On Saturday Manchester United take a short trip to take on a Bolton Wanderers, who are now surely safe from a relegation scrap.
In the reverse fixture earlier in October United won 2-1. We took an early lead with a Zat Knight own and later in the half Antonio Valencia grabbed his first goal for Man United. We absolutely battered Bolton for during the game creating several great chances to score the third goal which would have killed the game off. As so often happens we conceded a late goal, Bolton were a constant threat thereafter as we barely survived with our goal intact. Kevin Davies bullied our defence us that day, a real thorn in the side and man to watch out for today. The battle between Nemanja Vidic and Davies will be a good battle – I fancy our man to come out on top.
Bolton’s manager in that game was Gary Megson, known as the “Ginger Mourinho” by Bolton fans (I’m guessing their tongues were firmly in their cheeks). Since then Bolton have had a change in manager with Owen Coyle taking over the reins.
Many people called Owen Coyle’s move from Burnley to Bolton a sideways step (both teams hovering around relegation zone); I never saw it that way. Bolton have been a Premier League club for a number of years whilst this is Burnley’s first year in the top flight for many a year. With a relatively new stadium Bolton have the potential to be a bigger club, certainly on a par with the likes of Stoke City in mid table safety rather than fighting a relegation scrap. Owen Coyle has changed Bolton’s style of play; Bolton have transformed into a passing team mainly thanks to the talented Jack Wilshere and Chung-Yong Lee. With victories over teams also in a relegation battle (West Ham United & Wigan Athletic) surely Coyle’s move has been justified and can no longer be considered a sideways move?
With two big games against Bayern Munich and Chelsea on the horizon I think team selection will be interesting. There have been rumours all week Rooney is struggling with a knee injury only for Sir Alex Ferguson to deny this in his press conference on Friday. Whether Rooney is fit or not I would prefer if he started the match on the bench, although Bolton will be a tough game I’d like to think we have to win the match without Rooney.
I think we’ll play a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation with Berbatov as the lone front man. The back five virtually selects itself, however I’d prefer Rafael to start rather than Neville allowing Neville to be fresh for the big games approaching.
Ideally I would like Fletcher and Park to be rested – therefore a central midfield of Scholes, Carrick and perhaps Giggs. Giggs needs game time after his recent injury so I would like to see him play at least 60 minutes. Leaving Valencia and Nani on the wings.
I’m plumbing for a 2-0 victory for United with Berbatov and Nani the goal scorers.
Unusually, the three title challengers are playing on the same day. It may well turn out to be an interesting day with Arsenal (v Birmingham) and Chelsea (v Aston Villa) having tough fixtures. Unfortunately, Birmingham’s form of a couple of months ago has dropped somewhat since their incredible run. For our sake let’s hope Birmingham can recapture their early season form. Aston Villa looks a tired team, struggling again to cope with the end of season run in. I can see nothing more than a Chelsea victory today.
With the evening kick we could have an advantage or disadvantage. If Chelsea and Arsenal both win there will be huge pressure on us, if either team drop points it will be a real spurt.
What do you think?