Club Focus – Bolton Wanderers – Coyle backs front-men to perform

Bolton boss Owen Coyle has called for his players to replicate their attacking performance of last Sunday in their upcoming game against West Bromwich Albion.

The Trotters took the lead twice against Manchester United last week, and outplayed their rivals for a large percentage of the match. Stats after the game showed that the Wanderers attack was on form; they fired in a total of 15 shots on goal in the 2-2 draw, with Edwin van der Sar keeping the Reds in the game on a number of occasions.

Zat Knight opened the scoring on just six minutes before his goal was cancelled out by a Nani wonder goal. Bulgarian Martin Petrov grabbed his first strike since his summer move to the Reebok to put the Whites ahead, but Michael Owen’s introduction to the game in the second-half saw the striker head in from close-range to earn a point for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Bolton had a number of chances to steal three points, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was also kept busy throughout, and the draw was probably a fair result.

Despite only finding the net twice with their 15 attempts on target last week, there can be no complaints about the quality in performances made by Bolton’s front-men. Some would say this is because of the faith that the Scot has in his strikers, notably record-signing Johan Elmander. Coyle has always been keen to praise the misfiring Swede whenever his form has dropped, and it seems this simple approach has worked wonders.

Far from the player of last year, Elmander has netter already three times this season, and will be looking to add to his total against the Baggies this Saturday. Kevin Davies is also having a great start to the season, and Coyle spoke of his desire for them both to continue to perform in a press-conference on Thursday: “The skipper and Johan Elmander are playing ever so well at the moment, and I hope that they can keep that up.”

Coyle went on to talk about the amount of options that he has up-front when picking the team, and he stated that both Davies and Elmander should not get complacent about their promising start: “They recognise as well that they have got Ivan Klasnic, Robbie Blake and young Rodrigo Moreno snapping at their heels, and that is what is spurring them on to give the level performance which they are.”

Wanderers’ fans were given an encouraging bit of news yesterday as it was announced that midfielder Stuart Holden had signed a contract extension to keep him at the club till 2013. The midfielder joined on a short-term deal last January, but only played one game as an injury ruled him out for the rest of the campaign. He had shown enough promise to earn himself a further year on his six-month deal, and Aberdeen-born Holden has gone on to star in all six games of the current season as part of a strong looking midfield for the Trotters. His performances have not gone unnoticed by fans, and stats showed that his 96% pass rate in the first three games of this season was the best in the league.

Fresh off the back of the 2-2 draw, Bolton will be looking to build on a set of decent performances that has led to them being beaten just once – by Arsenal at the Emirates. But no one will be banking on an away win, as West Brom are going into the game in great form. Last week’s win against the Gunners gave them their first away Premier League win in 18 games, and has elevated them to 6th in the table. The club are of course known for their tendency to get relegated following a promotion to the first tier of English football, but signings like those of Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie and Gonzalo Jara have given them some real quality in the squad. Roberto Di Matteo’s side have secured seven points in their last three league games at home, so maybe Coyle will have to think twice about employing his usual attacking game plan for Saturday’s encounter.

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