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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers: Can Coyle win and drag McLeish firmly into the relegation dogfight?


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Bolton Wanderers start the day in the drop zone but their Premier League future remains in their own destiny. With two games in hand on their rivals, six points from six would see the Wanderers go level on points with Aston Villa and out of the drop zone. However, it's OK having the games in hand as long as you can do the business on the pitch.

This is the rearranged fixture from last month following Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest at Spurs in the FA Cup. Bolton, quite rightly, were not in the right frame of mind to get back to action as one of their friends and team-mates lay on a hospital bed fighting for his life. The brave midfielder is now out of hospital and back with his family and Bolton are ready to lock horns with Villa.

The Trotters earned a valuable point from Swansea City at the weekend. However, wins for QPR and Blackburn mean Bolton need to start winning games and winning them soon. That result ended a run of two straight defeats and give Owen Coyle hope of beating the drop. Unfortunately their record at Villa Park is hardly the best.

Aston Villa have lost only to Bolton twice in the Premier League and only three times in total since 1955. Bolton's last success came in the Carling Cup this season when they turned Villa over 2-0 in front of their own fans. Villa though gained revenge in the league when they beat Bolton at the Reebok 2-1.

However, you can count the number of Premier League games Aston Villa have won in 2012 on two fingers. After beating Chelsea so emphatically at Stamford Bridge on New Year's Eve everyone thought Villa would push on for a European place. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out that way and Villa fans have only watched their side take maximum points off Wolves and Fulham since. Three draws and three defeats in their last six have kept the pressure on Alex McLeish and relegation remains a distinct possibility.

The one thing you can guarantee from Villa is a tight defence. They have only lost four games this calendar year by more than one goal and Alex McLeish, who was a great defender in his days with Willie Miller at Aberdeen, knows all about organising a back four. It's his attacking intent which has been the problem for Villa fans. They have scored just 13 goals in their past 15 league games. That is not good enough, especially with a side that boasts the likes of Agbonlahor, Ireland and N'Zogbia - who hasn't sparkled at all since joining from Wigan.

This will be a tense affair. Neither side will want to lose but Bolton need to win to give their survival hopes a lift. Who will come out on top? Our pundits are going with the home side.

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers; Kick Off 7.45pm April 24 2012

Prediction Panel

Arsenal

Don McMahon

1

V

0

Aston Villa

Frank Pattison

2

V

1

Blackburn

Terry Kennedy

2

V

1

Bolton

Dave Blackburn

1

V

1

Chelsea

Joe Tyler

1

V

2

Everton

Chris Goodwin

2

V

0

Fulham

Neil Springate

1

V

0

Liverpool

Mark Williams

1

V

1

Man City

Callum Rothwell

2

V

1

Man Utd

Peter Lee

1

V

0

Newcastle

Michael Stout

1

V

0

Norwich City

Sue Read

1

V

1

QPR

Arjun Swaminathan    

0

V

0

Stoke City

Philip Eccleston

1

V

0

Sunderland

Tony Ratton

2

V

1

Tottenham

Mike Richards

2

V

1

Swansea

Jim White

2

V

1

West Brom

Andy Wakeman

0

V

0

Wigan

Alan Moore

1

V

1

Wolves

Chris Cox

2

V

0

 

 

 

 

 

OUR EXPERTS

 

 

 

 

Writer

Colin Illingworth

1

V

2

Writer

Steve Coulter

1

V

1

Writer

Phil Bundy

1

V

0

Writer

Mitch Waddon

1

V

0

Writer

Matt Turner

TBA    

V    

TBA

Writer

Chris Pettitt

2

V

1

Writer

Hugh Larkin

2

V

1

Aston Villa fan

Lynette Ranson

TBA

V

TBA

Blackpool fan

Phil Trow

1

V

1

Boro fan

Sue Gardener

TBA

V

TBA

Fulham fan

Russell Goldman

2

V

1

Pompey fan

Dan Taylor

2

V

2

Pompey fan

Peter Rendle

1

V

1

West Ham fan

Matthew Beeby

0

V

1

West Ham fan

Nigel Telfer

2

V

1

Editor

Antony Melvin

1

V

1

Panel Verdict

Aston Villa are tipped to finally secure their Premier League survival.

Home: 19; Draw: 11; Away: 3. TBA 3

* Do we have it right or do you know better? We’d love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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