16th April 2011
Virtually nobody expected the two teams to reach the final stage of the competition, but as things now stand Bolton and Stoke will be fighting for a place in the FA Cup final. Both sides have really impressed this season and everything suggests we will see a very good game at Wembley.
The past decade has been very difficult for Bolton fans as they had to watch their side battle for survival every single season, so they can be forgiven for feeling as if they have hit the jackpot this term with Owen Coyle’s team pretty impressive in most of the games this season. Instead of fighting for their lives, the Trotters are now battling for European berths and a place in the FA Cup final, which goes to show how well the team have done this term. Bolton enter this match high on confidence after trashing West Ham 3:0 at the weekend, while their impressive form on the travels should help them a great deal at Wembley. The Trotters beat Wigan, Fulham and Birmingham away to reach the FA Cup semis, and this record certainly gives them reason for optimism. Owen Coyle will not be able to count on Daniel Sturridge, but Mark Davies returns after recovering from an ankle problem.
Stoke have done what not too many sides had done before them as the Potters managed to become a genuine mid table team immediately upon gaining promotion to the Premier League and the best thing is that the success was achieved with minimum investment into the playing squad. For the third season running, the Potters are involved in the relegation dogfight and that helped Tony Pulis lead his side all the way to the FA Cup semi-final. Stoke now need to produce a very good performance in order to eliminate very good Bolton side, but playing at Wembley could be a problem for Potters as they tend to struggle every time they leave their Britannia Stadium. After losing 12 out of 16 away games in the Premiership this term, Stoke certainly cannot be considered favourites in this clash. Danny Higginbotham misses out through injury, but John Carew should be fit to play. Thomas Sorensen will start between the sticks, with Asmir Begovic relegated to the bench.
Bolton have shown much more than Stoke this season, especially on the travels and since the game will be played at neutral ground that could play a big part. The Trotters have outplayed much stronger sides than Stoke this term and I really believe they have what it takes to make it to the final.
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