Preview: Bolton vs Fulham

George Singer 8th February 2018

Fulham are on the road this Saturday trying to extend their already record-breaking run of wins against Bolton Wanderers. Running the rule over the trotters, it’s George Singer with all your facts and figures.

Their Recent Results

W: Bolton 1-0 Bristol City
D: Bolton 1-1 Ipswich Town
L: Brentford 2-0 Bolton
W: Bolton 1-0 Hull
W: Sheffield United 0-1 Bolton

Our Recent Meetings

October 2017: Fulham 1-1 Bolton
May 2016: Fulham 1-0 Bolton
December 2015: Bolton 2-2 Fulham
February: Bolton 1-3 Fulham

Match Odds with Grosvenor Casino

Bolton: 29/10
Draw: 49/20
Fulham: 23/25
Fulhamish Tip: Fulham to win 3-1 and Mitrovic to score last is at 45/1 with Grosvenor

New players at Grosvenor Casino get a £20 sign-up bonus, and double odds on your first bet up to £10.

Hello and welcome to another edition of Before the Whistle! Today I take a look at our next opponents Bolton Wanderers, and what we need to do as we attempt 6 wins in a row, and go home from the Macron Stadium with 3 points.

Last time we played

When Bolton visited the Cottage in October, Fulham went into the match as clear favourites. However, the Whites again flattered to deceive – continuing to suffer from our post-playoff hangover. After knocking on the door constantly throughout the game, and mustering 19 shots, it took a last minute equaliser to ensure the points were shared, and deny a scrappy Bolton team their first away win of the season.

The first half was a story of Fulham pushing hard, but being a little unlucky not to score. Ayite’s finish from a delicate Cairney through-ball was harshly judged to be offside, and Kamara was inches away from scoring later in the half – with a delicate chip hitting the woodwork. However, Bolton took the lead with a first half goal from Sammy Ameobi – with a classic example of poor Fulham defending. A clumsy long ball forward from the Trotters wasn’t claimed by any Fulham defender. This gave an opportunity for Sammy Ameobi to control the ball, muscle his way past Tim Ream and finish well into the bottom corner.

Fulham toiled well in the second half, creating chance after chance but unable to finish them. It took until the 94th minute for captain Cairney to head home a rare Kevin McDonald cross to ensure that the points were shared.

Likely Bolton lineup

Bolton’s 3-5-1-1 lineup against Bristol City – the first time Parkinson used the unconventional system

In their first match since the January transfer window slammed shut, Bolton tried an unconventional 3-5-1-1 in a successful win against a crumbing Bristol City. Throughout the season, Phil Parkinson has tended to prefer a 4-2-3-1 – with their play heavily reliant on balls forward to Gary Madine. However, as the big man left on deadline day to go to Cardiff, Parkinson is clearly looking into unconventional alternatives to fit a team together.

What can we expect from Bolton?

Bolton’s scoring stats: Madine lead the way and will be a big miss

Bolton’s attacking philosophy throughout the season has been a fairly simple one: get the ball forward to Madine. They were a team built around his skillset, with the Trotters commonly using his physicality to win crosses into the box. Losing him will give them 2 things to worry about:

  • How can they replace his goals?
  • Will they start to play a different brand of football?

Madine’s deadline day replacements were 2 Forest strikers on loan: Tyler Walker and local hero Zach Clough. Whilst both promising strikers, neither offer the same physical threat and therefore Bolton will need to change the way they attack. Perhaps this is why Ameobi moved centrally against Bristol City – as Bolton tried to offer something new in the centre of the pitch.

Championship xG scored vs Conceded: Bolton in the top left, exactly where they don’t want to be

Bolton also have one of the weakest defences in the league. They concede shots in more dangerous positions than anyone else, and average 0.15 xG per shot conceded – the worst in the league. This essentially means every shot that Bolton concede has a 15% chance of going in the back of the net. For a team that tend to concede more than 10 shots a game, it’s no wonder that they find themselves in the middle of a relegation scrap.

Man to watch: Sammy Ameobi

The man who scored against us at the cottage is a real handful, and now the clear dangerman in the Bolton team. Whilst he’s running a little hot with his scoring, he’s clearly a talented player and one we’ll need to watch out for.

Ameobi’s radar: clearly a strong dribbler and works hard for the team

His shooting numbers aren’t necessarily anything to write home about, which is perhaps understandable for someone playing out wide in a struggling team. However he’s a real physical presence – providing good defensive cover, dribbles a lot with a good success rate. With Madine leaving the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if Parkinson continues deploying Ameobi more centrally – giving him more opportunities to contribute to the scoresheet.

Ameobi’s shot map – the winger is clearly not afraid to hit the ball from distance

Notes for Slav

It’s hard to predict exactly how Bolton will line up, as they adjust to life without Gary Madine. However Fulham should feel that they should go into this match (again) as clear favourites. Bolton’s defence is still really poor, and their attack will need to transition into one without a target man.

If we play our natural game, there’s no reason we shouldn’t come away with the 3 points. The main focus of the team, defensively, will be nullifying the attacking threat of Ameobi. This is where having a left back with Premier League quality in Targett will really help us, as he gives us more stability on our left flank. There seems little need to change our winning formula in our recent lineup, which I would predict should be more than enough to seal the win.

This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.