17 October 2009

Manchester United v/s Bolton KO at 15.00

Strong start for United so far!

Manchester United have started the season strongly and currently sit just two points adrift of in-form Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Other than the famous loss to Burnley in the opening week of the new season and their draw with Sunderland in their last fixture, the Red Devils have won every other game both domestically and in the Champions League.

Unbeaten in nine games, with eight of those matches being victories, Sir Alex Ferguson will be confident of returning to winning ways after what was a poor showing against Steve Bruce’s Black Cats.

It will how interesting to see how a number of players cope with the spotlight this weekend. Edwin van der Sar will play for the first time this season to replace Ben Foster, who has been the subject of criticism after some unconvincing showings between the sticks.

Rio Ferdinand will be looking for a strong defensive showing after a lacklustre start to the campaign for club and country, while Michael Owen gets another chance from the start.

United go into the game as overwhelming favourites and anything but three points will be considered a disappointment on Saturday.


On the rise

Bolton Wanderers go into the game on a decent run of form themselves. After an initially shaky start, Gary Megson’s side are now five matches unbeaten in all competitions, with four of those games being league fixtures.

Those results have pushed the Trotters up to 13th in the early season table, but Megson will know all to well how closely matched the sides in the bottom half are, and indeed his team sit just one point clear of the drop zone, while also being just one away from 11th.

This game marks the start of a difficult run of fixtures, with games against Everton, Chelsea and Aston Villa to follow in the league, with another game against Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues awaiting them in the Carling Cup.

So every point that can be gained in this spell will be considered vital, and despite going into this game as massive underdogs, Bolton will not see this as a game where they have nothing to lose.


FORM GUIDE

Manchester United

Manchester United 2-2 Sunderland
Manchester United 2-1 Wolfsburg (Champions League)
Stoke City 0-2 Manchester United
Manchester United 1-0 Wolves (League Cup)
Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City


Bolton

Bolton 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Birmingham City 1-2 Bolton
Bolton 3-1 West Ham United (Carling Cup, after extra time)
Bolton 1-1 Stoke
Portsmouth 2-3 Bolton


TEAM NEWS


Manchester United

Wayne Rooney is definitely out with a calf problem, which may also mean he is absent from Wednesday's Champions League trip to play CSKA Moscow. Owen Hargreaves is making good progress in recovery from his knee problem, but is still three weeks away from full fitness.

Dimitar Berbatov may add to United's striking problems by being absent due to the birth of his first child, but Michael Owen (groin) returns. Jonny Evans will get a late check on an ankle problem.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar makes his long awaited return and will replace Ben Foster.


Previous starting XI (2-2 H V Sunderland): Foster, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Welbeck, Rooney, Berbatov.


Bolton

Bolton are likely to be without Sam Ricketts (ankle), who had to withdraw from the Wales squad in midweek, while there will also be a late fitness test for Sweden striker Johan Elmander.

Long-term absentee Sean Davis is still missing.

Previous starting XI (2-2 H V Tottenham): Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Samuel, Gardner, Muamba, Cohen, Lee, K Davies, Taylor.


PLAYERS TO WATCH


Manchester United – Michael Owen


With Wayne Rooney out and Dimitar Berbatov not certain to play, the onus will be on the returning Michael Owen to make his mark from the start up-front. The former Liverpool star has tended to feature from the bench so far this season, and will be eager to stake his claim for a regular starting spot as next summer’s World Cup draws ever closer.


Bolton – Kevin Davies


As always, Kevin Davies will be a crucial figure to Bolton as he spearheads their attack. The Englishman had his best season in 2008-09 and has already made a good start to the current campaign. He will be looking to put pressure on Rio Ferdinand, who finds himself in the spotlight after some high-profile recent errors.


PREDICTION


Despite the absence of Wayne Rooney, Manchester United will be confident of securing a victory on Saturday before a big week which includes games against CSKA Moscow and Liverpool.

Bolton are on a decent run of form at present, but it is hard to see them getting anything against United, particularly at Old Trafford.

I’m not sure it will be a huge win, but the Red Devils should do enough to pick up the three points.


theredevilspot PREDICTION:

United 2-1 Bolton

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