BOLTON

v

LIVERPOOL

The Reebok Stadium, Bolton

January 21, 2012; 17:30 BST

Ai??***

Dark clouds havenai??i??t really made for the sun at the Reebok this season. Bolton, currently 18th, are fighting hard to dismember themselves from the relegation club. Owen Coyleai??i??s side has conceded the most of number of goals in the League this season which already speaks of a leaky defense. Now with Gary Cahill moving to Chelsea, troubles at the back are likely to elevate in the coming weeks. With a problem this big, coupled with Boltonai??i??s current plight, the pressure is on Coyle to deliver results to prevent moving one floor down to the Championship. Surely, the key here should be to take each game as it comes, walk out with confidence and determination and put in all the effort for nothing less than a win. Expect the Trotters to give Liverpool a tough game if not anything else.

The curtains at Anfield are yet to be drawn as the men in suits are busy working on bringing in new faces at the club. Meanwhile, the spotlight has shifted towards other avenues like the clubai??i??s new sports kit deal with US magnate, Warrior Sports, making it the second costliest deal of all time. On the one hand, as the New Balance-owned firm prepares to stitch the Redsai??i?? shirts, the transfer-pundits at the club are coming close to signing another Portuguese star from the land of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani ai??i?? Joao Carlos Teixeira. The 19 year-old caught the eye of Rodolfo Borrell and Kenny Dalglish during Lisbonai??i??s NextGen Series encounter against Liverpool and looks like he is set to kick off his career at the land of the Beatles.

Anyway, bringing matters of the pitch to the forefront, Liverpoolai??i??s next match against Bolton comes as an opportunity to steer the ship back on course after yet another dismal draw at home against Stoke City a week ago. The Reds cannot really do much about Suarez’ absence but the truth is, the second half of the season has made the race for the fourth spot more tightly and with Newcastle gaining lead last weekend following a victory against QPR, Kenny cannot afford to make any more mistakes when it comes to squad selection and tactical layouts.

Will the King Make the Right Moves?

Chelsea and Newcastle will also be traveling this weekend to Norwich and Fulham respectively ai??i?? two teams with decent home form; and Arsenal will be up against title-contenders Manchester United. Hence, a win against the Trotters could give Liverpool an advantage over its competitors at a time when its attack looks to have lost ammo.

Team News & Tactical Brief ai??i?? Bolton

Their 2 ai??i?? 0 win over Macclesfield in the third round of the FA Cup has surely given the team a shot of confidence ahead of the Liverpool game. Bolton have a long list of injuries and Owen Coyle has earlier admitted that he might not get a chance to field his best team this season. First choice keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, Marcos Alonso, Ricardo Gardner, Tyrone Mears are missing on the defensive front while Stuart Holden, Sean Davis and Korean international Chung-Yong Lee are missing from midfield. That is surely a long list of key players missing from the pitch. Although Alonso and Davis are said to be improving and are close to a return, it is highly unlikely that they will even make the bench against Liverpool this weekend at the Reebok.

The team is surely to see a few changes in retrospect to the starting XI that came out against Macclesfield in the FA match. Steinsson is most likely to start at right-back while Zat Knight will start alongside David Wheater in the center of defense. Fabrice Muamba and Chris Eagles could start in place of Tuncay and Mark Davies in midfield alongside Reo-Coker and Petrov. And ahead of the park, 31 year-old German international Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies will pair up in an attempt to split the Redsai??i?? defense.

Bolton too, like Stoke, boast of a highly physical nature to their game. They comprise of players who arenai??i??t afraid of aerial challenges and harsh tackles, even if they are down by a tone compared to the Potters. However, the Trotters have caused troubles to several top teams in the recent past and will be banking on exercising this tactic to the fullest potential in order to squeeze points against Liverpool. The services of Steinsson, Petrov and Ricketts to Boltonai??i??s frontline will be key to netting the ball past Pepe Reina at the Reebok stadium.

Gerrard has been in fine form ever since his return to first team action which directly implies that Muamba will have an important role to play- keeping Liverpoolai??i??s captain at bay. Charlie Adam had it easy with his long, cross-field balls in the game against Stoke and will be looking to impact the match in a similar manner again. It all adds up to an interesting battle in the center of the park.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Knight, Ricketts, Eagles, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Klasnic, Davies

football formations

Probable Starting Lineups

Team News & Tactical Brief ai??i?? Liverpool

It is positive news on the injury front for the Reds. The latest update on Lucasai??i?? injury is that he will be returning from Brazil shortly after completing his knee surgery and will continue his recovery at Melwood. Also, Daniel Agger, who was ruled out of the game against Stoke due to injury makes a return to first team and will be in contention for Saturdayai??i??s game against Bolton. The only other player still with the medics is Jay Spearing who is yet to recover from his hamstring injury. This only leaves Luis Suarez, who is yet to complete his eight-match ban.

As mentioned before, Kenny needs to be really shrewd in the players he will pick from here on in the season if Liverpool is to make it into the top four ai??i?? the one ambition that they have set aside for this season. One way to get the better of a side like Bolton is to attack with pace. The likes of Downing, Johnson and Enrique could prove vital in this fixture. Bellamy could come in the second half to maintain the pace in attack.

With the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final coming up, it would probably be a better option to save a fine and fit Daniel Agger for this big game and field Coates and Skrtel in central defense. Coates was asked to feature against a testing Stoke City side last week and was quite impressive considering how Stoke go about their game. Charlie Adam, Henderson, Downing & Gerrard in the center of the park can generate that pace required to give Liverpool to the upper hand in this contest.

Andy Carroll is still a work-in-progress at his new club and will simply need more games under his belt in order to mould himself into the clubai??i??s ethos. Itai??i??s not like the ball is turning differently ever since he moved to Liverpool. He still is a quality player, a player who is good in the air and scoring from headers. We all have also witnessed the power of his left foot too. The Geordie just needs some luck going for him. A large part of the Liverpool folklore still places trust in his talent to bring something different to the table. It is just a matter of time.

Dirk Kuyt also hasnai??i??t particularly enjoyed a good season this time around and a few goals under his name in the absence of Suarez will surely do his confidence a world of good. With Kuyt and Carroll upfront, Liverpool can match to Boltonai??i??s boisterous defensive quartet and create chances on ground as well as in the air.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-1-2): Reina, Johnson, Coates, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson, Adam, Gerrard, Downing, Kuyt, Carroll

TheHardTackleai??i??s Player to Watch Out For:

Ivan Klasnic (Bolton Wanderers)

Will He Fire Again?

The former Nantes forward arrived at the Reebok over a year ago on a Bosman but has started to rise to prominence only recently. The German international has notched up eight goals so far this season and has been the silver lining in an otherwise forgettable season for Bolton. Owen Coyle will surely be hoping to see his name on the score sheet, just like he did against Liverpool in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Ivan Klasnic is, our ai???Player to Watch Out Forai??i??.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Prediction:

Bolton 0 ai??i?? 1 Liverpool

Although it isnai??i??t right, a natural mindset has now developed in the Liverpool camp. Their away form is turning out to be better than their home form. Consequentially, the players will feel confident going into this fixture. However, the lack of firepower upfront wouldnai??i??t probably fill their bags with goals. Nonetheless, a Liverpool victory seems to be the most likely result at the Reebok.

TheHardTackleai??i??s Blast from the Past:

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