Chelsea FC: Predicting and Previewing Starting 11 for Bolton vs. Chelsea
With Fernando Torres serving the first of his three-game suspension, it's likely Didier Drogba will start for Chelsea.
Bolton Wanderers will be without their top scorer, Ivan Klasnić, who is serving a suspension. Chelsea supporters will not be able to see Gaël Kakuta as he is ineligible to face his parent club.
Do you know how many games Bolton have won against Chelsea in the last 15 league meetings? Zero.
Let's review Chelsea's starting 11 against Bolton and preview the game.
Goalkeeper: Petr Čech
Even if Petr Čech was to be rotated (don't see the point), Hilário is still nursing a hip injury though Ross Turnbull played well against Fulham.
It was his first competitive game in almost a year.
Čech should start.
Right Back: José Bosingwa
José Bosingwa was away on leave against Swansea, and modest Frenchman Jérémy Mathieu was having another terrific game (he had humiliated Javier Mascherano at right back the week before) until he ran out of gas.
Bosingwa really needs to be more aware on his defence.
Though as I've said before, I believe Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas has a preference toward Portuguese players, so until Bosingwa makes a mistake costing Chelsea, it's unlikely he'll be dropped.
Ideally, I'd like to see Branislav Ivanović at right back.
Centre Back: John Terry
Bolton Wanderers will be hoping John Terry scores a game-winning own goal for them, like he did in 2003.
Centre Back: David Luiz
Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas has yet to play David Luiz in a Premier League game.
Surely with the Brazilian fully fit, it would only be logical to restore him back to the starting 11.
Left Back: Ashley Cole
To think five years ago Ashley Cole cost Chelsea £5 million plus the Carlos Tévez of defenders, William Gallas.
Remember the Frenchman threatened to score own goals if he wasn't sold.
What a transfer it was.
I've been keeping tabs on Patrick van Aanholt, who is on loan at Wigan Athletic.
Keep in mind, the youngster has already forced Maynor Figueroa out of position into centre back, and the Honduran looks as comfortable at centre back as Martin Škrtel at right back.
Here's what Wigan manager Roberto Martínez said about van Aanholt: "I just feel Patrick has got such a fantastic career ahead of him and we are very privileged to have him with us."
Holding Midfielder: John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel played reasonable well against Valencia and surprisingly was better in defence than offence.
One of my criticisms of Mikel was, for a player protecting the back four, he isn't a particularly good defender.
He made one or two good interceptions and made two crucial blocks.
You can critique him for his limited passing but that's his role: to keep it simple like Lucas does for Liverpool.
Centre Midfielder: Ramires
It was a mistake for Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas to substitute Ramires against Valencia, and it will be a mistake for him to drop the Blue Kenyan from the starting 11.
Ramires' box-to-box running has been a sight to be hold, though his one-on-one misses have been cringe-worthy.
Centre Midfielder: Frank Lampard
Rather than spit the dummy like Carlos Tévez, Frank Lampard reminded Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas of his worth.
Why drop a player who just played a good game? He should be given another start and if he doesn't influence the game, then drop him.
Villas-Boas dropped Fernando Torres against Sunderland, sparking the Spaniard's revival.
Villas-Boas took Lampard off against Manchester United at halftime and then dropped him against Swansea.
We all know what happened next against Valencia. He scored and played well.
Right Forward: Juan Mata
For a guy that seemed pretty composed, Juan Mata lost it against Valencia, when he was denied the opportunity to take a free kick during the dying moments of the game by referee Nicola Rizzoli.
Ashley Cole smartly sprayed a few verbal bombs before charging off, whereas Mata kept mouthing off at referee Rizzoli. Thankfully the Italian was diplomatic and didn't send the Spaniard off, because that would have been a real bummer.
Mata didn't have the best of games against Valencia, maybe because of the emotions of returning to a club that rescued his career after Real Madrid rejected him.
Either way, I feel it would be more beneficial for Mata to play on the right so he has the option to shoot or to cut into the centre and dink in a Xavi-esque pass like he did against Swansea.
Maybe in the future, Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas tinkers his formation to fit Mata in a more central role.
Not only is he a defensive liability out wide, but you'd think he'd be able to impact the game more in a central position as opposed to a wide position.
Centre Forward: Didier Drogba
With Fernando Torres suspended, it's easy to just slot Didier Drogba into the centre.
In the past six games against Bolton Wanderers, Drogba has scored five.
Left Forward: Florent Malouda
Florent Malouda was so-so against Valencia. I mean statistically he was good in registering an assist, but he didn't do a lot.
It was a refreshing sight to see him play out wide, as generally he navigates himself toward the centre and almost plays like a second striker.
Why else does he nick so many goals?
Therein lies a problem: what happens if he isn't scoring goals or providing assists? He's out of position if he's supposed to play out wide.
With the formation being a 4-1-2-3, Malouda is expected to stay on the left and provide some incisive crosses to Didier Drogba.
Plus, I feel the Frenchman's relationship with Drogba is much much better than Torres. I've seen some times where Torres is free, though Malouda decides not to pass to him. Yet if Drogba was in the same position, Malouda would pass to him.
Predicted Formation and Starting 11
With John Obi Mikel, the formation can never be a true 4-3-3, because it will always be a 4-1-2-3, considering Mikel plays just in front of the back four.
With the Nigerian in front of him, David Luiz would be given more license to roam. In fact, I envision the Brazilian replacing Mikel in the long term.
Ramires is the engine, whereas Lampard is dependable in possession and will need to score more goals and provide more assists.
The two main queries I guess will be raised?
Why no Raul Meireles?
As of late, he hasn't played well enough. If Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas adopts this authoritarian style in dropping players, then he has to do the same with his fellow compatriots. Meireles will be the first and if José Bosingwa doesn't shape up his defending, he'll be the next.
Why no Nicolas Anelka?
I'm aware he has scored five goals in the last eight games against Bolton Wanderers, though it would be more beneficial to the team if he plays as an impact sub. Plus, Florent Malouda at least keeps up with opposing players whereas defending isn't in Anelka's vocabulary. Same applies with Juan Mata but because he's so brilliant, he gets a pass.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Chelsea | 4-4-2 vs. 4-1-2-3
We've talked enough about Chelsea; let's look at Bolton Wanderers.
Their defence has been all over the place. Grétar Steinsson forgot how to defend against Arsenal. Zat Knight is a walking calamity. Paul Robinson isn't a Premier League-standard defender.
I wouldn't be surprised if Dedryck Boyata was given a shot at centre back, though the youngster has played at right back this season.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle may have good intentions to change the philosophy of the team.
But as far as I'm concerned, Bolton still have the same traits of a Sam Allardyce team. They averaged 14 fouls a game last season, the highest in the league. They had the fourth-worst disciplinary record and averaged 25 tackles a game.
Tell me your starting 11 for Chelsea against Bolton Wanderers.
Also predict the result.
Please read Premier League: Worst 11 of the Week