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Bolton v Fulham - Match Preview

last updated Friday 10th January 2003, 10:33 AM
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana Fulham are welcomed to the Reebok Stadium by struggling Northwest club Bolton at the weekend in what promises to be a tense and passionate affair, with The Cottagers lying just four points above Wanderers in the table.

Fulham coach Chris Coleman has warned Bolton that fit-again Louis Saha can "murder" their defence.

The French forward was man-of-the-match in Sunday's 3-1 success against Birmingham in his comeback game after four months out with a hamstring injury.

"Louis looked superb and there's no doubt we needed him back," Coleman said.

"We've told him to sit on the last man. If they leave him one-on-one, he's so quick and strong that he's unstoppable and will murder any defender."

Coleman added "Bolton's a game we can win and a game we know we need to win. We know all about them and are going there with a good performance under our belt and with a lot of confidence."

If Allardyce's men perform anything like they did on the opening day of the season, when these two clubs last met, Saha is likely to punish them. The Trotters were hammered 4-1 at Loftus Road, despite taking an early lead; extending The Cottagers unbeaten run against the Lancashire club to five games.

Latest League Table
Latest Form Table
Latest Squad Stats
Latest disciplinary Stats
Reebok Stadium, Bolton
- Premiership 11 Jan 03
Bolton Fulham Div
Games Played 21 21 21
Goals 23 23 26
Ave Goals Per Game 1.1 1.1 1.2
Shots (excluding blocked shots) 226 226 231
Ave Shots Per Game 11 11 11
Ave Shots on Target Per Game 5 5 5
% Shots On Target 42% 46% 43%
% Goals To Shots 10% 10% 11%
Short Passes 4207 5717 5397
Long Passes 2454 2624 2526
Total Passes 6661 8341 7923
Ave Passes Per Game 317 397 377
% Overall Passes Completed 67% 72% 72%
Ave passes completed
per game
213 286 272
Total Crosses 449 453 485
Ave Crosses Per Game 21 22 23
Crosses Completed 27% 25% 25%
Ave cross completion
per game
6 5 6
Goals Conceded 37 27 26
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 1.8 1.3 1.2
Tackles 508 697 592
Ave Tackles Per Game 24 33 28
Tackles Won % 73% 73% 72%
Ave tackles completed
per game
18 24 20
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 814 870 944
Ave Blocks, etc., Per Game 39 41 45
Fouls 241 302 292
Ave Fouls Per Game 11 14 14
Yellow Cards 38 36 35
Fouls per yellow 6 8 8
Red Cards 2 5 2
stats from opta
Cipher's stats extract shows that in terms of goals and shots, etc., Bolton have a very similar record to that of Fulham with the only variation being in accuracy, Fulham players are about 10% more accurate.

Like a number of clubs at the bottom Bolton are fairly weak in terms passing, making 26% less short passes and 5% less long passes than Fulham . So a more direct style but also less able to dominate due to less possesssion. Overall The Wanderers pass completion rate is worse than The Cottagers at 67% against 72% but Bolton are able to match Fulham in relation to crosses with a slightly more accurate delivery rate than Fulham.

Defensively The Trotters have conceded 10 more goals and won 30% less tackles than Fulham. Their blocking is only slightly worse than The Cottagers but obviously not good enough. Strangely Bolton have clocked up some 20% less fouls than Fulham but have been awarded more yellows than The Cottagers.

So it would seem that if Fulham can maintain their passing and tackling rates they can dominate the midfield and with a revitilised Louis Saha up front take the game with a one or two goal advantage.

Matchday Referee

Alan Wiley - Burntwood
Referee Alan WileyNot only is Alan Wiley a referee, but the 41-year-old also earns his living as a policeman which should endear him to the Premier League crowds.

Making his Premiership debut in the 2000/01 season, Wiley kept a low profile and avoided any controversial decisions. His standing improved during the 2001/02 campaign though, and Wiley took charge of 23 matches, handing out an average of 3.04 yellow cards per game.

Wiley's first taste of power came in 1981 during a match in the Walsall Minor League, but his ascension to top ranking official came via the assistant's route. He became a league linesman in 1991, moving on to the Premiership's list in 1994, before finally becoming a top referee in 1995.

(Ed. Ref Wiley officiated at the 4-1 thrashing of Bolton earlier in this season and "looked after us" on 4 occasions last season. In the home game against Liverpool Fulham thought they should have been awarded a penalty two minutes after the interval when Luis Boa Morte went down under a challenge from Xavier. But instead of pointing to the spot, referee Wiley booked the Portuguese international for diving, to the fury of the home fans. At the time it seemed a poor decision as Xavier had been leaning on Boa Morte with his left arm. With the aid of t.v. footage it was clear that a penalty should have been given but Wiley choose to let the decision stand rather than withdraw the caution. )

2002/ 2003
Mr. Wiley's score sheet Average Premiership Referee score sheet
Total Match Avg Total Match
Games 10 9
Fouls 258 25.8 251 27.94
Penalties 2 0.20 2 0.24
Yellows 39 3.90 29 3.25
Reds 1 0.10 2 0.22
Fouls per Yellow 7   9  

Ref Wiley is another ref with the new season resolution to whistle less, -15%, but caution more often +30%. Last season Wiley allowed an average of 10.4 fouls per caution this season it is 6.6!!

Ivan Campo and Kevin Nolan have 5 yellows each while Gudni Bergsson, Per Frandsen, Ricardo Gardner and Youri Djorkaeff are all on 3 cards. Steve Finnan is on 4 cards at the moment

Bolton Manager Big Sam signalled his intentions last Saturday when he played a second string side in the FA Cup. This decision made it clear that his priority is to maintain Bolton's Barclaycard Premiership status.

To survive in the topflight The Trotters need goals, but the manager has struggled to find a successful combination upfront. However, striker Delroy Facey believes his partnership with Michael Ricketts could send the club soaring up the table and away from danger.

The former Huddersfield striker could be in the side to face Fulham after his starting appearance in the FA Cup against Sunderland last Saturday.

"Our partnership is developing really well. We are good together and seem to have a very good understanding," he said of his link-up with Ricketts.

Bolton successfully battled against relegation last season, and the experience will undoubtedly help them this year. A win on Saturday will take them within one point of Fulham, piling the pressure on Jean Tigana's cosmopolitan squad.

Big Sam would love to drag Fulham into the relegation dogfight, as his team attempt to pull away from Sunderland and the dreaded drop zone.

  Source: 4thegame/planetfootball

Only West Ham have won fewer home games than Bolton in the Premiership this season but there are signs that things are starting to click at the Reebok.

The 4-3 thriller against Newcastle on Boxing Day was a thoroughly deserved result, while only a superb strike from Kevin Phillips denied Sam Allardyce's men a second home win against Sunderland nine days later.

The common factor in these two performances was the return to goalscoring form of Michael Ricketts, who has now hit four goals in his last five appearances since spending much of the early part of the season warming the bench.

Fulham thrashed the Trotters 4-1 in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, won their game against Birmingham in the FA Cup last weekend and in recent years have lost to Boltom just once in seven meetings .

Betting odds Bolton Draw Fulham
Coral 5/4 11/5 7/4
Hills 13/10 21/10 7/4
Ladbrokes 5/4 11/5 7/4
SuperSoccer 5/4 11/5 9/5
Stanley 11/8 2/1 7/4
Betfair 71/50 12/5 23/10
All prices subject to fluctuation(particularly Betfair).
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