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Bolton Match Preview: Team News & Prediction

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You’ll be pleased to know after our midweek Champions League exploits we’re travelling to a ground where we’ve had some success and a good record in the premier league. Oh wait, hang on. That’s not true at all. Dammit. Spurs have won only one of the last 9 games we’ve played at the Reebok, with the last league win coming in 1996. That’s 14 years ago and I was barely out of pampers. OK I was 17 but I was a late developer. Anyway, tomorrow’s the perfect time to readdress that record.

All the players should be on a massive high. A confidence level should be running through them similar to that of late last season when we beat Arsenal and Chelsea. There’s no hiding the fact we haven’t played that well in the league so far and the season’s been very much a stop, start one. One week we’ll perform well and get a result that makes you think we’ll move on from there but the following week we slip up at West Ham or Wigan or even United.

Is it too much to ask that we play like we did on Tuesday night every game? Personally I don’t think it is. Of course you’re going to have off days and come up against tougher opposition or more disciplined opposition but we’ve seen too many times a slow start, leading to going a goal down and making life difficult for ourselves. This has to stop if we want to get back into the top 4 again come May. Bolton is a really tough place to go and Owen Coyle has got them playing well again. When I say well, I mean grinding out results. They’re certainly not as bad on the eye as they were under Allardyce and our defence will have to be aware of the odd quick triangle but their main threat is from the long ball to Kevin Davies.

Ah, Mr Davies. England’s newest cap holder. A thorn in our side in recent times, scoring 4 goals in the last 3 home games. I like him. This is slightly controversial but I thought in the summer we could’ve made a cheeky bid and sent Keane the other way, possibly paying half of Keanes wages too. He would’ve been a better option than the Irishman is. Either way, he’ll be up to his normal tricks tomorrow but I would expect Gallas and Kaboul to thrive on that. If one of those doesn’t play, they’ll be replaced by Bassong who’s not exactly a shrinking violet either. You know what you’re going to get from Bolton, so there should be no surprises. No longer are they a one man team with only Plan A though. With the likes of Elmander, who’s hit some good form this season, Lee, Klasnic and Taylor they’ve got players we need to be wary off.

There should be plenty of goals tomorrow and I expect it to be an end to end flowing match. When isn’t it when we’re involved? Neither team can defend, both having only kept one clean sheet all season. I’ve got a sneaking feeling that might change for us tomorrow. I saw a huge improvement in the defence on Tuesday night. They might not have been completely water tight but they, along with the help of Huddlestone, managed to restrict Inter Milan to shots from outside the area which is all you can ask really. At least until they switched off for the Eto’o goal that is.

Onto our two men of the moment. Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart. I can’t see Coyle being as naive as Benitez was midweek so expect their right back and right midfielder to be close to Bale when he has the ball. If this happens, as it did against Everton, I’m assuming we’ll have worked on a plan B in training by now. Ekotto is more than comfortable to come forward. He may not have the end product that Bale does but he can offer an outlet on a regular basis. Simple 1-2′s with Bale should allow him to lose at least one of those markers. Then there’s Modric who can also come out to the left to help out. We’ve got so many options to help Bale out if he’s crowded.

This week has seen Bale’s name littered all over the press and rightly so for his performances against Inter, but let’s not get carried away. Is he a great prospect and fantastic to watch? Without doubt but does he do it every week or even every other week? Not really. Just looking at the 10 league games we’ve played at the moment and for one reason or another I can only think of Stoke away where he played particularly well and that’s not just because of this goals. There have been a couple of games like West Brom where Redknapp in his wisdom played him at left back so it’s not really fair to comment on those, although he did nothing wrong in those games or any others for that matter, but he hasn’t been match winning. Maybe I’m asking too much? He’ll need to work on his game to stop being so easy to mark out of it, as we as a team will have to work to make sure we get him free or manage to get the ball to someone else unmarked. Just look at Everton a couple of weeks ago. All the credit is going to Neville for keeping him quiet but it was a combination of him and Coleman. United last week, Rafael managed to do the same for the most part. He’s a fantastic player, no doubt about it but world class or the 2nd best player in the world as I saw in one reputable paper this week? Not even close, but he has the potential and I hope he realises that at Spurs. I see him in the Ronaldo role personally and I’d like to see him pushed even further forward than he gets now.

Anyway, enough about boy wonder. What about middle aged footballer wonder. Rafa may not play tomorrow and if that’s the case it’s going to be interesting to see how we do. In the league since he joined he’s almost single handedly grabbed the team by the scruff of the neck, kicking and screaming to some valuable points. If his inspiration is lost who will step up to the plate? Bale’s the obvious candidate given his form and confidence but I’ve already said how easy he’s been marked out of games. It could be up to Modric and Lennon, both of whom are starting to come back into form. I thought Lennon was very good in both games against Inter but faded into the background as the rest of the team did in comparison to the brilliance of Bale. If Bale isn’t on form and it’s just not happening, it’s time Lennon took up the mantel. He’s just as exciting as Bale is to watch when running at full pace although maybe not quite as devastating.

So that’s if vdV doesn’t play. If he does I’d expect much of the same as we’ve seen so far this season but hopefully with the same attitude we started the Inter game with. Get to the ball first, hassle the opposition, win the ball high up the pitch, keep possession, create chances, work for each other and most of all take the chances we create (are you listening strikers?). Do that and we should cruise this fixture.

I’ve been saying for a while now that if we can put all our good points together and play well for 90 minutes we’ll produce something special. I think Tuesday might’ve been it, but it could also just be normality and the special is yet to come. Please no more United type displays. Just watch the Inter game, copy and paste.

My prediction: 2-0 Spurs COYS




    November 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    You have missed out Petrov and the one thing we never had against Everton was the missing link Huddleston he would have stopped Everton doubling up on Bale because he can switch the ball from Lennon to Bale if teams double uo on both this would be four players marking two players leaving more room for Hudds and Modric. This was not even thought of by the media our states without Huddlestone are remarkable check out our results.

  2. Edwhite

    November 5, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Let’s ring some changes for the Bolton match, with a line-up such as:-
    Hutton, Kaboul, Bassong, Bale,:
    Sandro, Huddlestone,:
    Dos Santos, Modric, Kranjcar,:

    This should allow Spurs to combat the muscular football to be expected from Bolton, as well as take some of the pressure off Bale, allowing him to be able to attack from deep. With both Gio and Nico having the opportunity to show their attacking flair alongside Luca.

  3. Pingback: Bolton Match Preview: Team News & Prediction – Football-Talk

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