This Tuesday evening Championship side Bolton Wanderers will travel to Prenton Park, the home of League 1 side Tranmere Rovers, in order to play a match in the second round of the Capital One Cup, also known as the league cup. Both sides come into this match on the back of a terrible run of form. In fact, the two clubs have combined to play ten competitive matches so far this season, and the only victories for either side are their round one Capital One Cup encounters. In their respective league, Bolton have lost two straight matches by a combined 0-4 score. Before that they drew 1-1 with Reading. Tranmere have lost their last two league matches by a combined 7-1 scoreline. Before that they drew 3-3 with Crawley Town.
On 6 August, both of these clubs won first round Capitol One Cup matches. Both sets of supporters thought it may be a sign of their side starting a good run of form. Oh, foolish optimism, how I miss thee. On that day Bolton beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1, with winger Samni Odelusi scoring two goals. He has barely played since, as the Wanderers have managed one goal in 270 minutes of league play.
As always, we at Lion of Vienna Suite ask ourselves a few questions before this match. First, should Bolton be able to beat this club?
That's actually an easy one. Tranmere are not only in a lower division, they are getting steamrolled on a regular basis in that division. In four matches they have conceded 13 goals. That's even more than Bolton!
The second question, Who is fit for Dougie Freedman to pick?
We know Mark Davies and Stu Holden are still out. Chris Eagles is close to returning, but unlikely to be risked. Tim Ream was subbed against QPR because of hamstring tightness, and his status is unclear. Everyone else, as far as we know, is fit and available.
The third, particularly important in a cup tie, will any players be rested?
I think that we have a few players who are very close to first choice at their position, and these players are always going to appear in cup matches. Most obvious, Andy Lonergan. He will play from the start Tuesday. Tyrone Mears is also almost certain to start at right back. And it will be shocking if Odelusi is not in the Starting XI.
The interesting one might be Tim Ream. If he is fit, he will start, but where? Given his Man of the Match performance Saturday, it would make sense to start him in central midfield. But we have depth there. I suspect Ream will start in central defense, but maybe not. It would be nice to Cian Bolger given a chance. Matt Mills could do with being called in from the cold as well.
The truth is, most of Bolton's squad players would waltz into the Tranmere first team. It should be a walkover. But Bolton don't really do things decisively. I expect a penalty shootout.