Manchester United v Bolton Wanderers
After last week’s FA Cup Quarter Final victory over Arsenal, United go into this Greater Manchester derby looking to get the quest for title number 19 back on track after defeats in their last two League games.
United could be without a full team of players for the game because of an injury crisis that in all fairness could have happened at a worse time. While playing Bolton is no easy task with a full strength, let alone depleted squad, given the upcoming International break, United will have a chance to get the injured players rehabilitated and ready for the run-in that could still see United finish with three trophies.
Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, John O’Shea, Rafael da Silva, Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Anders Lindegaard will all miss the game. Jonny Evans and Park Ji-Sung are doubtful and Paul Scholes will be unavailable through suspension. Perennially injured Owen Hargreaves could however be a surprise inclusion in the match day squad, after training all week with no recurrence of the hamstring injury suffered after only 6 minutes of his comeback game against Wolves in November.
Antonio Valencia is in line to make his first start for United since breaking his ankle on September 15th 2010 and Dimitar Berbatov is likely to miss out once more as Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney’s blossoming partnership looks more and more like Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice. On the subject of Ferguson, he today begins his five-game touchline ban for comments made about Martin Atkinson’s “officiating” of the Chelsea game at the beginning of this month.
Bolton are doing very well this season under Owen Coyle, finding themselves in 7th place in table as well as an FA Cup Semi Final. What’s more, Bolton’s success has been achieved through flowing, expansive football. The Trotters can still mix it when called for and the strike force of Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies could cause more than a few problems for the makeshift United defence.
Earlier in the season Bolton twice took the lead and were twice pegged back against United at The Reebok Stadium in a 2-2 draw. United have only won four times on the road all season, but The Red Devils’ almost impeccable home record has seen them top the table since before Christmas, with only two points out a possible 42 dropped.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Last five meetings:
26/09/2010 – Bolton 2-2 United
27/03/2010 – Bolton 0-4 United
17/10/2009 – United 2-1 Bolton
17/01/2009 – Bolton 0-1 United
27/09/2008 – United 2-0 Bolton
1. van der Sar; 20. Fabio, 12. Smalling, 6. Brown, 3. Evra; 25. Valencia, 16. Carrick, 28. Gibson, 17. Nani; 10. Rooney, 14, Hernandez