Tottenham Hotspur vs Bolton Wanderers: Preview & Predicted Score
Oh the joys of being a Tottenham Hotspur fan. Everything was going so well, unbeaten in 10 league games, winning 9 and top of the Premier League form table with very hushed mutterings of a title challenge. All that stood between us and another routine Premier League win was a home match against a European team whose name resembles that scrabble world your Dad pulled out of the bag, which vaguely resembled cheating. Yet here we stand. After a shattering loss to the current 5th best team in Greece all those old Spurs instincts have come back.
pIs this the beginning of the inevitable collapse? That horrible sense of anxiety when we’re 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go and our opponent has a corner haunts us, worried we’ll suddenly remember this season’s run has been a sick dream and revert back to the Spurs of old… But it isn’t, we are 3rd with a game in hand, we’ve made our best start to a league campaign since we won the double 50 years ago and some of our players are on a list in every top managers desk draw with a big ‘?’ aside their name. I’m confused though, we are all but out of Europe yet I find myself not that bothered. Yes it’s an inconvenience to lose an outlet to give our reserve and youth players some games, and it’s a trophy that we would have liked to win, but it seems a small price to pay if it helps us cement a top 4 spot at the end of the season.
With that we look to our match against Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane, incredibly our first 3pm Saturday fixture at home this season. The big fear is that Wednesday’s result may knock our momentum. In Modric, Lennon, Defoe, Walker and Bale, half of our outfield side that started against West Brom either began the game or featured and unfortunately tasted that bitter pill of defeat. We are generally excellent at home, especially in the league and against Bolton we have a record of 6 wins and a draw in our last 7 home match ups with The Trotters. Thanks to Opta I can also tell you that we have lost 1 of our last 22 home games in the league whilst Bolton have lost 15 of their last 18 away games, winning 2.
Whilst statistics can promise everything and mean nothing, those who attend WHL every week will know that there is something special brewing on that pitch. The feelings of expectation I feel when I get to the ground these days is like nothing I’ve experienced before – I believe its called confidence. We no longer have to fear the special weapons the opposition may have, because we know that if we play our football, even the best clubs have to spend just as much time worrying about our artillery and guile before they can think about unleashing theirs.
I actually have a lot of time for Bolton these days. They’ve moved on from the hoof tactics of Big Sam, as well as the anti football Megson brought to the table. Under Owen Coyle they try to play with the ball and really give it a go. Yes they still use the big lump of Kevin Davies as their focal point of attack, but he has to be respected. A crafty old fox at 34, when given the right service he is as effective a target man as there is in the Premier League. It has to be noted that Bolton are going through a horrendous injury crisis to an already thin squad, one which has stifled Coyle’s attempt to truly change the ethos of how they play.
So it comes down to how our loss on Wednesday has affected the mood in the camp and the mindset of some of the players who strived for the win but couldn’t find that goal. Given the state of Bolton and our current league form, I don’t think it is outlandish to suggest that if we turn up we should be looking at a strong home win. However we also know that we have that awful ability at any time to become the Tottenham of old again and struggle to break down well marshalled and disciplined sides – being hit on the break or from a set piece is certainly not out of the question. The bonus that Rafael Van der Vaart is fit and included in the match squad should help us. His creativity combined with his free licence to do as he pleases works well for us, especially at home (unless he’s in right midfield…). Hopefully Adebayor has rested up and is focused on continuing his good recent form; having played the 90 minutes on Wednesday, Defoe is likely to return to the bench.
I believe this season is going to signal a shift in the sands of the Premier League hierarchy. A big club is going to miss out on the Champions League at our expense, I have no doubt about that. This club has been looked after prudently, we have a chairman who has grown over time and is now strong enough to stick with his convictions and a manager who can get the best out of our creative talents by letting them go out and play as they know best. Referring back to Opta again, this is the fifth time in Premier League history that we’ve won five matches in a row, we’ve never won 6. This is a season to show the world (and more importantly the other big PL clubs) we mean business and I firmly expect us to smash this record to carry on our good form.
I’m going for 2-0. Bolton will be hard to break down and work nonstop for the 90. Brad Friedel will have to stay focussed with their aerial threat always a factor but I expect us to wear them down with a Lennon and Adebayor double whammy.
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