MATCH PREVIEW - VILLA VS BOLTON
By Tom Powell
Friday 04 Apr 2008 11:43:14
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Three games without a goal and three games without earning a point Villa welcome Bolton to Villa Park looking to re-ignite the end of their season and finish on a high.
 

Both teams suffered disappointing results last weekend as Bolton threw away a two goal lead and one man advantage to lose 3-2 at home to Arsenal whilst Villa were given a lesson in football as they were beaten 4-0 at Old Trafford. Bolton are currently sitting in the final relegation places, four points a drift of 17th placed Birmingham.

Gary Megson’s men will see Saturday’s match as a chance to take three points of a team low on form and confidence, but Martin O’Neill will be thinking the same thing as Bolton look to pick up three points for the first time in eleven attempts.
 

The loss against United saw another Villa player try unsuccessfully to adapt to the troublesome right-back position as Nigel Reo-Coker made the move from central midfield and was given the run around by Rooney, Ronaldo and company. Reo-Coker was there to replace usual stand in Craig Gardner who is still suffering from the thigh strain he picked up playing for England Under 21’s last month. Reo-Coker’s poor performance may earn him a move back to Central midfield with Olof Mellberg likely to try again a right-back. This could mean a recall for Zat Knight at centre-back and despite his encouraging display Stiliyan Petrov could be removed to make way for Reo-Coker. 

One man who should retain his place is John Carew who limped out of Saturday’s match but appears to be winning his fitness battle. Martin O'Neill told the club's official website: “I'm very optimistic about it because he came in on Sunday and by Monday he felt a million times better. So hopefully he'll be available. He wants to play and he understands that sometimes you just get on with it. He's prepared to do that and feels very positive about playing on Saturday.” 

Gary Megson has no fresh injury worries following last weekend’s fixtures. Ricardo Gardner remains on the sidelines with a broken rib whilst goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen’s back injury has him out for the rest of the season so Al-Habsi will keep his place between the sticks. 

In the build up to this game both camp’s have been stressing the importance of the contest. Bolton defender Gretar Steinsson told The Bolton Evening News “We've got to get three points from our next game, it's vital. We should have done better (against Arsenal), that's the only way to look at it. We didn't get anything from the game and that's our fault.”  In contrast Martin O’Neill told Sky Sports “We've got six games to go and we need to get back to winning ways - starting this weekend. I wouldn't even start to talk about the Derby game. We have got a massive game against Bolton - an absolutely massive game. We have to win. It is as simple as that. We have to find a way to win the game, and it doesn't matter how.” 

This season’s corresponding fixture saw Villa leave the Reebok Stadium with a point following a 1-1 draw. The players that grabbed the goals that day no longer ply their trade for these clubs, Nicholas Anelka gave Bolton a first half lead before Luke Moore deflected home an equaliser in the second period. 

To my dismay, the 2-1 victory I predicted last weekend was some way wide of the mark and thus far I’ve been wide of the mark on every occasion. So this week and for the good of Villa I’m going to predict that Bolton will leave with a 2-0 victory and hope that once again I’m wide of the mark, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I get one right for once. 
 

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