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Stuart Dalgleish 11th Dec 2010 - 21:23

Are Bolton Trotting into Europe?

Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers - 13:30 Sky Sports 1

Last season Owen Coyle swapped the glamorous surroundings of Burnley for the delights of Bolton and many, myself included, thought it was a bit of a sideways step.

How wrong we could be.

The enthusiastic Scot has got the Trotters playing stylish football and chasing a place in the Europa League, while his former employers are stuck in the Championship having fallen away since Coyle left them.

In fact, such is the recognition for his achievements this season, Bolton have recently picked up a double in the monthly awards, Johan Elmander (9/2 first goal) won player of the month and Coyle the manager of the month, of course though that proved to be a curse as they lost to Man City last weekend.

That match aside though Bolton have been increasingly tough to beat, just ask Blackpool boss Ian Holloway who saw his side throw away a two-goal lead as Wanderers thought back to earn a 2-2 draw in their last home match.

That comeback ensured that Bolton (21/20) have lost just once at the Reebok this season, a narrow defeat to Liverpool, and that is a massive factor in their push for Europe, last term they lost seven times at home so that just shows you how important it is to make your home ground a fortress.

That form on their own patch is the simple reason why I expect Blackburn (13/5, draw is 23/10) to leave empty-handed.

Rovers haven't been too bad at home themselves, but away from Ewood Park they're limp and easy to beat, the last couple of games proof of that, Paul Robinson letting 11 fly past him at Spurs and Man Utd in their last two road trips.

Morten Gamst Pedersen (9/1 first goal) has found form recently, and if Rovers can get him on the ball he will be a threat and the likes of Jason Roberts (15/2) and Nikola Kalinic (15/2) will be feeding on his deliveries, just as Ryan Nelsen (33/1) did against Wolves last week.

Both teams to score seems to be a very popular bet at the minute, and it's at 7/10 chance that both keepers will pick the ball out of the back of the net, 21/20 is the price on 'no', the 'yes' option has been a winner in six of Bolton's last seven matches.

If backing this option, as I do think that Rovers have it in them to score, then consideration must also be given to over 2.5 at 10/11, Bolton have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven at the Reebok, so if they can do that again with Blackburn also scoring then you've got a couple of winning bets there.

Of course, giving all these permutations it'll end up being a 0-0 snooze-fest! An attractive 10/1 is on offer for you though if it is to end goal-less.

That exact scoreline occurred two seasons ago in this fixture, this in the middle of a miserable run for Bolton against their Lancashire rivals, October 2006 the last time that the Trotters beat Rovers. Big Sam was in charge of Bolton at the time, seven undefeated games for Blackburn have passed since that day so the hosts are long overdue it.

I fancy they can do it, and I reckon Kevin Davies (13/2) could be the man to do the business for them, a Davies first goal and a 2-1 Bolton win (15/2 in the correct score market) looks cracking value at 45/1.



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