31st December 2010
Liverpool are looking to make amends for the shock defeat to Wolves, although they would rather be facing some other team than Bolton. The Trotters proved their quality at Stamford Bridge, albeit suffering an unlucky defeat to Chelsea and Owen Coyle’s side hope they will have more luck this time around.
Liverpool endured some tough times under Rafa Benitez during his five-year reign at Anfield, but it seems things really started taking the wrong turn when Roy Hodgson was appointed to replace the Spaniard. The season is by no means over for the Reds as they will have exactly 20 games to improve their league position but looking at how the team are playing at the moment, European qualification looks like a mission impossible for the Reds. Back to back defeats to Newcastle and Wolves are the perfect proof that Liverpool are playing way below the expectations this season, especially as both defeats were more than deserved. The Reds showed absolutely no improvement even when Steven Gerrard returned to the side and I really can’t quite comprehend why they are considered favourites against a very good Bolton side. Considering the current situation, it is almost clear that Steven Gerrard will start this game despite being exhausted after playing full 90 minutes against Wolves, while Joe Cole is doubtful with an ankle injury. Jamie Carragher and Jay Spearing remain on the sidelines.
Owen Coyle may be traveling to Liverpool with just 15 senior players but he can still feel optimistic about his side’s chances in this clash. The talented manager has completely revived the Trotters this season, and after quite a while, Bolton are much closer to the European places than the bottom three. The Trotters deserved every single point they have won this season and that should be their biggest satisfaction. Even a side like Chelsea needed a smile from the Lady Luck as well as the help from the man in black in order to beat Bolton at home, and that just goes to show how well Owen Coyle’s side are playing at the moment. The boss faces major selection problems with Robinson, Lee, Cohen, Davis, O’Brien, Gardner and Samuel all unavailable, and Holden and Steinsson doubtful, but he should still be able to field a very strong side, capable of getting something from this match.
Liverpool are all over the place at the moment and their recent performances give them no reason to hope for a good result against Bolton. The Trotters, on the other hand, once again showed they can match every side in the league and I believe they can get at least one point from this match.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 13/5