PreambleThere are better places for Spurs to go than the foot of Winter Hill in windswept Horwich after tearing the European champions a new one on Tuesday night. The reasons? Tottenham have never won a Premier League match at the Reebok Stadium; Kevin Davies has scored four goals in his last three home games against Spurs; Bolton under Owen Coyle are quite good these days; and Lofty the Lion is a bit frisky.
How did Gareth Bale go from being outsprinted by the trundling Jamie Carragher a year ago to being able to torment the world's best right-back? I don't really need an answer as it's probably just that he's fit and plays on the left wing these days. I just wanted to bring him down a peg or two.
But here's a question: Do Celts generally produce better wingers and jinky midfielders than the English? Without having done any research I'd argue that they do. Giggs, Best, Gemmil, Shane Williams (wrong sport I know, but it's that time of year). Is it in the genes?
There's only three points between the two teams. Bolton are 12th while Tottenham are fifth. I see 1-1 all over this one.
Geof Walker has emailed in excitedly to tell me how lucky he was to have seen the Welsh wingers Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones playing together in the Spurs side in the 60s. I'd love to see some footage of them but unfortunately this is all that can be found of Cliff Jones. Yup, not his best work.
Here's the teamsBolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Lee, Muamba, Holden, Taylor, K Davies, Elmander (Substitutes: Bogdan, Ricketts, M Davies, Petrov, Klasnic, Rodrigo, Blake)
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Bale, Kaboul, Palacios, Gallas, Modric, Crouch, Kranjcar, Sandro, Assou-Ekotto (Substitutes: Cudicini, Corluka, Bassong, Jenas, Huddlestone, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko)
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)
12.29pm: There's a hardy look to the Spurs team with Redknapp making four changes from the team that beat Inter. Gomes, Palacios, Sandro and Kranjcar coming in. Bolton remain unchanged from their unlucky 1-0 defeat to Liverpool.
12.31pm: The Guardian's chess correspondent, Leonard Barden, has just sneezed so hard at the other end of the office that I'm sure it shook my headphones.
12.33pm: Spurs look to be lining up 4-5-1 with Bale as a conventional full-back. I may be wrong, but that's a bit odd isn't it after he was so influential further forward against Inter isn't it? Liverpool and Arsenal have fallen into the trap of going to the Reebok on the back of a European win with a defensive system and have started on the back foot and gone on to lose. I'll stick with my 1-1 prediction, though.
12.39pm: Scrub my last comment. Bale is in fact on the left of midfield with Assou-Ekotto behind him at left-back.
12.40pm: Modric will play further forward for Spurs today. He was very influential in a deep-lying role against Inter but perhaps it makes more sense to keep him out of the combative stuff in the middle where Palacios and Sandro will try to wrest control of midfield from Muamba and Holden.
12.43pm: The teams make their way out of the tunnel. Spurs in light blue with Bolton in their usual all-white get-up.
12.45pm: Fred Lane emails: "Do Celts make better wingers? Cliff Jones was great, but then so was Stanley Matthews. Jimmy Johnstone was great, but then so was Steve McManaman. Does McManaman count as English or Celtic? Many English have some Celtic blood, and many Celts have some English blood. We're all mixed up - lovely!" Written like a happy Brit, Fred.
Peep! We're off. Bolton are kicking from left to right on my screen, so build a picture of that in your mind and I'll try to fill in the blanks.
2 min: There's an early chance for Bolton. Matt Taylor breaks clear of Alan Hutton, who was caught napping. The ball is played low across the edge of the penalty box from Lee, but Taylor doesn't look confident and skies his shot from 18 yards.
3 min: Bolton have made a good start. They cause Spurs trouble with a couple of long balls aimed towards Davies, funnily enough, which Spurs defend a little hesitantly. A couple of corners are defended well enough though, with Gomes pawing the second clear from under his bar.
5 min: Bale gets his first touch. He turns to face Steinsson and is given an almighty clout round the ankles and is dumped to taste the turf. Maicon didn't try that one did he? Steinsson's lucky not to enter the book for that.
6 min: Bale is back up and connects well with Crouch, who sends him clear on the left. But then Crouch isn't quick enough to get back into the box to meet Bale's cross. Nice interplay though.
8 min: My flatmate reckons I look like Johan Elmander. Hopefully I don't look like him when he's scuffing a shot horribly wide with all the composure of a caffeine-addicted chimp, as he has just done for Bolton after receiving a pass from Holden and sniffing a half-chance.
10 min: "Why isn't 'Arry playing Pavlar today?" asks Simon Alpren. "Crouch does well in Europe and when he plays with Van Der Vaart but without him and Huddlestone to find the tall man, he's a bit lost. Pav can link play with Modric much better than the lankatron." I think Redknapp's probably looked at the fixture and thought a draw wouldn't be a disaster, Simon. Sandro's just sliced a shot from the edge of the area after some neat triangle passes on the left involving Bale, who they won't stop talking about on Sky.
13 min: It's all very congested in the middle. Muamba gets jeered for going backwards, but in fairness to him, there was no obvious pass in front of him. It's been pretty ugly so far, this one.
14 min: Davies sends a trademark flick right into the path of Matt Taylor on the edge of the box, but Taylor's vicious shot tans the backside of Elmander and offside is given against the Swede. It was going wide, mind.
16 min: Modric looks to be the only midfielder capable of pulling the strings on either side. Whenever he is on the ball he is looking for the clever pass and trying to create. It may only take one of those attempted passes to come off and he could break the deadlock.
18 min: Bolton enjoy their best bit of play so far. Davies collects a Zat Knight pass midway in the Spurs half. He turns and slips Holden in, who shapes to shoot but overuns the ball and gives away a free-kick. Have I really just described that as Bolton's best passage of play? Kind of sums up the match, I suppose.
20 min: Spurs revert to trying to find Crouch with some none-too-pleasing-on-the-eye long balls from the back. But they land 10 feet away from him on every occasion. Hmmm. Heard any good music recently?
22 min: A chance! Lee dinks a ball over Assou-Ekotto which my lookey-likey Elmander runs on to. He slashes a cross into the six-yard box which Davies tries to poke a foot at, but Hutton shows good strength and shields the ball from the Bolton striker.
24 min: Modric seems to be getting a bit sick of this long-ball nonsense. He nonchalantly flicks the outside of his boot at the ball and sends Kranjcar clear on the right wing. He reaches the byline and cuts a cross back towards Crouch, but Cahill clears.
26 min: Spurs are beginning to dominate now. Bale swings in a decent cross to Crouch at the backpost. He tries to cushion a header down to the onrushing Modric, but his shot is blocked well by a combination of Knight and Cahill's thighs.
Goal! Bolton 1-0 Spurs, Davies 31: Kevin Davies gives Bolton the lead after Muamba pounces on Sandro in midfield, who looked slow in possession. The ball is fed through to Davies, who looks half-a-yard offside to me. The striker turns and strikes brilliantly into the bottom right-hand corner from 18 yards with his left foot.
33 min: I think it's fair to say that the game needed a goal. It was so very flat. And to be fair to Bolton, they deserved it for at least showing a bit more energy in the opening half-hour.
35 min: Kaboul comes racing forward on the right and leaves Taylor blowing bubbles behind him. He finds Crouch on the backpost, who turns and sends an excuse of a shot trickling towards Jaaskaleinen. Poor stuff.
37 min: Bale breaks free after Steinsson gets much too close to the winger and watches him race away on to Assou-Ekotto's pass. He plays a brilliant ball into the six-yard box but Crouch can't stretch far enough (no, really) to poke it in.
39 min: Jaaskaleinen is getting a bit of stick off Andy Gray for parrying a long-range shot from Alan Hutton instead of keeping hold of it. But it was a decent save in my opinion; wicked bounce in front of him which was never going to be easy to deal with.
41 min: Keith Tucker emails to tell me that if I want to listen to some decent music I should try a band called The Beatles. Big in the 60s apparently ...
42 min: "Gareth Bale is the U2 of football," writes Steven Hughes. "U2 also had a very short period of excellence - namely the first half of 'Achtung Baby' - but otherwise it's been faxed-in, mediocrity all the way. Obviously, this means that Bale will still have more than enough to eviserate and debone Glen Johnson when the time comes." Bale will do that when Spurs next play Liverpool, I'm pretty sure Steven. In fact I think I could do that to Johnson ... while sitting down ... in this chair ... eating a pie, so bad has he been for Liverpool this season
45 min: Modric has been Spurs' only threat this half, other than the odd flash of Bale's heels that we've seen. He wins a corner for Spurs, which Bale swings in ... to no avail.
Half-time emails"I think that long throw from Bale proves what some of us thought: He's just Rory Delap with pace," booms booms Aiden Gibson.
"Is the photo at the top Gareth trying to look baleful? He appears to have a varicose nose," guffaws Fred Lane.
A U2 fan begs to differ ... "I can only conclude that Steven Hughes was born in 1977 and didn't have access to a radio until around 1990, because if Bale's 'period of excellence' peaks at his Achtung Baby phase, Tottenham are going to enjoy some champagne nights as he works through Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree." I'm staying out of this one. I'll go and watch this while you fight it out.
Teams should be back out shortly. Barney Ronay wrote a few weeks ago that he reckons Premier League defenders have finally learnt how to stop Crouch. I reckon he's right. In Europe and for England he's still influential as he's not a player those defenders are used to. With two physical defenders on him in England he really struggles.
45 min: Pavlyuchenko is on for Palacios. So Redknapp has given Crouch some support and decided to take the game to Bolton ... which they should have done from the start, really. If you sit back against Bolton they won't hold off under Owen Coyle.
47 min: Davies plays a wonderful flick to Muamba over his left shoulder as the ball looked to be going out for a throw-in. Muamba races down the right and wins a throw. Davies flicks the throw on to Taylor, but he mis-hits his shot and Gomes collects comfortably.
49 min: Crouch and Knight who, if they stood on each other's shoulders could probably clean the Reebok's floodlights, clash like two stretched pieces of plasticine. Knight stays on the deck for a bit holding his mouth but is soon up and jogging about again.
51 min: Robinson is booked for a late tackle on Sandro. Sandro's feet were just too quick for the defender. Free-kick 25 yards out in Bale territory ...
52 min: Bale grazes the righ-hand post with Jaaskaleinen nowhere near it. It's a vicious effort that 'appears' to pick up pace as it curls.
53 min: It's a more exciting second half. Tottenham attack on the left with Bale, whose cross is blocked, and then Bolton race up the other end and win a corner.
54 min: The corner comes to nought but a few seconds later Davies plays a low cross in towards Elmander, who prods his shot at Gomes, who is on to him quickly and saves well. Then Cahill tries to lash one in from 20 yards out but watches it go inches wide as it arcs through the air. Bolton are on top.
Goal! Bolton 2-0 Spurs, Steinsson, 56 min: All the talk was of how Bale would cope with Steinsson but the defender escapes the Welsh winger and gets on to the end of a move he started on the right, lashing a low shot across Gomes into the left corner, emphatically.
58 min: So are Bolton better than Inter?
59 min: Sandro misses a sitter for Spurs after a delcious cross from the right from Hutton. The midfielder, whose shocker cost Spurs the first goal, throws his right foot at the ball instead of his head and clips the ball wide. That was cowardly more than anything else. He probably thoughrt he was going to get clattered ...
61 min: Huddlestone on, Sandro off. He's been dire. I don't know why Redknapp didn't do that earlier ...
63 min: Elmander bursts through between Gallas and Kaboul, but the former Arsenal defender does just enough to get a touch on the ball and divert it as all three of them hit the deck inside the box. Bolton fans want a penalty. They probably want better pies and cheap ale too, but they won't get it.
65 min: An email that made me smile: "I just did a a search for anagrams for Gareth Bale at wordsmith.org and my favourite was this "Beagle Hart". Given that beagles have had such a bad press over their endorsement of smoking after agreeing to partake in so many smoking tests, I find the fact that they still have heart (what does an "e" matter") for the game, very good. Maybe Rooney and his smoking habit is all part of some dog-ended plan to to reach the peak of his game. Throw it open: What are your favourite anagrams and why?" Erm, I'm a bit busy at the moment John Martin but, readers?
66 min: There's an intensity to Spurs now which must be as frustrating as hell for the fans who have travelled to Bolton and seen nothing until now.
67 min: Elmander gives Gallas no room to clear and forces him to concede a corner. The ball is delivered from the right and Davies leaps and heads narrowly wide.
69 min: Kranjcar skies one from 10 yards out under pressure from Robinson. Meanwhile, Robbie Savage has just set off for Derby's match with Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody cranked up to the max and posted this video of himself. Scott W has emailed it into me. It's quite unbelievable.
73 min: Bolton are dominant. First, Taylor hits the foot of the right-hand post with a carefully placed volley from the edge of the box; and then Muamba races into the box, turns on to his left foot with a snazzy bit of skill and then drives into the side-netting.
Goal! Bolton 3-0 Tottenham, Davies (pen, 75 min): Gallas plays a poor pass and Lee picks the ball up in the box but, as he turns, Assou-Ekotto shoves him in the back for a clear penalty. Davies steps up and calmy places it into the top right-hand corner. This is getting embarrasing for Spurs.
77 min: Elmander almost makes it four but a brave save by Gomes, who claws the ball away from the Swede's feet, saves Spurs from further ignominy.
Goal! Bolton 3-1 Spurs: Hutton drifts in from the right and evades two tackles before curling a delicious goal into the top-left of the net with his left foot. Wonderful goal but probably a little too late.
80 min: I missed a sub a couple of minutes ago. Bentley came on for Kranjcar. Soz ...
81 min: "Apparently an anagram for Cecil Parkinson is Lock Penis In Car," writes Francis Mead.. Funnily, enough that's what I was thinking when I was watching that Robbie Savage video.
83 min: Spurs can sniff just an outside chance of getting back into this. They look quicker into the tackle and full of energy now. Susceptible to a Bolton break though.
84 min: Bentley delivers a perfect cross into Pavyluchenko, but the Russian checks his run for no reason I can think other not wanting to suffer a whack in the face ... the big soft sod.
85 min: Holden concedes a free-kick 25 yards from goal after clattering Hutton, who had overun the ball.
Goal! Bolton 3-2 Spurs, Pavyluchenko, 87 min: What a goal! And what a second half. The Russian, whom I have just called a 'soft sod', smashes a wonderful volley into the top right corner of the goal from 15 yards at a very acute angle. Jaaskaleinen had no chance.
88 min: Spurs have thrown everyone forwards in the hope of salvaging a point. Bolton take advantage and break with Lee happy to go into the corner and waste time.
90 min: There'll be four minutes of added time for Bolton to hang on.
90+1 min: Amid the madness Petrov has snuck on to the pitch for Bolton and smashed one into the sidenetting.
90+2 min: Apologies for lame updates. The system has crashed.
Goal! Bolton 4-2 Spurs, Petrov, 90+3 min: Well, updates or no updates, it's all over now. Spurs push forwards and leave a huge gap behind them which Petrov exploits. Latching on to a clearance deep in Spurs' half and haring away from Gallas before dinking a smart finish over Gomes to settle it.
Full-time! Chris Foy brings to an end a manic second-half.
An interesting email from Fred Lane: "Pre-season, quite a few GU bloggers tipped Bolton to challenge for a place in the top four. Some scoffed at this. Today they ease into fifth place, beating and thus displacing the side that just licked the champions of Europe. If CL teams find it hard to deal with Crouch and Bale, I wonder what they'd make of Davies and Steinsson." Steady on now Fred. Bolton may challenge for a Europa League place again this season but I think it's stretching people's ability to suspend their disbelief to imagine Inter at the Reebok just yet. Napoli perhaps ...
Full-time thoughts: Bolton thoroughly deserved the win after bothering to take the initiative after it was clear Spurs weren't going to. The defeat doesn't suddenly make Tottenham a bad team (I still think they'll make it into the Champions League ahead of Man City) but Harry Redknapp might want to consider allowing Spurs more freedom away from home than he has doneso far this season. Thanks for your emails, of which there were many. Sorry I couldn't publish them all. Have a good weekend!
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