Bolton ended the disastrous run of results with an impressive away win over Wigan and the Trotters are hoping to continue their climb up the Premier League standings. Sunderland, on the other hand, could do little to avoid defeat at the Emirates, and Steve Bruce’s side will have to show a massive improvement in order to get something from this clash.
Bolton back on track
Having shown a lot of promise last season under Owen Coyle, Bolton were expected to start this season strongly and maybe even enter the race for the European places. The predictions looked to be well founded when the Trotters opened the campaign with a 4:0 away win over Queens Park Rangers, but an extremely difficult fixture list saw them lose next six league games, to the dismay of their faithful fans. However, having faced all five title contenders during that period, we can only say that the home defeat to Norwich was a major disappointment, even if the Trotters should have taken at least a couple of points against the title rivals. The 2:0 Carling Cup win at Villa Park proved that Bolton are still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to clashes with teams other than title contenders, with 3:1 away win over Wigan at the weekend doing wonders for the players’ confidence before the Sunderland game. Owen Coyle’s side now have a great chance to continue the good run against struggling Sunderland and everything suggests the Trotters will record another morale-boosting win.
Boss Owen Coyle has no fresh injury worries at the moment, but Ivan Klasnic and Zat Knight are expected to return to the starting line-up.
Sunderland in big problems
With Sunderland owners showing big ambition to raise the club’s profile over the last few years, manager Steve Bruce was fortunate enough to have significant transfer funds at his disposal in the last few transfer windows. However, I cannot help but feel that he should have done much better with the money at his disposal since despite the heavy summer spending, Sunderland still look like an average Premier League side. Bruce failed to address the burning issue that was the lack of a true goalscorer after Darren Bent left the club, with youngster Connor Wickham and controversial Nicklas Bendtner hardly the perfect signings. As a result, the Black Cats have been in major problems at the start to the season, winning just one of first nine games in all competitions and even losing their Carling Cup tie to Brighton. Taking all that into account as well as the clear lack of talent in the side, I can’t see the Black Cats doing much better at Reebok Stadium.
Nicklas Bendtner returns to the side after missing the Arsenal game, whereas Phil Bardsley is also back after serving his four-match ban.
Bolton are finally over the difficult fixture list, with the impressive win over Wigan likely to give the Trotters an extra incentive before the Sunderland clash. The Black Cats are desperately short of quality in every area of the pitch and they don’t look capable of ending their poor run of results.
Our prediction: Bolton Draw No Bet
Odds: 1.57 (4/7)