English Premier League – Bolton 2011 Preview
In the Bolton Wanderers’ final game of the 2010 season, a FA Cup semi-final, the Wanderers were embarrassed by Stoke City in a 5-0 defeat. And so goes Bolton’s season, year after year, finishing near the bottom of the table.
Will this season be any different?
Odds to win the Premiership outright 2500/1
The year was a complete wash for the Wanderers in 2010, but this season they will try to redeem themselves by surprising their fans in 2011.
Their season will start out tough; in fact, they have one of the toughest first three months of any team that finished out of the top four, as they will face Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, all between Aug. 21 and Oct. 2.
If they can survive that stretch without a total meltdown, they will put themselves in a great position going into the rest of the season. The Trotters been known for showing up against the league’s top teams in the past, so it won’t be past them to do so, but nonetheless it is a very daunting feat they will be trying to achieve.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the side will say goodbye to midfielder Lee Chung-Yong after he suffered a double fracture in his lower right leg during a preseason friendly. Chung-Yong, considered the team’s best midfielder scoring three goals and six assists a season ago, will be out for the next nine months minimum.
They’re losses don’t end there though. The team had a lot of departures during the summer including forward Johan Elmander, who scored ten goals in his 37 league games in 2010-11. Elmander was the team’s most consistent striker last year, and the team will miss him.
The side does however have a decent midfield and strike force despite their injury woes and transfers.
Fabrice Muamba will no doubt be the centerpiece of the midfield with the loss of Chung-Yong, and he has shown he can step up when his team needs him. The most intriguing piece of the midfield is 26-year-old Stuart Holden who will be returning from a brutal injury to take his spot in the staring XI on opening day.
Up front, the team has a duo that can strike fear into the eyes of opposing keepers when they are running at 100-percent.
Midfielder Martin Petrov is a consistent crosser who consistently gets the ball to the side, and Kevin Davies has a knack for finished said crosses.
It will be interesting to see if Davies, who is 34 now, will still be able to play at the level that he is known for. If he can’t, the team will need to find someone else, because Davies is the centerpiece to everything they do.
This team has a grueling start to get through, but even if they get through it they will be hard pressed to finish in the top half. I don’t expect them to come out of that schedule looking pretty, so I wouldn’t count on them doing anything special in terms of the final table.
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