Match Preview

Bolton 2005 preview: Team selection, tactics and permutations

Ahead of tonight's Bolton v Chelsea #CFCWatchParty, we have dug into the archives and found this website's original preview of the game from 15 years ago...

Here's what we said on 30 April 2005....
It is almost exactly 22 years since Clive Walker slammed the ball into the net away at Bolton for one of the most significant victories in Chelsea history. Now Bolton stands on the verge of hosting another blue letter day.

Back then it was a win that prevented Chelsea dropping to the old Third Division; a fate from which we may not have returned, nor even survived. Now Chelsea stand with the possibility to win the championship entirely in our own hands in one game for the first time in 50 years.

A win is all that is needed although of course a win over Sam Allardyce’s side is no easy matter. Or at least it isn’t as long as you didn’t play them in late November and December. Bolton were in a healthy fifth place when they arrived at Chelsea in November and earned a 2-2 draw. Only the second time Chelsea had dropped points at home this season, it could have been classed as a shock but no one was absolutely astounded.

Bolton’s power play had already earned similar results against Arsenal and Man United and against Chelsea a late equaliser from the giant Radhi Jaidi, scored with his feet, completed a fight back from 2-0 down. Bizarrely Bolton crashed after that result against the league leaders, losing their next six Premiership matches. But they’ve since returned to form and returned to the top six with much to play for in terms of European qualification.

Chelsea won at Bolton last season, John Terry and Damien Duff scoring in the second half, overcoming a difficult opening to the game. Since that Clive Walker-inspired win however it has not been that happy a hunting ground, even with the switch to a new stadium. Three defeats and two draws is the record in the interim years.

The north-west of England was, according to Alex Ferguson, where Chelsea’s championship challenge might derail. The Man City defeat apart, Chelsea have won every game so far in that part of the country. With two clean sheets in the last three games, Chelsea’s defence is looking more like its old self too. One more shut-out will be a club record for a season of 33.

Expect Robert Huth to play. Jose Mourinho will want as much physical presence as he can muster to counter the aerial strength of Kevin Davies and all. Another appearance will take the German to just two away from qualifying for a championship medal. Bolton have a full squad to select from but whether Mourinho will make many changes midway through the Champions League tie is a major question.

The participation of Damien Duff, scorer of Chelsea’s opener in the first minute against Bolton in November, must be in doubt having missed Wednesday night’s game with a hamstring strain. If Duff is missing and Robben is not yet considered ready to start, expect Eidur Gudjohnsen to retain his place up front. How proud would he feel leaving the ground where he first established his reputation in England as a Premiership champion?

If Chelsea do fail to wrap it all up at Bolton then it is back to the same scenario as last week; everyone glued to Arsenal’s Monday night televised game, this time away to West Brom. Should the Gunners secure an expected win then it is to The Bridge on Saturday for the visit of Charlton. A simple three points at Bolton sometime after 7pm on Saturday will render that all academic - and the party can begin!

Tonight's #CFCWatchParty starts at 8.30pm, with the full game broadcast on this website and Twitter chat alongside. You can join in