Bolton Wanderers (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 31st January 2009


Tottenham visit the land where the supporters are thick and pathetic according to their manager Gary Megson, who they have never seemed to have taken to.  It is a crucial game in the fight for both sides to keep away from the bottom of the table, with a number of other games over the weekend featuring clashes between sides in the lower half of the league.  A winner in this match could see them climb to tenth in the Premier League, although it would still be within reach of a couple of wins by the other sides below them.

Spurs go into the match on the back of their 3-1 win, when they were pegged back by a goal in the second half, while the Trotters have more to worry about, having lost a two goal lead in the final minutes away at Blackburn.  And they face Spurs having sold captain Kevin Nolan Newcastle. 

As usual with Bolton, regardless of the manager, players come and go and this transfer window is no exception, with players you have never heard of being snapped up by Bolton.  Makukula, Puygrenier, Bogdan, Mark Davies ... all names that stumble off the tongue and rack the brain to try and remember if you have heard their name mentioned before. 

Ariza Makukula has come in on loan from Benfica and the striker will be looking to add some firepower to the attack in the absence of Johan Elmander, who is out injured.  Davies is a young midfielder, who was signed form Wolverhampton Wanderers on a permanent deal and his industry should fit in well with Bolton's work ethic.  Sebastien Puygrenier is a strapping 6' defender who is on loan at the Reebok from Zenit St. Petersburg, while Bogdan is a goalkeeper signed from Vasa Budapest, but at 21 he is seen as one for the future and will be back up for Jussi Jaaskelainen and Ali Al-Habsi. 

Lastly, Tope Obadeyi is an England Under-19 international, who has come through the youth ranks at the Reebok and has been promoted to the first team squad, as Bolton are a little light up front.  Kevin Davies is still there, making a physical impression on the opposition defence, but also being able to appear in the right place at the right time to get on the score-sheet, so Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate will need to keep him in their vision for a couple of reasons.  Polish striker Ebi Smolarek has been disappointed recently to be edged out of contention for a place in the side when changes have been made and newcomers have jumped ahead of him in Megson's reckoning.  A well-travelled forward or attacking midfielder, Smolarek has played in the Polish national side and is skilful enough to make chances for others.

Young midfielder Chris Basham is an energetic worker, who was signed from Newcastle United and has been out on loan to get experience, before making his debut in November 2008.  Also available to Megson are Mustapha Riga, who is a pacy wide midfielder in the mould of Ricardo Gardner, who is also still at the Reebok.  Both are quick, but sometimes allow the final ball to undo the good work they have done getting into a position to cross.  In the middle of midfield Patrice Muamba will play and he adds the steel to the middle section of the team, with the mobility to get forward and back to support and cover.  Mark Davies has been put straight into the team, so he will be out to impress and will be a bit of an unknown to Tottenham, but the Spurs midfield will need to track his runs and be aware of his ability.

The defence has been pretty tight this season, with Juusi Jasskelainen regaining the goalkeeper's gloves and producing some good saves, but there have been times when he has not been at his best.  We have seen that he is a good shot-stopper in the past, but he can be suspect on one-on-ones and taking crosses are not always his strongest suit.  Ali Al-Habsi is another good up-coming keeper, who got a run last season, but has dropped back to the number two keeper at the club, ousting Ian Walker who has left Wanderers.

In front of the keeper, J Lloyd Samuel, Gretar Steinsson, Gary Cahill, Andy O'Brien and Matthew Taylor make up the defence.  Samuel and Taylor both like to get forward, with them interchanging with the midfielders, but if Spurs play Aaron Lennon, this will restrict their ability to push too far forward for fear that they will be caught too far up-field to catch the little winger.  Steinsson is a towering central defender and usually takes the first ball, while Cahill, who is also good in the air, tends to play just off him.  Both can be useful in attack at dead-ball situations, but both lack the blistering pace and being quick on the turn needed to be top central defenders, so Jermain Defoe might have some success if he takes them on.  Puygrenier might well replace Taylor at full back and allow the ex-Pompey man to push into midfield, where he is most dangerous from long range and free-kicks with his powerful shot.  Another option in the centre of defence is another former Magpie, Andy O'Brien, who Redknapp will know from Fratton Park.  A whole-hearted player who will put himself in the way of anything going forward, but lacks pace and can be dragged away from his station with good movement.  Danny Shittu - a signing from Watford - is also in the squad for Bolton, but he has been out of favour and has been linked with a move away from the North-West, so it might only be a last resort that the Bolton boss picks him.

With Bolton sitting in the position just below Tottenham in the league table, it is a great opportunity to put a bit more daylight between Spurs and the bottom.  Our away form has not been great, but we need to start changing that if we want to climb the table and if we want to start next season in the right manner.  It won't be a great game, but I hope that an early goal will help put Tottenham in the mood to play like they did against Stoke City in the first half on Tuesday ...

PREDICTION : -  Bolton Wanderers  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


BOLTON WANDERERS :  -  Ricardo Vaz Te (knee); Gavin McCann (ankle); Joey O'Brien (thigh); Johan Elmander (-); Nicky Hunt (hamstring); - (-);  - (-);  - (-);

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Ledley King (hamstring); Jamie O'Hara (groin); Heurelho Gomes (thigh); - (-); - (-); 


Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.20  (highlights)  [repeated at 07:40 Sunday]
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Bolton Wanderers   3   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Reebok Stadium
Saturday 31st January 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   21,575
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Tottenham kicked off
Weather :  -  Very cold, dry
Teams : - 
Bolton Wanderers :

22  Jaaskelainen

  3  Samuel
15  Steinsson
  5  Cahill
18  Puygrenier  (
31  O'Brien 74)

  7  Taylor
16 Mark Davies
  6  Muamba
11  Gardner

14  Kevin Davies (c)
21  Makukula  (
10  Smolarek 61)

Unused subs: 
21  Al-Habsi
17  Riga
24  Shittu
30  Basham
35  Obadeyi

Tottenham Hotspur :

23  Cudicini

22  Corluka  (21  Chimbonda 67) 
20  Dawson     
39  Woodgate
32  Assou-Ekotto

  5  Bentley
  4  Zokora
  (  8  Jenas 46)
14  Modric
  (10  Bent 46)
12  Palacios
  7  Lennon

  9  Pavlyuchenko

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  3  Bale
  6  Huddlestone
18  Campbell

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Bolton Wanderers

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Bolton Wanderers

Puygrenier 31
K. Davies 64
K. Davies 85

Tottenham Hotspur

Bent 72
Bent 74

Cards : -  
Bolton Wanderers



Tottenham Hotspur 

Dawson (foul)  49   


Match Report : -  
Another one half performance by Spurs was undone by slack marking at set-pieces and it was Bolton who took advantage of that to win 3-2 after being pegged back when 2-0 ahead.

A gutless first half let Bolton take the initiative and then a goal against the run of play made it 0-2, but Spurs showed some fighting spirit, with which they are not usually associated, only to concede yet another late away goal to condemn them to a pointless trip home.  With Arsenal at home next week, the game would have been one which needed to have yielded all three points for Tottenham.

It all started well and like the Stoke game, an early goal could have put Tottenham on the way to victory, but when David Bentley hit a third minute effort from very long range, it bounced just in front of Jaaskelainen and he had to parry the ball away from goal for a corner.  It was to be the of many corners in the game for Spurs, but unlike our opponents, we made little from them. 

One dead ball situation saw Matthew Taylor's left foot play the ball into the Tottenham box in the ninth minute, with Kevin Davies getting a head to it and the ball flew over to serve as a warning of what might be coming.  Pavlyuchenko replied in kind at the other end with a flicked header on Bentley's free-kick, but it went wide before Davies was first to Jaaskelainen's kick up-field and Makukula got on the end of it, but hit his shot horribly wide.

New signing Mark Davies was putting himself about a bit in midfield and showed a desire to get into the area, when he met Steinsson's cross, but his header from around the penalty spot was wide.  In the 25th minute, Spurs had a good opening, with Bentley getting on the end of Lennon's ball across goal and the Bolton goalie did well to block the ex-Blackburn man's left footed shot.  Sometimes, Tottenham are their own worse enemies, in trying to play too much football.  When Cudicini rolled the ball out to Corluka, he was not even looking and as Gardner took the ball to move forward, the Croat made a recovery tackle to stop his progress.

Wilson Palacios had made his debut by taking his place in a five man midfield, leaving Roman Pavlyuchenko alone up front to battle away on his own - never a good tactic and one I thought Harry might have learned about by now.  Unfortunately, for all Palacios' talents, his tackling isn't always the greatest and when he flew into Davies, Dowd gave a free-kick, leaving Taylor to put it in with a bit of whip on it, finding Puygrenier to head home past Cudicini to give Wanderers a 34th minute lead.  On a cold day in the North, a place anywhere above Hertfordshire, where Spurs never do well, it was perhaps the last thing the team needed.

The build-up by Tottenham was a little predictable, as they had not got the speed to get past Bolton in numbers and if the long ball was played over the top, Pav isn't the quickest or most robust to get to the ball and hold onto it.  However, he did just that just before half time and alone, he chose to hit a shot from outside the box that Jaaskelainen saved comfortably.  In added time, Bentley's free-kick did cause a bit of a scramble in front of the home goal, with Assou-Ekotto having a shot blocked in the melee before it was kicked away and the half time whistle blew.

The system just wasn't working and Bolton had stopped Modric being the kingpin that the Spurs moves were rotated around, as Harry had so kindly told the world, so Muamba's only job was to stop him playing.  Oh, he did get away from that task on one occasion to hit a shot really wide.  Changes were needed at the break and Harry didn't disappoint, with Jenas and Bent coming on for Zokora and Modric to make life a bit more difficult for Bolton at the back.

There is no doubt that the changes made some effect, with the better of the second half being Tottenham's, although Bolton did enough in the end to guarantee the win.  Makukula had the best chance at the start of the second half when Steinsson threw a long throw into the box and picking up the bits from the clearance, the Portuguese striker managed to get the ball over the bar from inside the penalty area.  It was his last act in the game, with Ebi Smolarek coming on to replace him.

Pavlyuchenko was making more runs with someone alongside him to help and when A diagonal ball came to him, he let it come over his shoulder and struck a volley that the home keeper saved, but he might have done better putting the ball back into an area where it might have been more of a problem for Bolton.  Within a couple of minutes a free-kick for handball against Assou-Ekotto handed Wanderers a 2-0 lead, as the ball wasn't properly cleared and when it came back into the area in the second phase, Samuel and Cahill set it up for Kevin Davies to shoot across Cudicini and into the net.

It all looked over and done with, with Smolarek trying an ambitious overhead kick soon after, but it went straight at Carlo in goal.  Corluka never looks like he can run properly at the best of times, but his gait indicated something was wrong and Pascal Chimbonda came on for the first game of his second spell at the club.  And he made quite an impression, with a hand in the move that produced a lifeline for Tottenham.  Lennon played him in down the line and his ball in from the right found Darren Bent six yards out, making it easy for him to knock the ball past Jaaskelainen.

It gave encouragement to the Tottenham team and within two minutes they were level.  Once more Chimbonda marauded up the right wing and when he crossed, the ball came out to the edge of the box, where Palacios was waiting to smash a shot on goal, forcing the keeper to dive to keep it out.  He could only put it into Bent's path and the striker stuck away the loose ball to make it 2-2.  The momentum was now with Tottenham and Bolton were rocking.  Their players looked at each other for an answer to what had happened and the crowd had gone quiet.

Spurs continued to push forward and the game could have become stretched, but no clear goalscoring chances were made, until a corner was conceded with three minutes of normal time remaining and Taylor landed it on Kevin Davies' head to power it past Bentley on the post.  It was, once more, poor marking and it cost more the team points that we need at the moment.

There was one last chance to get in the Bolton area and Chimbonda was freed in a good position on the right wing, but this time his cross flew over everyone and behind for a goal-kick that signalled the final whistle.  It was a bold effort to get back into the game, but once we had got there, we did not think about retaining what we had.

It is getting to the stage where we need to win games away from home, but with our lack of concentration and lack of belief, that is becoming less likely.  We won't stay up is we have to rely on our home form either, so something has got to change.  We can't defend, so why persist with one up front in away games ?  Leave Modric out in away matches, if the other side are going to put some great lummox on him and that at least will mean we have two men in attack to occupy their defenders.






Reaction : -



Just cannot do it can we.  Get yourself back in a game that was dead and buried to be undone by another set piece - pathetic, useless , abysmal.

I'm not even gonna watch the Carling Cup final; it will be a cricket score.

New manager please.


How many times will Spurs get done late in the game and from dead ball situations ?

Harry might have made everyone laugh when he spoke about Palacios not fitting in at the club because he tackles.  Was Redknapp laughing when the new signing gave away the free-kick that lead to the first goal.

Like Stoke, you know what you are going to get from Bolton and to play straight into their hands is naive at the very least.

Everyone says Tottenham are too good to go down, but we are not too good at defending to go down.






Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 0 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Aston Villa 0 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Fulham 3 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Hull City 2 West Bromwich Albion 2 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Manchester City 0 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Everton 0 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0 Sunday
Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 23 16 5 2 40 10 53 +30
2 Liverpool 24 14 9 1 39 15 51 +24
3 Chelsea 24 14 6 4 44 15 48 +29
4 Aston Villa 24 14 6 4 38 24 48 +14
5 Arsenal 24 12 7 5 38 26 43 +13
6 Everton 24 10 7 7 31 28 37 +3
7 Wigan Athletic 24 9 6 9 25 23 33 +2
8 West Ham United 24 9 6 9 31 31 33 0
9 Fulham 22 7 8 7 22 19 29 +3
10 Manchester City 23 8 4 11 41 32 28 +9
11 Hull City 24 7 7 10 31 46 28 -15
12 Bolton Wanderers 24 8 3 13 27 34 27 -7
13 Sunderland 24 7 6 11 25 33 27 -8
14 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 24 6 6 12 26 31 24 -5
15 Portsmouth 23 6 6 11 23 38 24 -15
16 Newcastle United 24 5 9 10 30 40 24 -10
17 Stoke City 24 6 6 12 21 38 24 -17
18 Blackburn Rovers 23 5 7 10 27 38 23 -11
19 Middlesbrough 24 5 7 12 18 35 22 -17
20 West Bromwich Albion 24 6 4 14 22 44 22 -22

Position before the match :   13th
Position after the match :   14th
Position after the weekend :   14th

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