple of seasons have seen a renaissance in our cup exploits. Another semi and a quarter final has seen the first club to win a Wembley final really find its love of the 'world's oldest cup competition' again, after Megson decided that it wasn't important.
So, how do you feel about it this season. Does you still have that feeling? Or are you more of a couldn't care less person, feeling that it just gets in the way?
The name 'Sunderland' doesn't exactly evoke the romance of the cup. Yes, if we beat them, and they are beatable, then it gives us that tag of 'giantkiller' again and a small frisson of delight at sticking it to a Premier League club. But victory will bring another fixture and, with our injury list, one we can ill afford.
However, there is the romance of the cup to contend with. A good win over Premier League opposition may just kick start a season that seems to be having difficulty finding the difference between first and reverse gear. It will give the club some money (God knows, we need it). And it may just prove to the players that they are good enough to get out of the Championship.
So, a 50/50 conundrum. An honest performance is needed, whatever team Dougie chooses to put it. Not that he has that many options with players. No one will be too bothered if we do go out, but no one will be too disappointed if we go through. As long as we get The Arse in the next round.
'It gives me a good opportunity to freshen up the squad and give some game time to those pushing for first team action. It`s a good distraction pitting us against a Premier League club where I think we should belong. It will give us a benchmark as to where we are falling short.' Other than all over the park, Dougie?
'Bolton are a good side. They were relegated at the very end of the season and didn`t stop fighting. Tomorrow they have got very little to lose, they can play with freedom and we`ve got to go there and be on guard against that.' Martin O'Neill. Obviously in need of a new pair of glasses.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
As with most clubs in the early rounds of the club, you would expect Dougie to ring the changes, with Andy Lonergan coming in for Adam Bogdan and Martin Petrov, Sam Ricketts, Joe Riley and even Marvin Sordell possibly starting. Maybe not Sordell. Tom Eaves is cup tied. Not that he would get anywhere near the team, even if he wasn't.
Player to watch: Zat Knight
I include Knight only because as the one of only two fit central defenders, he will definitely be starting. Expect (insert Sunderland striker name here) to give him a torrid time as he has a nightmare coming up against Premier League opposition.
Sunderland Team News:
John O'Shea, Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown all miss out. So, that's good.
Player to watch: Steven Fletcher
I wouldn't bet on Fletcher starting, but if he plays any part he will give the Bolton defence problems. A prolific scorer at Hibs, his goals failed to keep either Wolves or the Dingles up. After joining Sunderland in the summer, he started off like a bullet, scoring five in his first four games. This has tailed off somewhat, he has scored just three goals since, but his physicality will be a constant problem, whether he scores or not.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton and Sunderland have met each other six times in the FA Cup and, it's fair to say, the Black Cats have the upper hand. Bolton have won just one of the ties, a third round match at Roker Park in 1980 with Neil Whatmore scoring the winning goal. The teams invariably meet in the third round, with five of the six ties all coming early on. The sixth was a fourth round game.
Bolton's overall leading scorer in the matches is Joe Smith with sixteen between 1911 and 1926.
The last time the teams met at The Reebok, Sunderland ran out 2-0 winners. In fact, Sunderland haven't lost at Bolton since 2008, and they have only lost twice in their last ten visits.
Don't mention the word 'bogey'
It's your actual Michael Jones, and we know something about him, being a Premier League referee. His last Bolton game was was our 2-0 loss at Newcastle last year when he booked some guy called Reo-Coker. So far this season, he has sent off two players, the latest being Samir Nasri last weekend. He has also shown the yellow card fifty five times.
Looking at the calendar, I see that this will be my last preview. So, let's have a fond farewell with a 2-1 win, shall we?
Millwall, and their misunderstood fans, come calling, next Saturday.