Reebok Stadium, Greater Manchester
September 26, 2010; 4:30 PM IST – Live on ESPN
Bolton Wanderers welcome the Red Devils – their Lancashire rivals – to the Reebok Stadium in what promises to be a fiesty derby affair. Presumably, the form book goes out of the window in a derby. However, this match has largely defied derby laws, and gone according to the script. Manchester United have dominated this fixture in seasons gone by and normal service is expected to continue this Sunday. Bolton, on the other hand, should find comfort in their good home form and United’s mediocre away results, characterised by throwing away leads. With title rivals Chelsea facing their toughest test of the season so far in Manchester, this represents an opportunity for United to close in the gap should the Blues falter at the Eastlands.
A Worried man..
Bolton have had a struggling start to the season having won just one of their five games in the league. Although, they have lost only once in the league this season – a 4-1 defeat at the Emirates, manager Owen Coyle would have ideally liked another win under his belt, considering his side has not yet faced any of the top teams thus far in the campaign.
Trotters’ appeal over Gary Cahill’s suspension was rejected, and consequently, the defender will miss the clash with United on Sunday. Kevin Davis and Jussi Jaaskelainen return after serving their own suspensions and are expected to be back in the starting line-up. Ricardo Gardner, Andrew O’Brien, and Jlloyd Samuel are doubtful for the game.
United, on the other hand, have thrown away leads in the two away games this season. Last week’s thrilling win over Liverpool has steadied their season to an extent, but with Chelsea already four points ahead and threatening to run away in the title race, anything less than a win would be detrimental to United’s title aspirations, even this early in the season. Sir Alex will be hoping for another good performance from his players, who will be willing to improve on their already impressive record at the Reebok Stadium.
Frustrated with his form
With an eye on the upcoming Champions League game against Valencia, Sir Alex might opt to rest some of his players for this game. Rooney’s form has been a concern and his manager could opt to rest him in order to keep him away from the spotlight. Rio Ferdinand has recovered from the illness that had kept him out against Liverpool and is expected to start his first league game this season. Anderson could also start the game if Scholes is rested. Michael Carrick has started training but will not be involved at the Reebok Stadium. Owen Hargreaves has also returned to training after his lengthy lay-off, but will be gradually brought back in the first team.
Probable Starting Line-ups
Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Paul Robinson, Steinsson, Petrov, Elmander, Muamba, Holden, Lee Chung-Yong, Davies
Key Match Facts
1) United have won 10 of their last 11 meetings against Bolton and have lost only once at the Reebok.
2) Kevin Davies has been booked 8 times against United.
3) Rooney scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Reebok which was back in October ’06.
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Dimitar Berbatov (Man United)
Considering the form that he is in, Bulgarian Berbatov is the player to watch. His blazing start to the season, including his stunning hat-trick last week, has made a lot of critics eat their words. With Rooney in terrible form, Berbatov’s brilliance has helped United remain within touching distance to Chelsea. He was THT’s man to watch last week, and he is THT’s man to watch this week.
Bolton 1-3 Manchester United
United’s defence has been leaky this season to say the least. Bolton will get a goal but the Red Devils will see this one through comfortably.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST