Bolton Wanderers

Bolton vs. Blackburn: Muamba Update, Preview, Live Stream, Start Time and More

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17:  Fabrice Muamba (L) of Bolton and Dickson Etuhu (R) of Fulham compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Bolton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on December 17, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2012

One week after the scary incident involving Fabrice Muamba, Bolton will return to the pitch to take on Blackburn in a crucial Premier League match. Both teams are fighting to avoid relegation, so there will be a lot at stake in what's sure to be an emotional game.

The Trotters currently sit two points behind Queens Park Rangers for the final safe position, but do have a game in hand after their clash with Aston Villa was delayed. While it won't be easy for them to be focused purely on football Saturday, they don't have any other option.

Blackburn is five points clear of the relegation zone thanks to consecutive victories over Wolverhampton and Sunderland. A win over Bolton would finally give them enough clearance to start sleeping a little easier at night, but a loss would leave them in serious danger heading into the stretch run.

 

Where: Reebok Stadium in Bolton, England

When: Saturday. March 24 at 11 a.m. ET

Watch: FoxSoccer.tv

Betting Odds: Bolton +125, Blackburn +200, Draw +230

 

Fabrice Muamba Update

Muamba's family released a statement on Friday to thank fans for all the well wishes since the Bolton midfielder collapsed due to cardiac arrest against Tottenham (via Yahoo! News):

"Even though Fabrice has made great progress over the last couple of days, he is still in intensive care, and still has a long period of recovery ahead," Muamba's fiancee Shauna Magunda and his father Marcel said in a statement on Friday.

"Thank you to everyone for the love, prayers and support over the past few days."

 

Player to Watch for Bolton: Tim Ream

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Tim Ream of Bolton Wanderers holds off a challenge from Gareth Barry of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers at the Etihad Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Manche
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ream has held his own since arriving from the New York Red Bulls. The 24-year-old American was brought in to replace Gary Cahill and, while it will take him awhile to live up to Cahill's standards, he's off to a respectable start.

The most important thing for him moving forward will be to start being more aggressive. He's been a little tentative at times, as most players new to the Premiership are. Now that he has some experience under his belt, however, it's time to start establishing himself.

Bolton were wise to snag him from the MLS early, because he has a bright future ahead of him. His value will only continue to skyrocket in the coming seasons.

 

Player to Watch for Blackburn: Junior Hoilett

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - MARCH 20:  Junior Hoilett of Blackburn Rovers battles with David Vaughan of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland at Ewood park on March 20, 2012 in Blackburn, England.  (Photo by
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Hoilett has been a dominant force over the past few weeks, scoring three goals in his last two starts. He's sure to generate a lot of interest during the summer if the Rovers are unable to lock him up with a contract extension.

It took a couple years for him to find his footing with Blackburn, but the results have started to show, rewarding the team for their dedication. He's become a far more complete player, and has started to find ways to contribute even when he's not scoring.

The Rovers have to do everything within their power to keep him beyond this season, but helping them avoid relegation would be a nice consolation prize if a deal can't be reached.

 

Key Matchup: Zat Knight vs. Yakubu

Yakubu will be the most dynamic offensive threat on the pitch. He's netted 21 goals in 14 games for Blackburn after arriving from Everton to pace the Rovers offense. The Toffees wish he would have produced like that while with them.

Slowing him down will be the task of Knight. The veteran defender has been in and out of the Bolton lineup in recent weeks, but gives the Trotters their best chance of keeping Yakubu at bay. His steady presence at the back will be welcomed on a tough day.

Both guys have struggled with consistency, so it's impossible to know how they'll perform on Saturday. Whichever one steps up will give his team an advantage.

 

Prediction

Bolton 2, Blackburn 1

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