Oh what we as Bolton fans would give to be anywhere near the league position that Brighton & Hove Albion are occupying at the moment. The Seagulls currently sit in seventh place, just a point out of the playoffs (mind, there's still a long season left ahead of us). Albion have put on a bit of show thus far this season and have even been top, following a stretch that saw them win five matches on the trot.
Brighton's danger man is Craig Mackail-Smith, who moved to the AMEX Stadium at the start of last season and participated in 45 matches for Albion. Last season, he scored a total of nine goals for them (a modest return) and this year, he's already equalled that total with nine goals from 17 games.
Their defense has also been top-notch this season, allowing just 15 goals from 17 games and keeping five clean sheets in the process. This has a lot to do with Brighton's goalkeeper, a man that they signed in the summer from Manchester United: Tomasz Kuszczak.
The Polish goalkeeper has been involved in all but one game for Brighton and has stopped a total of 84 shots this season, allowing only 14 in 16 matches. For the sake of comparison, Adam Bogdan has stopped 73 shots this season, allowing 24 in 17 games. Kuszczak missed Brighton's away win at Huddersfield last weekend but all indications are that he'll be back in time for Bolton's visit.
The Seagulls' defense also features another name that most football fans will recognize in Wayne Bridge. The defender, who is on loan from Manchester City (and still not a fan of handshakes and/or John Terry), has played in 16 matches this season and scored twice.
Bolton should have a mostly fit squad once again as there have been no reports of injuries out of the Reebok. Whether Dougie will take the occasion to tinker again like he did against Barnsley last weekend. One thing we have our fingers crossed for: no David Ngog in the midfield please.
The Trotters and the Seagulls have only met on 12 occasions prior to this weekend with results split evenly across the board: four Bolton wins, four draws, and four Seagulls wins. However, that last matchup came some 19 years ago which means that this will be Bolton's first visit to the very new AMEX, which opened last year.
A Bolton win and favorable results can see the Trotters climb as high as 12th place in the table. A win for Brighton and favorable results could see them go up to 5th.