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Premier League preview: Chelsea v Bolton

23 February 2012 19:59

An English Premier League match at home to struggling Bolton should be an attractive prospect for Chelsea as they seek a return to form.

Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea team are without a win from their past five matches in all competitions.

Their barren run includes giving up a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home to Premier League champions Manchester United, followed by a frustrating 1-1 draw with second-tier Birmingham in the FA Cup.

The latest calamity arrived in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, when Chelsea were outclassed in a 3-1 loss away to Serie A side Napoli.

Poor results and rumours of dressing room discontent have reportedly heaped the pressure on Villas-Boas, but the coach has insisted he requires only the backing of club owner Roman Abramovich to continue his rebuilding project.

What the 34-year-old Portuguese tactician needs most is a win to quieten the voices of unrest, and there can be few more likely targets than second-from-bottom Bolton Wanderers.

FA Cup semi-finalists last season, Bolton have struggled to cope with injuries and the loss of key players in 2011/12.

They were forced to sell Gary Cahill to Chelsea in the January transfer window, and with John Terry sidelined by knee surgery, his young England colleague is likely to line-up against former employers Bolton at centre-back.

There is another connection between the clubs further forward - Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton, and played a key part in their impressive performances under Scottish manager Owen Coyle.

This term Coyle has had to make do without the services of Sturridge and centre-forward Johan Elmander, who left for Galatasaray on a free transfer in May.

Long-term injuries to key midfielders Stuart Holden and Chung-Yong Lee have also taken their toll, meaning Bolton have managed just six victories in 25 league matches this season.

They did beat Championship side Millwall 2-0 last week to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, but it remains to be seen if Coyle can preserve his team's top-flight status.

As well as Holden and Lee, Bolton will also be missing versatile veteran Ricardo Gardner and fullback Tyrone Mears, while striker Kevin Davies is in doubt with a knee injury.

Villas-Boas has close to a full complement of players to choose from, with club captain Terry their only absentee.

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Info

Competition
Premier League
Date
29 December 2010
Game week
20
Kick-off
20:45
Half-time
0 - 0
Full-time
1 - 0
Venue
Stamford Bridge (London)
Attendance
40982

Goals

F. Malouda 61'
(assist by D. Drogba) 
1 - 0

Lineups

Substitutes

# Player Bookings
19
21
22
38
43
44
46
# Player Bookings
17
10
16
1
20
25

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