As some have been quick to point out, this was Bolton's third consecutive win, a bit of a Reebok Renaissance, if you will. Martin Petrov has been a huge part of that. In November and December he didn't see the pitch for four straight matches, all Bolton losses. Since coming in from the cold to start against Blackburn, a 2-1 Bolton win in which Petrov created one of the goals, he has started nine straight matches, and remained on the pitch for all but three of those 810 minutes.Bolton have won five and drawn two of those encounters.
Yesterday against Swansea was a microcosm of what Petrov has done for the club over the past six weeks. It was his free kick that Pratley nodded home for the first goal, and the Swans keeper, who was quite good on the day, couldn't hold on to Petrov's shot in the second half, leaving Chris Eagles to finish off the match on the rebound.
There are a few reasons for this improvement. Petrov is a confidence player, and he seems to be back to enjoying his football. The insertion of David Ngog and Mark Davies into the starting XI has certainly made all of the attacking players look better. Petrov was also a willing defender yesterday, tracking back when needed to help the back line. We all know this isn't always the case with the Bulgarian. He also has a legitimate defender now playing behind him, which covers up for his lack of defending and allows him to venture further up the pitch more freely (You knew I would get a dig on Paul Robinson in here somewhere).
All that said, do we really care why? Mark Davies also could have been Man of The Match (we say that every week now it seems). Joe Riley could make a case (it will be interesting to see who is at right back against Arsenal), as could Darren Pratley, who has come under a lot of fire since signing with Bolton, and really had his first good game in a Wanderers short yesterday. Nigel Reo-Coker put in another solid performance as well, although he and Fabrice Muamba are unlike to win MOTM very often, given lack of glamour involved in the thankless job they perform in the center of the pitch.
Dedryck Boyata also warrants a mention. I wouldn't say he was MOTM, but he certainly is much better at centre-half than he was at right back. All in all, several players seem to have found their form at the moment, bring on the Arsenal!