Everton play their first home game of 2012 on Wednesday night with Bolton the visitors to Goodison. Everton are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Bolton at Goodison Park; the Trotter’s last win was an emphatic 4-0 win on 17th December 2005. The sides met in November as 10-man Bolton lost 2-0 thanks to goals from Marouane Fellaini and Apostolos Vellios.
Last season’s clash at the Reebok was one of Everton’s worst performances in recent memory. The Toffees lost 2-0 as Bolton won the game easily and Everton were poor throughout. Last season’s corresponding fixture ended 1-1 with Jermaine Beckford scoring a spectacular last-gasp equaliser for Everton.
Everton head into the game, after a 1-0 win at West Brom. That game won’t live long in the memory with little quality on show from either team. The result will have been the only pleasing aspect for David Moyes’ team. The positives for Everton were becoming the 7th team to gain 1000 Premier League points, a fourth clean sheet of the season and the return of Victor Anichebe.
Bolton come into the game on the back of a 1-1 home draw with fellow strugglers Wolves. The result was Wolves’ first draw in 10 home games, after one win and eight defeats. Bolton travel to Goodison looking to improve a defensive record that’s seen them keep two clean sheets, this season.
Everton achieved their first home clean sheet of the season; against Swansea, before the Christmas period. The Toffees will look to build on this and improve their poor home form. Everton’s nine home games, this season, have provided the Toffees with just 11 points. Everton’s lack of goals compounds their poor home form with the Toffees notching just nine times at Goodison Park.
Bolton will be looking to take advantage of Everton’s tendency to concede first in matches. Everton have conceded first in 15 of their 20 matches, this season. Bolton have underperformed and Owen Coyle’s team have struggled all season; not helped by a lengthy injury list. The Trotters have fared better away from the Reebok, collecting nine of their 13 points on the road.
Whilst both teams have struggled for clean sheets this season, the contrast in terms of goals conceded is vast. Everton, statistically, have the fourth best defence in the league with only the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool conceding less than Everton’s 20. If Everton’s defence is a leaky tap, Bolton’s is a flooded house. The Trotters have conceded 18 away from home and a staggering 42 overall. The contrast between the teams is clear; Tim Howard averages a save every 95.29 minutes while Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save every 60 minutes.
Both sides have struggled in front of goal. Wigan are the only team who have scored less than Everton’s 19 and Bolton fare just slightly better with 23. Everton have failed to score in the first half of their last seven matches. Everton’s saving grace has been the second half with the Toffees scoring a league high 74% of their goals after half time.
Bolton’s saving grace has been the form of Ivan Klasnic. The Croatian forward has played a part in 11 of Bolton’s 23 goals; scoring 7 and setting up another 4. This is a sharp contrast to the contribution made by Everton’s first choice forward, Louis Saha. The experienced striker has scored once all season and failed to create a single goal.
Everton welcome Landon Donovan into the squad as the American looks to make his second Everton début. Victor Anichebe was the match winner against West Brom, after making a quicker than expected return from a groin injury. Marouane Fellaini (Abductor) and Seamus Coleman (Thigh) are both battling to be fit. Royston Drenthe’s absence at WBA was through illness and he has a chance of being fit for Bolton.
Bolton have a lengthy injury list although Darren Pratley may return after a bout of illness. Mikel Alonso remains 3 weeks away from fitness as he recovers from an ankle injury. Chung Yong Lee and Tyrone Mears are months away from fitness (Both Broken Leg). Injury prone midfielder Sean Davis is around 3 weeks short of fitness (Knee). Influential midfielder Stuart Holden is out until March with a knee injury and Ricardo Gardener is absent with a thigh injury.
Under pressure Bolton boss Owen Coyle will hope his team can register just their fourth win of the season against an Everton side that struggles at home. Both sides struggle for goals; Bolton would be even worse off without Ivan Klasnic’s contribution. Everton have developed a bad habit of dominating matches and failing to score or conceding first. The Toffees’ lack of investment is hampering their progress as they lack someone who can put the ball in the net.
Everton will look to continue their recent run which has them unbeaten in four matches. The Toffees picked up eight points from a possible 12 over the Christmas period. Bolton picked up four points from their festive fixtures and have to improve fast or risk being cut adrift at the foot of the table. Everton’s next match is away to Tottenham whilst Bolton visit Old Trafford. This makes Wednesday’s match all the more important and it is imperative both sides go all out for the win.
– Bolton have kept 1 clean sheet in their last 35 away game
– There have been exactly 2 goals in each of the last 4 meetings
– There has been a red card in 3 of the last 4 games between the two sides
– Bolton have failed to score in 5 of their last 8 meetings with Everton
– It is now 31 games since Tim Cahill’s last goal for Everton