It has been a real sad state of affairs to watch on as Bolton Wanderers have struggled financially this year. I get football banter as much as the next football fan but to go what they have is unfair.
The EFL must protect football teams and not allow this kind of thing to happen. They are a founding member! And this could have so easily been Aston Villa. It was announced a couple of days ago that they would have a new owner. I am not convinced this is the end of their problems though.
Dean Smith will take his Villa side to the University of Bolton stadium. A win would make it 9 wins in a row for the first time since 1910. It would also mean Bolton will be playing League 1 football next season.
As much as I hope the corner is close for Bolton and their fans, today has to be about Villa. Three points are a must if we are to cement our place in the playoff positions.
I have already touched upon Bolton’s off the field problems but it hasn’t been much better on the field. Defeat today will confirm their relegation from the Championship. Only already relegated Ipswich sit below them in the table and they are 10 points adrift from safety.
Phil Parkinson has been their manager since 2016 and helped them return to the Championship that season. It will be interesting to see if they stick with him next season to hopefully repeat that feat.
Bolton will look to play a long-ball game as you come to expect with those struggling. They will have an aggressive approach and look to play down the right when possible. If Villa performs like we know they can, it could very well be a routine win today.
Jack Grealish is available to play after missing the win over Bristol City with illness. Tyrone Mings is also available after his one-match suspension.
The game will come too early for Jonathan Kodjia and Kortney Hause. Kodjia could be available for the game on Monday against Millwall.
Bolton will be without Jack Hobbs (back) and Luke Murphy (calf).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Predicted XI: Steer; Elmohammady, Mings, Tuanzebe, Taylor; McGinn, Whelan, Grealish; El Ghazi, Green; Abraham.
Kick off: 15.00
TV: AVTV (outside the UK)
Venue: University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton
Tickets: Sold out
Odds: Bolton 7/1 Aston Villa 4/11 Draw 19/5 (Skybet)