Bolton v Everton - Match Preview

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Déjà vu - the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation.

If we get a sense of this on Saturday evening, then Everton really are in trouble.

For the Blues travel to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday, the venue of arguably their worst performance of last season – and there was plenty of those to choose from.

Back in February, on a dull, damp Sunday afternoon the Toffees went down 2-0, barely putting up a fight. As the rain poured down in Lancashire David Moyes sat slumped on the bench looking powerless to stop the malaise and resigned to being ever able to turn things around.

Luckily, we did, but our displays this season have come close to matching that nightmarish outing against the Wanderers. Some ghosts need exorcising on Saturday.

Bolton are in desperate need of a win as well though – arguably more so. They have been shorn this season of influential strikers Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander, with Strurridge returning to parent club Chelsea and Elmander leaving for Galatasaray. While midfield injuries to Stuart Holden and Chung Yong Lee have also hit them hard.

A failure of the senior players to lead from the front in that quartet's absence has seen them fall to 18th place in the division, with just three wins from their opening 12 games.

One of those was a 5-0 win over Stoke that appeared to kick-start their season, but a disappointing loss to West Brom last time out appears to have set them back again.

Everton meanwhile grabbed a vital win against Wolves last weekend, the first game in a run of  "could – and should – win" matches. That though would need a vast improvement in performance, especially in the final third.

The chronic lack of a goal scorer has hamstrung Everton for a while, but the sale of both Pienaar and Arteta has also shorn them of any creativity. Moyes even admitted this week that they now rely on hard work, and Leighton Baines.

Therefore this game is not going to be pretty, in fact I reckon it will get darn right ugly at times and many neutrals will not go near it – a definite ‘last on Match of the Day’ contender.

However, at the moment, given the state of the club and playing staff, a win in any way possible is needed – even if it is a late penalty again like against Wolves. This division is too tight and fiercely contested for us to take our place in it for granted. So as many wins as possible between now and January – where funds are available for Moyes to spend – would be gratefully received. Call it short-term pain for long term gain.

Team news wise Jack Rodwell is back in the squad and in contention to start after recovering from a rib injury suffered playing for England last week. Phil Neville could also return should he pass a fitness test on a hamstring injury but Sylvain Distin is definitely out with a groin strain.

Bolton ar suffering something of an injury crisis with young full-back Joe Riley joining the likes of Mikel Alonso, Ricardo Gardner, Tyrone Mears, Chung Yong Lee, Stuart Holden and Sean Davis on the sidelines. On-loan defender Dedryck Boyata could make a return though should he pass a late fitness test.

Match facts

Bolton have won their last two home games against Everton.

Last season was the first time in seven campaigns that Everton failed to beat Bolton at least once.

The Toffees' last victory at the Reebok Stadium came in October 2008, when Marouane Fellaini scored a last-minute winner.

No club has lost more games (9) or conceded more goals (29) than Bolton. Of the eight previous clubs who lost nine of their opening 12 Premier League matches, only Southampton (2001/02) went on to avoid relegation.

The Trotters are the only club in the division not to have drawn this season. They have gone 22 matches since their last draw - a Premier League record.

Gary Cahill has scored in each of the last two Premier League matches against Everton at the Reebok Stadium.

All four of Everton's league victories this season have come with winning goals in the final 10 minutes.

David Moyes' side have kept only one clean sheet this campaign (v Blackburn). That was their only win in their last six trips to fellow North West clubs.

Victory against Wolves last weekend was the second time that Everton have won despite conceding the opening goal this season. They also achieved this against Wigan.

If selected, Marouane Fellaini could make his 100th start for the Toffees, and Tim Cahill his 250th appearance.

 

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