Bolton Wanderers return to Macron Stadium this weekend to host Huddersfield Town. This match is a showcase of just how tight the Sky Bet Championship is, and how evenly matched all of the sides are at the moment. Bolton are currently 21st, above the relegation zone only on goal difference. Huddersfield, on the other hand, sit in what appears to be a very comfortable 14th position. But look closer. Huddersfield are only 3 points ahead of Bolton. Theoretically, if Bolton defeat Huddersfield by more than one goal on Saturday, they could jump all the way up to 14th place. And 14th place is currently a scant nine points off a playoff spot.
Now, before you blow up the comment, I know Bolton are unlikely to move up to 14th this weekend, even with a sizable victory. But my point remains. This league is tight, and there is a lot of football left to be played.
Unfortunately, injury may play just as much of a role in the results as performance. Mark Davies, who has been Wanderers' second best player since Neil Lennon took over (Chung-Yong Lee has been incomparable), will be out for at least four months with a knee injury. Given the severity of the injury, as well as Davies' health history, I would be shocked if he returned this season. Marc Tierney also had another surgery on his ankle. He has been out for a year now, and the chance of him ever again playing left back at a high level are dwindling.
It's hard to believe, but Huddersfield actually have a worse defensive record than Bolton. Only five clubs in the Championship have conceded more goals than Bolton's 28, but Huddersfield have seen their goal bulge 31 times in 18 matches. So, it is safe to say that we should not expect a 0-0 at full-time.
Given that both sides have had a full week off to prepare, we are unlikely to see many changes. I expect that Lennon will go with the same starting XI that drew against Blackpool last weekend. He will expect a different result though. And so do I. 3-1 to Bolton. Craig Davies, Max Clayton, and Darren Pratley to score. What do you think the result will be?