I've been writing about the mighty Wanderers for just over two years now, which includes the final dark days of the Megson era, but I can truly say that no other time period has been harder to write about than the start of this season. It's not just the constant losing, although that was not fun, but the unpredictability that's challenging. The false dawn of the Wigan victory that was only followed by more losses makes any reasonable Trotter nervous, even on the back of a 5-0 victory over Stoke.
That said, West Brom hasn't exactly been having an inspiring season themselves. Only two points separate us from the Baggies, and they have now gone 213 minutes in the Premiership without scoring. In spite of an abominably leaky defense, Bolton will be hoping to continue this streak as West Brom's two top strikers of the season, Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long look to remain on the sidelines, as does midfielder Paul Scharner.
Bolton are obviously suffering a few injuries of their own, as we discussed yesterday, but other than the long termers, and the addition of Ricardo Gardner to the list, the team news is a relatively easy read. It will be interesting to see if Coyle retains faith in his winning formula from Stoke, which was a 4-4-2 in spite of my many assertion that the Whites couldn't work without a strengthened midfield.
This is a big test. Stoke left the fans elated, something they'd rarely felt since the 5-0 scoreline went the wrong way at Wembley, but one result does not make a season. More than anything the pressure is on the players. They proved they could do it last round. Every man in a white shirt put in a good performance, worked well as a team, and generally impressed. The question should not be where was this team all season, but are they here to stay?