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Preview: Bolton v. Liverpool

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There is no rest for the weary, and after last weekend's trip to Old Trafford, this weekend the Bolton Wanderers have to host another of the Big Four in the form of Liverpool. However it seems that now is actually a good time, given that Bolton are currently in their best form of the season, and Liverpool rather less so. They've won just 1 of their last 6 matches and have drawn 3. They're 7th in the Premiership, behind the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham, and have only scored 24 goals in the first 21 games of the season, their worst tally at comparable points in the season for 20 years. Once again, I may have tricked myself into optimism.

All of that does not mean that history is on the side of the Men in White. Liverpool have won their last 10 games against Bolton, and the injured Steven Gerrard, who has scored against Bolton for 5 seasons in a row, has returned just in time to visit the Reebok. The rest of the injury news from Merseyside bodes better. Daniel Agger is doubtful with a knee injury, while Luis Suarez is suspended.

On the Bolton side, the injury news is much the same as it has been. Jussi Jaaskelainen is still a doubt after a thigh strain, but other than that and the long termers it's a fairly full Wanderers squad. It will be interesting to see whether Owen Coyle sees fit to play David Ngog, who hasn't exactly overachieved this season, against his old club. The manager still has not found his ideal formation, and has been wavering between 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 for most of the season. Last match out of favour Kevin Davies seemed to acquit himself a bit with a goal, while Ivan Klasnic set a lot of attacking play up, so competition for the striker position is as stiff as it has been all season.

The midfield on the other hand appears to be much more settled, with Mark Davies, Fabrice Muamba, and Nigel Reo-Coker looking to be a winning combination. Despite seeming lazy at times, Martin Petrov has picked up his performances recently on the left wing, and Chris Eagles is undeniable on the right. As for the back four, after the departure of Gary Cahill, David Wheater and Zat Knight are guaranteed to be the central defenders. Gretar Steinsson and Sam Ricketts are not exactly the ideal fullback combination, but with Marcos Alonso once again out, they are probably the best.

If Bolton can replicate the good performances they've put in recently, notably against Everton and Macclesfield, then this could be the time to chase away the scouse bogeyman. The second half will be key, Bolton's pattern this season has been to lie down in the second half, but it appears to be reversing. I am tentatively optimistic, because while this Bolton team has the ability to break your heart, they can also make it soar.