Joe Mackenzie was one of the less than 300 traveling Wanderers fans at the Stadium of Light to see Bolton beat Sunderland. He shared his five observations from the match and we expanded on them.
1) Keith Andrews will be sleeping with one eye open
Andrews has been very good for Bolton Wanderers in recent weeks and his accuracy from the penalty spot has been crucial in the last few games. However, with the way that Josh Vela played against Sunderland, it seems that Keith now has to worry about his spot. Vela looked very composed in possession, wasn't afraid of a tackle, and reminded us of what Jack Wilshere used to look like in the Bolton midfield.
2) Benik Afobe somehow keeps getting game time
There's something extremely puzzling about the continued selection of Benik Afobe. Short of two decent performances for the club, I can't ever remember him offering much of anything for the Whites. It makes me wonder whether there is some sort of contractual obligation in his continued selection, or if there is some sort of financial penalty imposed by Arsenal if he makes fewer than 20 (or so) appearances, say, to assure him of game time. He was again poor last night, despite doing the Elmander role of "running around a lot to no end."
3) Holden's back... almost
It was very nice to see Stu Holden on the pitch, wearing a Bolton shirt, and getting minutes in a competitive match. That said, the central midfielder still has some work to do in order to reach the heights he was at before the injury at Old Trafford. It's going to take him a bit to get match sharp again as one would reasonably expect, given that Holden has only played one competitive match in the last 22 months and that he's never played with so many of these Bolton Wanderers players. That said, Holden's presence on the field visibly lifted both the team and the fans.
4) Sordell showing striker instincts
Joe noted that "Sordell may not have lightning pace or bear-like strength, but he showed that knack that good strikers have of getting in the right place at the right time." His first touch didn't let him down last night and you could visibly see the drive that Sordell had. After Darren Pratley won the penalty for Bolton, Sordell claimed the ball and carried it to the penalty spot. It was Sordell's composure that helped Bolton get the important second goal and eventually see out the match.
5) Marcos Alonso is growing into his role
Having fullbacks that are able to restrict opposition play on the wings is a luxury that Bolton haven't had in years. Yet, with Marcos Alonso finally growing into the left back role, we're finally starting to reap the rewards. Alonso did very well to restrict Adam Johnson, only allowing a few crosses into the box that came to nothing. When Johnson was replaced by Sebastian Larsson, Marcos calmly placed him in his back pocket. The other dimension of Alonso's play that has really helped the Trotters in recent weeks is his ability to get forward. We saw a lot of it against Millwall (with Alonso coming very close to getting the winner) and it showed against Sunderland.