Two wins in the last ten Premier League games is not form of a side who finished second in the Premier League table last season. Chelsea were formidable under Carlo Ancelotti and many were puzzled as to why Blues owner Roman Abramovich dismissed the Italian in the Goodison Park tunnel on the final day. The Russian forked out around £15m to bring highly-rated Andre Villas-Boas from Porto after he had led the Portuguese side to the league, cup and Europa League.
Villas-Boas has failed to justify the hype that surrounded his well-documented switch from the Estadio Dragao to Stamford Bridge. Whether that is his relative inexperience in dealing with Premier League football or the reluctance of Chelsea’s senior stars to perform for Villas-Boas remains to be seen. The Blues are in desperate need of victory and will be confident of all three points when they welcome relegation-threatened Bolton to West London on Saturday.
Captain John Terry is still unavailable with his knee injury and Chelsea will have to cope without their fearless centre-back for six weeks. Villas-Boas came under criticism for his decision to leave Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien out of the starting line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Napoli. The Portuguese manager has defiantly insisted he picked the right team and he calls the shots, but it is widely expected that all three could be back in for Bolton. Juan Mata suffered a suspected broken finger in Naples, but should play.
Bolton travel to Stamford Bridge after a successful excursion in the FA Cup against Championship side Millwall, but their Premier League form has been woeful. Wanderers have won twice as many league games on the road than they have at home and already tasted victory in West London with an opening day 4-0 drubbing of Chelsea’s rivals QPR. Coyle has endured similar flak to Villas-Boas from his fans with many Wanderers supporters questioning the decision-making of the Scotsman.
Against Wigan last time out in the league, Bolton were all at sea and the only moment of individual quality came from midfielder Mark Davies. The 23 year old is expected to be fit for the trip to Stamford Bridge after nursing a hamstring problem, which will be a huge boost to Coyle. January signing Marvin Sordell was cup-tied against Millwall, but is available for selection and the former Watford man will be required to score goals for Bolton.
The Chelsea boss will take heart from the statistic that his side have not lost in their last 16 fixtures with Bolton, which includes their 5-1 domination at the Reebok Stadium in early October. Lampard scored a hat-trick that day, but he has failed to capture the imagination of Villas-Boas and will be looking to showcase his talent for the team on Saturday. The Blues should look to ease the pressure on their rookie manager with a comprehensive victory over an out-of-sorts Bolton.
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