Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea

In this corresponding fixture last season we clinched our first top flight title for fifty years: a Frank Lampard brace saw us crowned Champions of England for only the second time in our history. We went on to finish twelve points clear of Arsenal and eighteen clear of Manchester United.

This season, our trip to the Reebok Stadium is looking like being even more important. United’s draw with Sunderland at Old Trafford yesterday (Ferguson and his ‘mind games’… bah!) has narrowed the gap at the top of the table to six points; we, of course, have a game in hand. If we defeat Bolton today and Everton on Monday, the title is all but won, though United would still be able to match our points total if they win all their remaining games and we lose all ours.

What must be of some concern is our recent form away from Stamford Bridge: just one win in the last seven games in all competitions. But last weekend’s 10-man destruction of West Ham, and United’s failure to beat Sunderland will have given the players that extra motivation; hopefully we won’t see another performance of the kind put in against Middlesbrough.

With a fully fit squad from which to choose the starting eleven, the only decision facing Jose Mourinho is whether to stick with the ‘wingerless’ 4-4-2 formation he put out against the Hammers last weekend. It’s difficult to judge how effective that actually was because after 17 minutes of playing 4-4-2 we were one player down and 1-0 down. The front pairing of Didier Drogba and Hernan Crespo appeared to function pretty well, scoring a goal apiece, but it’s not easy to assess their performance because of the impact of having ten players for the majority of the game. I’d hazard a guess that Mourinho will switch back to 4-3-3.

Prediction: It’s imperative we don’t blow the chance handed to us by United to effectively win the Premiership in the next three days: six points from our two Easter games and only an act of God can prevent us securing back-to-back titles.

After being well placed to compete for a Champions League spot with games in hand, Bolton are now in danger of missing out on a Uefa Cup place after losing four consecutive games. That’s not to say it’s going to be easy — it never is at the Reebok — but it’s nearly nine years since the Trotters last beat us on home soil. 0-2.

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Bolton Wanderers 0 – 2 Chelsea · Update

On the brink… See Drogba / Terry and Lampard’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Read Jonathan‘s Easter story here.

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Guardian; The Independent.

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