Thanks to international football, it seems an age ago that we were celebrating that fantastic 8-2 home victory over Arsenal. It was certainly a statement of our intent to hang onto our title, and claim a 20th success, even more so following quickly on the back of a home drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur! This Saturday, Sir Alex Ferguson takes his side the short distance to the Reebok Stadium to take on Bolton Wanderers. On paper it`s a fixture that should see us take all three points and maintain our 100% start to the season, but you just never know do you!
Gary Cahill has sprung to prominence over the last season and a half and if it were not for the fact that Manchester united had an array of central defence talent (Jones, Evans, Smalling, Vidic and Ferdinand) already at their disposal, we`d imagine that Sir Alex Ferguson may well be in the mix for his signature when his contract expires next summer.
With regards to the forthcoming fixture, Cahill has given the red-top press a few words that seem to indicate the pressure is more on United, than Bolton, to get a result when he comments about facing us,
“It`s not daunting really. People expect United to get a good result with the form they are in so let`s hope we can cause an upset.”
And as for having mixed with the United contingent whilst together with the England squad,
“Training with Wayne (Rooney) and Ashley (Young), you can see the quality they have. They are in great form so it will be a difficult challenge we`ll look forward to.”
It looks as if there`ll be some interesting match-ups this Saturday, none more so than Cahill trying to keep Rooney quiet.
Continuing with quotes form the other camp, Kevin Davies appears to be relishing the opportunity to try and unsettle our young Spanish keeper, David de Gea, remarking in the media this morning,
“I`m sure there`ll be a few crosses going in.”
Before adding further comments relating to facing United at the Reebok and crossing swords with a certain Phil Jones again,
“United at home is one we all look forward to and we fancy our chances against anyone here.”
“I faced Phil Jones at Blackburn last year and he`s a big, strong boy, so I`ll be looking to give him a going over.”
A going over! Looks like we`re in for something of a physical battle then!
Bolton Team News:
Owen Coyle`s starting eleven could see a reflection of his transfer window business with three possible debuts being given David Ngog, Gael Kakuta and Dedryck Boyata.
One player likely to feature in the fixture is Chris Eagles, a former United youngster who Coyle brought to Bolton from Burnley in the summer.
One big-name absentee though is likely to be Stuart Holden with the American international still on the comeback trail from injury.
Player to watch: Kevin Davies
The battle hardened striker remains one of the most difficult in the Premier League to get to grips with. His never-say-die attitude and willingness to chase lost causes and constant harassment of opponents make him someone who could trouble our relatively young defence.
United Team News:
Hopefully our international contingent will have returned from international duty without any injury concerns. If that is the case then our only possible omissions could be Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia, Danny Welbeck and one of the Da Silva twins, Rafael. Vidic is still recovering from an injury sustained on the opening weekend of the season (at West Brom) whilst Welbeck is recovering from a hamstring pull sustained in the rout of Arsenal.
If Welbeck isn`t to be rushed back then it is expected that Javier Hernandez will get his first start of the season alongside Rooney. In the defence, it`ll be interesting to see if Sir Alex persists with youth or recalls a fit again Rio Ferdinand. The former England captain also limped off at West Brom but was on the bench last time out.
Taking a gamble, I reckon the starting eleven could well resemble the following:-
De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Jones, Evra, Anderson, Cleverley, Nani, Young, Rooney and Herandez.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Our striker, in stark contrast to last season, has got off to a flying start. His performances have resembled those he was producing during his prime and his goals per game ratio augers well for a good season. Can he get the better of a Bolton defence that will be marshaled by his international colleague, Gary Cahill, we reckon so!
Match Facts & Stats
This Saturday will witness the 120th meeting between the two sides, the statistics show that United have won 52, Bolton have emerged victors42 times and 25 have ended all square.
In recent years, United have won 11 out of the last 13 meetings and have suffered 1 loss in Premier League fixtures on Bolton soil since the inception of the Premier League.
This season, United are unbeaten having claimed maximum points form the opening three fixtures. Bolton, on the other hand, pulled off a good opening day win, at QPR but have been soundly beaten buy both Manchester City and Liverpool.
With maximum points so far, Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping to keep the pressure up on our noisy-neighbours by getting all three points. But the Reebok can be a hard place to go and Bolton, under the stewardship of Owen Coyle, a difficult team to break down. But, it should also be said, Bolton (a) is a fixture you should be looking to win if you have serious title aspirations. I`m going for just that – a United win and by two clear goals!
Our next Premier League match promises to be a real classic as we welcome our close rivals, Chelsea, to Old Trafford next weekend. Three home games on the trot against London opposition in Spurs, Tottenham and Chelsea – nine points out of nine anyone?
Before then though, we commence our Champions League campaign with a fixture against Benfica, in Portugal.