Happy Birthday, Reebok Stadium
Date: Thursday 30th August 2007Think back a decade. September 1st 1997, and the opening of a brand new football stadium. Everton were the visitors on that day, and the FA computer threw up a repeat of that match for the 10th anniversary. That day the match finished 0-0 (actually 1-0 to Bolton, but we'll not mention that goal again! Ed). The season finished with Bolton in 18th – sent down by Everton in 17th on goal difference, and both teams will be hoping to finish much higher than at the end of that season. Everton come into this match faring significantly better than Bolton, currently lying in fifth place, with a total of seven points, including a win at White Hart Lane – and Bolton may find more difficultly in this match than they did in the convincing win last weekend over Reading. The Toffees pose an attacking threat, with striker Andy Johnson, and Arteta and Osman in midfield. Osman has already scored two this season – and although the other two have drawn blanks so far, they pose a formidable threat that Bolton will need to thwart. In defence, Everton possess the experienced duo of Yobo and Alan Stubbs, the latter once of Bolton, with onetime United regular Tim Howard between the posts. This defence has conceded exactly one goal every game this season – and they will be looking for their first clean sheet. In manager David Moyes, Everton have achieved stability, and are no longer the regular relegation candidates their finishes showed prior to his arrival. He led them to UEFA Cup qualification with a sixth place finish last season, and will be hoping for a better challenge for that competition than Everton’s last venture into Europe. This is a game that Bolton must be looking to win. The confidence carried through from the Reading victory must be maintained, and three points would carry the Whites into mid-table. With Anelka signing his new contract, and Diouf probably still appearing in a Bolton shirt on Saturday, I predict they will win again, and need to be looking for a clean sheet to go with it to take all the points. Though with the greater attacking threat the visitors possess than Reading, I think a still gelling defence may struggle to do this – and my unbiased prediction is 1-1. September 1st 1997 finished 0-0, marred by that refereeing error. Bolton need to be hoping that this anniversary gives a better result.