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The Relegation Rumble: Bolton Wanderers

With Aston Villa’s demise the top of the league once again appears calcified, so, like Kim Kardashian crammed into a designer dress, the bulk of the tension will be at the bottom.  Here is the first of a series of assessments of this season’s relegation candidates.

As wretched as Manchester City and Tottenham have been at times this season, they are nine points clear.  They may not inspire much toward the end, but even if they stay static, it’s hard to see enough of the knuckle-draggers clambering up to knock them into the relegation zone.  Therefore Bolton are the first to technically be considered candidates for relegation.

Form: Bolton sit in twelfth place, on 34 points, five points clear of the drop.  They have a reasonable run of form in the past eight games, winning three, losing three and drawing two.  The club been hit or miss this season, drawing just four of the first thirty matches, but that is an advantage.  It’s easier to get to 40 points by winning twice in eight matches, than by gutting out six draws.

Schedule: Bolton have the points advantage, and they also have one of the easier schedules.  They face one top four side, Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge.  They have three benign home fixtures (Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Hull City) to get two wins.  On current form, a date with Aston Villa could be ripe as well.  Bolton could conceivably pick up a point or two away to Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic or Man City.  On schedule alone, Bolton getting to safety seems probable.

Injuries: One of the advantages to having few dynamic players, is not being dependent on such creative forces.  None of their injuries (Mark Davies, Vaz Te or O’Brien) has been critical to Bolton’s fortunes this season.  Matty Taylor is the only midfielder to have scored a goal this season, and Kevin Davies is the only reasonably effective striker.  As long as those two stay healthy, Bolton should be reasonably competitive.

Prognosis: One bad weekend could see Bolton thrust back into the race, but, at this point, they have the best position, a soft schedule and a stable squad.  It would take an epic collapse, intermingled with startling runs of form from three or four other clubs to see Bolton relegated.  It’s probably not going to happen.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Kartik

    March 26, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I picked Spurs out of the top 10 at the beginning of the season and will be proven wrong. Redknapp, “Houdini Harry” as some of us call him will steer Spurs to 7th place in all likelyhood. Nice to have an ENGLISH manager managing BRITISH players. This is a hint to the rest of the league. You don’t have to go foreign and hire unsporting players and managers who’ll choke the life out of the Premiership to do it right and win.

  2. Paul Bestall

    March 25, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Of course not, this season is a very different situation to next season. Most Spurs fans were disappointed at the situation the club found themselves in, but with Corluka, Keane, Pavlychenko, Defoe, Hutton and King all unavailable for the competition, it made sense to concentrate to league safety and the League Cup Final. The mismanagement of the club under Comoli and Ramos left the club extremely short of quality in the competiton. Preserving Premiership safety was paramount in Redknapps eyes and good on him for concentrating on that.
    Next season, when the squad has been strengthened and balanced out, they’ll be able to compete equally in 4 competitions (if they get into Europe).

  3. tyduffy

    March 25, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    DIdn’t say you did ty??? Just pointing out that I can’t see Spurs staying static sir, that’s all. The race for 7th is quite exciting with at least 6 sides going for it.

    Yes, and then they’ll be racing to get out of it the fastest next season.

  4. Paul Bestall

    March 25, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    DIdn’t say you did ty??? Just pointing out that I can’t see Spurs staying static sir, that’s all. The race for 7th is quite exciting with at least 6 sides going for it.

  5. tyduffy

    March 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Though I question the importance of UEFA Cup qualification, where do I say that Tottenham have nothing to play for?

    All I said was that they are out of the relegation battle, so whether they play well or not they will stay up.

  6. Ivan

    March 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Spurs, based on current form, will finish in the top half of the table. Credit to Harry.
    Also credit to Megson for keeping Bolton in the league with limited resources and a very mediocre team…A team such as Newcastle, for example, has a lot more quality players, but is probably going down…

  7. Paul Bestall

    March 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Spurs can finish 7th and qualify for the Europa league, so they’ve everything to play for in the final 8 games Ty.

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