Coyle's Bolton Travel To Anfield

Liverpool enter tomorrow's clash with Bolton on the back of a 5 game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Although this makes for good reading, it does not really reflect the performances from the team.

The first win over Wolves had good aspects to it, but again we were perhaps helped when the Wolves side were weakened due to a sending off, it was only then when we managed to break the deadlock.

The Villa win, although a massive one, again did not bring many positives in terms of play from the lads. It was the magic of Fernando Torres in the dying seconds that secured the three points.

The draw with Stoke was only made acceptable due to poor results from other teams around us, again we conceded a silly late goal and should have done better.

The win over Tottenham is perhaps the only real good performance from the Reds in this collection of results, a brilliant team effort and enthusiastic stint from Dutchman Dirk Kuyt saw us keep a clean sheet and put two past Gomes.

The 0-0 draw with Wolves, was very dreary, although we defended very well and managed to get another clean sheet, the lack of chances was simply terrible.

So can this help us make a prediction as to how the boys will play on Saturday?

Well first of all, it predicts that the outcome will be unpredictable.

For a starters, re introduction of our captain Steven Gerrard may have a positive effect or as some people have been noting a more damaging one.

Take for example the Spurs game, without the likes of Torres and Gerrard in the starting XI, the rest of the players are always going to feel less pressurised, in situations where they would usually feel that difficult pass to try to feed Gerrard should be attempted they are allowed to be more creative. Sometimes this is what you need in order to break down a team like Spurs.

Any team we face are fully aware of our target men, take them out of the situation and sometimes the threat is in disguise. Spurs would not have been aware for example of the likes of Philip Degen who proved to be a very good asset in that game.

So how on earth do you try to convince yourself that Gerrard may not change the game? The fact is, you can't, every time he is on the pitch you know he can create that spark, a spark which can change a game totally, however, this usually occurs when we have an on form Gerrard, one who had been playing his football regularly.

At the moment however we have an almost rushed back skipper, one who although against Wolves was probably one of our better players was still clearly a shadow of himself.

So we have an option, do we start Gerrard? Or should we ease him back into the formation, steadily building back that lost connection with the rest of the XI? In the mean time why not start Aquilani, sit him behind Kuyt or N'Gog, as he did against Spurs, and let the football flow more freely?

It does seem a ludicrous idea, but one worth thinking about.

A prediction perhaps more easy to make for once is the ability of the defence. I have been very impressed with Kyrgiakos of late, along with Carra doing well in his un-favoured position and Insua, in general doing the trick. I feel we have been strong at the back for once. However, Martin Skrtel although obviously a good player has been questionable of late, if Agger is available, i would rather start him for Saturday's clash.

Another guess you could take is that Kuyt will again be in the role of lone striker, this seemed to work when he had Aquilani sitting behind him but on Tuesday night, it did not work at all. Riera was the man with the most attacking nous at Molineux and even his efforts were unfruitful.

So what can we predict by looking at Bolton?

They have conceded 9 goals in their last 5 league fixtures and scored 6.

This perhaps indicates a slight weakness at the back but in all fairness two of those fixtures were against Arsenal.

Gary Cahill is their top scorer, with 5 goals in the premier league. With a defender as top goalscorer, it is clear Bolton are threatening from set piece play.

This could cause a problem for Liverpool, as it is usually corners and free kicks that cause a goal deficit. However, as i mentioned earlier, the defence has been improving of late so hopefully they will be able to deal with it tomorrow.

Stat Sandwich:
  • At Anfield Liverpool have have won the last seven meetings between the two clubs and have conceded only one goal.
  • Bolton last won in the league at Anfield in 1954.
  • Liverpool are aiming to keep a third clean sheet in succession for the first time in the league this campaign.

I expect tomorrow's fixture to be quite a scrappy affair, after the 3-2 victory earlier in the season though, i do not expect to see another goal fest, both sides have changed since the last meeting, one has a new manager and i just can't see it being a repeat.

So, considering i have based a lot of this post on "predictions" i suppose i should predict the score and this time out i am punting for a rather boring 1-0. I think the defence is still key in this outcome, if they can continue to play as they have been doing then the "nil" aspect is a no brainer, in contrast though, the attack has been struggling, however i feel the likes of Reira or Kuyt will manage to get something out of the Bolton side.

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