Bolton v Tottenham, FA Cup fifth round, February 14, 2010
Both these sides turn to the FA Cup to get away from some poor form in the league. Midweek defeats will have chastened both Owen Coyle and Harry Redknapp and this game could be a tight encounter with the first goal all important for confidence. (Bolton are 29/1 to win the FA Cup, Spurs are 13/2.)
Owen Coyle has not quite had the desired effect since taking over as Bolton manager from Gary Megson. The defeat at Manchester City on Tuesday was their fourth in eight games since he took over. The 2-0 win over Sheffield United in the last round preceded a victory over Coyleâ€™s old club Burnley but since then defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City and a 0-0 home draw with Fulham have left the Trotters looking like strong candidates for the drop. (Bolton are 13/5 to be relegated.)
The atmosphere around the club was further soured earlier this week with the news that highly-rated central defender Gary Cahill will miss the rest of the season with a blood clot in his arm. Cahill provided a presence in both boxes and he will be sorely missed. (Bolton are 10/30 to keep a clean sheet.)
Coyle was supposed to bring a new brand of football to Bolton following the perceived boring stuff served up under the â€œGinger Mourinhoâ€ (Gary Megson). The former Burnley boss was not afraid to field both Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies at Manchester City but his principles are being tested by a squad that isnâ€™t quite shaped to play how he would like.
A fine illustration of this will be seen how he utilises Davies against Spurs. The big striker has been a thorn in Tottenhamâ€™s side for a number of seasons now and has claimed three goals in the last two matches between these two sides at the Reebok. Elsewhere in the Bolton side, the likes of Matt Taylor and Tamir Cohen should provide a threat from midfield.
Of course there is a chance that Coyle will rest a number of players ahead of the crucial Premier League clash at Wigan on Wednesday night. Harry Redknapp meanwhile is expected to send out a first choice side after inexplicably leaving out some key players for the defeat at Wolves on Wednesday.
Tottenhamâ€™s second defeat of the season to Mick McCarthyâ€™s side was a major blow to their Champions League hopes. (Spurs are 8/1 to finish in the top four.) Redknapp described the performance as the worst of the campaign but many Spurs fans are questioning why the likes of Wilson Palacios, Luka Modric and Peter Crouch started the game on the bench.
Spursâ€™ results in 2010 have illustrated the importance of Aaron Lennon. Since the diminutive winger was injured against West Ham, Tottenham have failed to score in four of their six Premier League games and have endured a damaging defeat at Liverpool as well as 0-0 home draws with Hull and Aston Villa. Lennon will miss this match and isnâ€™t expected back till next weekend at the earliest. (Spurs are 13/8 to score in both halves.)
Redknappâ€™s decision to make changes for the match at Molineux suggests â€˜Arry has his eye on another tilt at the competition following his success with Portsmouth. Spurs have played their best football in the FA Cup in recent weeks, hammering Peterborough at home and then producing a fine away win at Leeds in the fourth round replay.
Spurs have a horrible recent record against Bolton, losing seven of their last 12 visits. Both teams are likely to come into this game low on confidence. Tottenham look unlikely to secure the Champions League spot that look there for the taking whilst Bolton are just a point above the relegation zone. A win here could kick start their respective seasons but it is likely to be a tight encounter (10/11 to be under 2.5 goals, 21/20 to be over), much like the 2-2 draw at the Reebok in the Premier League in October.
101gg predicts: Bolton 1 â€“ Tottenham 1 (6/1)
Full match odds here.