After the run of two straight Premier League defeats Manchester united have shown some character to bounce back with two home wins in the two biggest cup competitions in European football. But, it`s time to forget about a possible Wembley double and instead concentrate on a Premier League fixture that we have to win, a game against Bolton, who, incidentally, could very well be the team we meet in the 2011 FA Cup Final, if things go well for both teams in the semi-finals.
Owen Coyle is probably being very cagey when he offers Manchester United the following compliment,
“Manchester United are champions elect. They have been the course and distance, they know how to win things.”
Could Owen be trying to match Sir Alex Ferguson in the mind games stakes ahead of the clash?
United Team News:
This fixture, the first of the five game touchline ban impose don Sir Alex Ferguson, will see the boss tested to the limit when it comes to selecting his starting eleven.
United are currently experiencing a major injury crisis that could deprive Sir Alex of at least ten of his squad, amongst those likely to be unavailable for selection are Lindegaard, Rafael, O`Shea. Vidic, Ferdinand, Anderson, Hargreaves and Park.
However, we understand that Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher could well be available with Sir Alex obviously thinking of employing Evans alongside Smalling after the poor performance given by Brown in midweek, against Marseille
To complicate matters further, Paul Scholes is suspended for this fixture having collected ten yellow cards this season.
Player to watch: Wayne Rooney
Once again we suspect that Wayne will be asked to play in the hole behind the striker, likely to be Javier Hernandez. The ploy has worked wonders in recent games with Wayne now looking like the Rooney who achieved so much, personally, last season.
Bolton Team News:
Since jumping ship at Burnley and landing at Bolton Wanderers, Owen Coyle has confirmed his credentials as a top-notch manager. Bolton are a team, on their day, who can trouble anyone. Having steered the side to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final, Owen Coyle has already issued warnings that anybody who eases off hoping to save themselves for Wembley will be replaced by someone else.
Likely to return after missing the FA Cup quarter-final win, against Birmingham, is their striker Daniel Sturridge. On loan from Chelsea, Sturridge was illegible for the Cup game but Coyle is well aware that, since arriving, his goal scoring prowess has been invaluable to the side.
Owen Coyle has the following players missing through injury – S. Davis, Knight, J. O`Brien, Gardner, Ricketts and Samuel whilst M. Davies and Steinsson are rated as doubtful
Player to watch: Kevin Davies
With our defence in disarray courtesy of injuries, Davies will be licking his lips at the prospect of using his power and robust physique to unsettle something of a rookie defensive line-up.
Match Facts & Stats
United have the upper hand in recent meetings with Bolton Wanderers.
In the last 12 encounters, United have emerged victors 10 times.
Bolton have also lost their last 7 fixtures at Old Trafford.
Recent Premier League form though does favour the Trotters, Bolton have lost only 1 in 5 whilst United have lost 3 in the last 5
Our officials are:-
Referee Andrew Marriner
Assistants Mike Cairns and Jake Collin
Fourth Official Eddie Ilderton
I wonder if Sir Alex will have any kind words for them afterwards?
It`s absolutely essential United win this one. The two slip ups, against Chelsea and Liverpool, have allowed Arsenal to sense that there is a possibility Arsene Wenger could well be lining up the big one for the trophy cabinet. We expect a tough game, Bolton will not lie down, but patience could be the key word with the breakthrough possibly leading to a second goal. United to win 2-0
It`s a trip to Upton Park for us next weekend to take on relegation threatened West Ham United.