A beleaguered Chelsea face Owen Coyle’s struggling Bolton Wanderers at home this Saturday looking to improve upon a poor run of form that has seen no wins in the last five in all competitions. The pressure is now most certainly on Andre Villas-Boas, with certain sections of the support calling for his head and the media overhyping his struggles and talking of much derision and disillusionment in the camp, much of wish manifested from some of the more senior members of the squad being left out of Tuesday’s 3-1 reverse in Naples. Saturday’s line up will be very interesting indeed.
A win against the Trotters would do much to exert some of that pressure, as it did last December when a 1-0 win thanks to a Malouda strike took some of the gloss off poor Christmas performances, and take Chelsea, at least momentarily before the two North London clubs meet on Sunday, back into the top four. Bolton themselves are under extreme pressure, fighting for their lives in 19th places just a point off bottom and also a point off safety in what looks like being a keenly fought relegation battle. They have not had a very happy campaign, although they still remain in the F.A. Cup after sealing their place in the last eight with a 2-0 win at Millwall last weekend.
Bolton was a team we used to struggle against at times, even at home. A 2-1 defeat in the 03/04 season was followed by draws in the next two seasons, although our fortunes against the North West club have improved in recent years and Bolton have not now beat us in their last 16 premier league games against us. Having said that the last three times we have beaten them at home it has been by a one goal margin, a particularly memorable game being the 4-3 towards the end of the 2008/09 season. We look back at fondness with fixtures against Bolton as we won the league there in 2005, with Frank Lampard, who has scored more against Bolton than any other team(11) with only Robbie Fowler(12) scoring more Premier League goals against them than him, scoring both on that memorable day.
This game could of course see Gary Cahill face his old club so soon after leaving them to join the Blues. It is likely he will be partnered at centre back with David Luiz, as John Terry has been ruled out for six weeks. One of the key decisions Andre has to make is whether to go with Torres or Drogba up front, after Drogba didn’t exactly shine midweek. Although Chelsea have found it difficult to score at times lately, the fact Bolton have only kept one clean sheet on their last 38 league games may give our forward line some hope. The fact we have only kept two clean sheets in our last eleven displays that this could be a fairly high scoring game.