FA Cup Preview: Sunderland v. Bolton Wanderers

Mark Thompson

Didn't we just do this? Yeah, we did. Despite a good performance from Bolton Wanderers and a 2-0 lead, the Trotters let their advantage slip and a lovely Craig Gardner strike meant that we were headed for a replay. That replay is upon us now and Bolton travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. The prize? Everton in the fourth round.

Bolton are coming off of a frustrating draw at home to Millwall and will look to provide a better performance in the northeast. Dougie Freedman said in his prematch press conference that he hopes to use the game to remind "the lads what we're missing," in hopes of getting a performance push from the team.

The Trotters have no new real injury concerns to worry about but will be boosted by Dougie's announcement that both Stu Holden and Josh Vela will be included in the squad. Whether either of them plays is another story but the fact that both are so close to starting first team matches is an excellent thing to hear.

Sunderland are coming off a resounding 3-0 win at home against Big Sam Allardyce's West Ham United and will certainly be buoyed by their performance. Martin O'Neill said his team's outing at the weekend was "night and day" compared to their meeting with Bolton at the Reebok. Because of that, the manager has said that he will not be making wholesale changes to his team.

What Bolton really need to do for this one is to really to score some goals. In all competitions, Bolton have won just one game of their last six, drawn two, and lost three. Short of the Peterborough game, Bolton have allowed just five goals in all five of those games (they allowed five vs. Peterborough). The issue has been finishing for the Trotters as they in three of those five games, Bolton scored one or non goals.

Bolton will be forced to reshuffle or play one of their starting wingers on the outside. Martin Petrov started against Sunderland (and put in a pretty good shift) but he is no longer a Bolton Wanderers player. Whether this means Chung-Yong Lee on the left and Benik Afobe on the right remains to be seen but it certainly isn't confidence inspiring.

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