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Bolton will be tougher than you think - 21/01/2003

   Gudni Bergsson
   Simon Charlton
   Youri Djorkaeff
   Sam Allardyce
   Bolton Wanderers

Bolton are a team I admire, a forward looking, well organised team full of Sam Allardyce’s spirit. The 4-3 game at the Reebok was a great example of Premiership football, and for me, I’d love them to stay in the top flight. But this is the game in hand that’s been talked about since August, in some circles, it’s become an automatic three points, well take it from me, we’ll have to work for them!

Don’t get me wrong, Newcastle are pushing the top two in the Premiership, looking for a second consecutive season in the Champions League, and have the best home record in the Premiership. But games aren’t won on paper, and we need to be 100% focused in order to continue our dominance at St.James Park.

I see Michael Rickett’s has just handed in a transfer request and this may or may not effect his performance. If he’s selected he’ll be playing in the shop window with a ‘come and get me’ tag around his shoulders. But it’s not just Ricketts, there’s also Youri Djorkaeff who’s a class player and one who’s also in form. His goal against Charlton just goes to show what he’s capable of! I don’t know how fit Jay-Jay Okocha is, but he and the young Nolan can both get forward well from midfield. In defence there’s a great deal of experience with men like Simon Charlton, Ivan Campo and Gudni Bergsson. They’ll sit deep and hope to catch Newcastle on the break. They’ll also remember last season when they scored two excellent goals and Newcastle were fortunate to get all three points.

All told, I don’t think you’ll see any complacency but the crowd will play a part if there’s even a hint of them taking it lightly! I’ve talked about the fans giving the team another 5%, and this is certainly an occasion where they can make the atmosphere count. Bolton will defend deep and attack with only three or four players, and use three in midfield in a defensive format. An early Newcastle goal may see a change in tactics and if so, it could be an exciting game to watch! I’d love Bolton to stay up, but I hope and expect that they wont be picking up any points tomorrow night!

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