Writer: Matthew Shevlin
Date:Friday May 6 2011
Bolton v Sunderland Preview
It's been just over 20 months since Darren Bent's delicate header just 3 minutes into Steve Bruce's reign as manager gave the boss a dream start to his reign as manager in last season's away meeting at Bolton. However, it's difficult to say that it hasn't been a turbulent period for Bruce, who is once again facing calls to quit after a truly dreadful performance against Fulham last week just as the side seemingly looked to be getting back on track.
In fact, it is the January departure of the scorer in that fixture, Darren Bent, which has been blamed by many for Sunderland's rapid descent into the bottom half of the table. Sure, Bent was an ever-present in the side that failed to win for almost 3 months last season, but the difference was, in Bent, Sunderland had a natural goalscorer who consistently got goals no matter how the rest of the team performed around him. Sunderland's need for someone who has this quality, or even a striker in general, was highlighted at the weekend. Sunderland looked to come out on top in terms of chances in the first half, but Steed Malbranque, forced to operate in an unusually advanced role, and skipper Lee Cattermole, who has yet to score for the Black Cats, wasted both opportunities before the team imploded in a second half which must rank amongst one of Bruce's worst in front of the home crowd in his reign.
Sunderland Team News
It was clear on Saturday that Sunderland's squad was woefully short of depth, with no recognised strikers and a number of other key players injured, the team suffered badly. However, the injury crisis has since worsened throughout the past week. We have learned that Lee Cattermole (Back Injury) and Michael Turner (Leg) are both probable to miss the remaining games, with Keiran Richardson's groin injury being re-diagnosed as a stress fracture of the leg, another mishap in what has been a seemingly comedy of errors from Sunderland this season. They join David Meyler, Fraizer Campbell, Craig Gordon, Asamoah Gyan and Titus Bramble on the ever growing treatment table.
Sunderland however, have some good news, welcoming back youngster Ryan Noble and ironically man of glass John Mensah to the fold. However it is still worrying times for Sunderland, with Ferdinand and Henderson rated 50-50 for the game
Sunderland Squad from:
Mignolet, Carson, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Mensah, Bardsley, Angeleri, Muntari, Riveros, Henderson, Malbranque, Elmohamady, Sessegnon, Zenden, Colback, Noble, Knott, Adams, Lynch.
Bolton Team News
Fortunately, Bolton are also having a mini injury crisis themselves. Danny Sturridge, Stuart Holden, Mark Davies and Sean Davis are all missing for the Wanderers, who also suffered a similar fate as the Lads to Fulham and lost to relegation troubled Blackburn.
Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Knight, Cahill, Steinsson, Taylor, Gardner, Muamba, Cohen, Davies, Elmander.
One to Watch
He may not be the prettiest to watch, but Kevin Davies always get the job done. Since joining Bolton in 2003, Davies has scored over 60 goals, became captain and established himself as a threatening striker. Playing in a supporting role for the temperamental Elmander, watch for him to attempt to dominate in the air, win dangerous flick-ons and to show a goalscoring instinct inside the 6 yard box.
With Sunderland's large amount of injuries, coupled with a woeful away record and Bolton's impressive season, it's difficult to see anything but a Bolton win. A hard fought 2-1 to Bolton
Date:Friday May 6 2011
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