|Bolton Wanderers 2 v 3 Leeds United|
Sunday, 6th August 2017 Kick-off 16:30
Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v Leeds United - Whites Take on Newly-Promoted Trotters
Saturday, 5th Aug 2017 11:52 by @LucasMonk_
Tomorrow will signify the beginning of a new era at Leeds United - as head coach Thomas Christiansen takes charge of a competitive fixture in English football for the first time.
In a match that will doubtless evoke intrigue in many observers, two sides possessed of wildly contrasting ambitions ahead of the new campaign shall meet at the Macron Stadium tomorrow.
Bolton Wanderers, whose supporters have endured little more than abject misery since relegation from the Premier League at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, harbour hopes of comfortably eluding a - physically and mentally - strenuous relegation skirmish following automatic promotion from League One last season - a seldom moment of elation for a club who have been acutely afflicted by turmoil in recent years. The architect of that success, manager Phil Parkinson, performed remarkably to guide the club to an immediate return to the second-tier in spite of a transfer embargo foisted upon Wanderers by the Football League, warfare between owner Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth in addition to the sale of Zach Clough to Nottingham Forest in January.
Having returned to the Championship at the first time of asking, Bolton have moved swiftly in an attempt to consolidate their position in the division by recruiting a vast number of new signings. Winger Sammy Ameobi joined from Newcastle on a permanent basis after a loan spell in the colours of Wanderers last season, while veteran forward Aaron Wilbraham and full-back Mark Little both signed contracts at the Macron Stadium following the expiry of their Bristol City contracts. Manager Parkinson has shown an alacrity to venture into the loan market throughout his managerial career to date and defenders Reece Burke (West Ham) and Antonee Robinson (Everton), in addition to midfielder Josh Cullen (West Ham) and nimble forward Adam Armstrong (Newcastle) have all signed temporary deals with Wanderers ahead of the new season.
A robust, direct and workmanlike team, Bolton are anticipated to be among those competing for survival this season but will be eager to make an early impression in front of their own supporters.
Having been deprived of a play-off berth by a narrow margin last season, there is an added hunger present in all those associated with Leeds United to ensure that the club better the league position of 7th that was achieved under the now Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk in 2016-17. In a frenetic summer at Elland Road thus far, a new head coach in the form of erstwhile Spain international, Thomas Christiansen, has been appointed and a continental approach to recruitment adopted under new owner Andrea Radrizzani. The club’s complement of new recruits includes esteemed players such as Dutch midfielder Vurnon Anita and former Werder Bremen goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald, in addition to Macedonia and Poland internationals Ezgjan Alioski and Mateusz Klich.
Radrizzani’s tenure has also seen United repurchase Elland Road and, given the progressivity that has been discernible in the club’s actions since he acquired full control of the club, there is a firm belief that Leeds will be capable of mounting a siege upon the Championship’s loftier reaches this season.
Victory in this, the first match of the season for both sides, is imperative if either are to lay claim to being capable of achieving what is expected of them this season. Leeds are, without the merest shadow of a doubt, the favourites, but could Phil Parkinson’s rugged charges provide a difficult beginning to Thomas Christiansen’s time in England? Time shall tell.
Wanderers manager Phil Parkinson will be possessed of a great many options with regard to team selection tomorrow, as all 10 of the Manchester club’s summer signings are available. Adam Le Fondre is widely anticipated to partner Gary Madine in attack while right-back Mark Little could receive a debut following the completion of his move from Bristol City.
Thomas Christiansen will take charge of his first match in English football - his only prior experience in management having come in spells with AEK Larnaca and APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus - with a full squad of players from which to select his inaugural matchday squad. New Zealand talisman Chris Wood, who topped the division’s scoring charts last season, will most certainly start in attack while on-loan defender Matthew Pennington will partner Liam Cooper in central defence due to the suspension of Pontus Jansson.
In recent times, the hosts have endured a barren sequence of results against Leeds. The Trotters have failed to inflict defeat upon the Whites in their last five matches against them, with their last victory over United coming in March 2014 - an emphatic 5-1 triumph away from home.
The last meeting between the sides occurred in March 2016 at Elland Road; United were 2-1 victors courtesy of a sumptuous brace from Italian forward Mirco Antenucci, with Kaiyne Woolery netting a consolation for Bolton.
Throughout history there have been 64 encounters between the two, of which Leeds have won 26 and Bolton 23 - there have been 15 draws.
The venue of the match is Bolton's Macron Stadium - opened in 1997.
As the match is to be broadcast on television, there shall be a belated kick-off time of 4:30pm.
The match will be officiated by referee Simon Hooper and his assistants Daniel Robathan and Philip Dermott, with Tony Harrington acting as a fourth official.
Memorable Match: Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Leeds United - Emirates FA Cup (2015-16)
In a highly competitive FA Cup tie in January 2016, goals from Souleymane Doukara and Toumani Diagouraga ensured the progression of Leeds into the fifth round of the competition under the management of the now Mansfield manager - Steve Evans.
Bolton Wanderers: Gary Madine
A 26 year-old forward of a rugged complexion, Madine is widely recognised as being an imposing and abrasive target-man who is aerially adept and thus allows for direct football to be played by Wanderers. The forward played an integral role as Bolton secured an immediate return to the second-tier last season; the former Sheffield Wednesday player contributed 9 goals and 7 assists in 36 league appearances.
Leeds United: Chris Wood
The scorer of no less than 30 goals in all competitions last season, Chris Wood will be eager to open his account for the new season as promptly as possible. Now 25, the former Leicester City striker is indisputably one of United’s most salient stars and will bear a significant influence in any successes that Leeds are to enjoy in 2017-18.
At long last. A new season is upon us and, for the first time in seemingly aeons, there is good cause for unbridled optimism among myself and every other Leeds United supporter.
Andrea Radrizzani’s noble quest to modernise the football club has already yielded the repurchase of our home - Elland Road - in addition to a sizable influx of exciting signings and now, the first question of our promotion credentials is to be posed by newly-promoted Bolton.
Though they are by no means whatsoever the favourites for this fixture, Wanderers are a direct, robust outfit who will provide a stern test of United’s abilities. It's imperative to note that facile matches in the English second-tier are much like Millwall supporters who aren't knuckle-dragging neanderthals - neither exist. I anticipate a competitive match; though I do take the view that this is a game in which Leeds should secure victory given our comparatively high expenditure in the transfer market.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Leeds United
Photo: Action Images
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