The international break is almost over. The players have rested their bodies (well most of them anyway), and the fans got to rest their emotions. The break came at a good time for Bolton, things certainly could not have continued going as they were. Hopefully this will serve as a turning point in the Wanderers' season, a chance to put the abysmal start, really abysmal last year, behind them. But let's be realistic, this is Bolton we're talking about. Will they?
The good news is, from a health perspective, the Trotters are well placed to do just that. The only possible doubt, other than long-termers David Wheater and Stuart Holden, is Chung-Yong Lee, who might be rested after a busy and high travel international break. After a brief spell out due to back injury, which seems to be more precautionary than anything else, David Ngog is definitely fit enough to make an appearance, although it's another matter whether he will.
Watford on the other hand, will be missing a big force in their ranks. Captain John Eustace will once again be missing with a back injury. The midfield has yet to find a viable replacement, and that will certainly be a weak spot on the day. They will also be without Geoffrey Mujangi Bia, Fitz Hall, and Prince Buaben.
Owen Coyle will probably revert back to the 4-4-2 for this match, as the 4-5-1 failed miserably at Hull. The back four of Tyrone Mears-Zat Knight-Tim Ream-Sam Ricketts seems unlikely to change, although it would be interesting to see what Marcos Alonso could do at left back given a proper chance. Chung-Yong's fatigue means that Martin Petrov should get his first real look in of the season at left wing.
Since the start of the season, Chris Eagles has deputised the left wing, leaving Chungy on the right, and no room for Petrov. This at first seemed like a strange move on Coyle's part, given that Petrov is one of the most skillful players in the squad, but Eagles has justified the decision with decent performances. This will probably be Petrov's last chance to make his case of inclusion, given the impending return of Chungy.
As for defensive midfielder, it's a tough choice between Keith Andrews and Jay Spearing. The former has been with the team longer, and continually put in decent, in not necessarily inspiring performances. The latter is largely untested, but showed promise in the little time he's been given. I would go with Spearing, to see how he operates in this system. The job of attacking midfielder will almost certainly fall to Mark Davies.
The strikers are another difficult area. While no one has been truly awful, no one has exactly stood out either. Kevin Davies and David Ngog will probably start, and that is a decent partnership. Coyle has always been extremely stubborn about substitutions, making them late or not at all, but this is an area that would be great to start in. Bolton currently has lots of viable options up front.
Similarly to Bolton, Watford are in a transitional season right now. New manager Gianfranco Zola has changed both the style and the system to 4-3-3. This is obviously a very attacking formation, and will probably give Bolton trouble, if the players within it can function properly. The biggest threat is striker Matej Vydra, who is currently on loan from Udinese. It would be safe money for him to nab a goal tomorrow.
On the whole, both teams look pretty even. Both have had rocky starts trying to adjust, in Bolton's case to a new league, and in Watford's case to a new manager. This does have the potential to be a good game, and even more importantly it has the potential to be a Bolton win. However, I think it more likely that this game ends as a draw, which if it includes an improved performance, is alright by me.