Bolton Wanderers vs Crystal Palace preview: Depleted Eagles face tough Cup visit to former glories hopefuls

Bolton Wanderers vs Crystal Palace preview: Depleted Eagles face tough Cup visit to former glories hopefuls

The fortunes of the two sides have been reversed in recent years but can now-League One Bolton cause an upset against a weak Palace side?

Sam Smith

Premier League side Crystal Palace travel to English Football League One side Bolton Wanderers in the third round of the FA Cup.

The Eagles reached the final last season and their quest to go one better begins at the Macron Stadium.

Differing form

Despite 29 places separating the two clubs in the English football pyramid, it will be the third-tier side going into the game with much more confidence. The Trotters are second in League One having lost just once in their last nine games. The Eagles, however, have won just once in twelve outings.

Sam Allardyce’s first few weeks as Palace boss have hardly gone to plan. He has failed to oversee a victory in his opening three games in charge, with Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Swansea City already putting him under intense pressure to deliver results as soon as possible.

Allardyce faces two of his former clubs in his next two games, with the visit to Bolton, where he made his name as a Premier League manager before leaving in 2007, a welcome opportunity to earn a first win. He then takes on West Ham United the following weekend.

Bolton’s fall from grace

It’s been a decade since Bolton parted ways with Allardyce and their journey since has been one of interest. They remained in the top-flight for a further five years before eventually being relegated in 2012. Then-boss Owen Coyle was sacked after a bad start to their Championship campaign and was replaced by Dougie Freedman, who controversially left Palace to take on the role. The Scot was unable to win promotion at the first attempt, just about missing out on the play-offs, which the Eagles went on to win and have stayed in the top-flight ever since.

The Trotters’ off-field troubles began to cause problems for the playing side. In December 2015, Bolton were handed a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs over unpaid taxes, and were immediately put under a transfer embargo. In January 2016, the club avoided an immediate winding-up order after their case was adjourned until the next month to give the club time to either seal a deal with a potential buyer or raise sufficient funds. 

They remained in the second tier for three more seasons before being relegated last May. A tough fall that many other clubs in the English Football League are far too familiar with.

However, second in the division, Bolton appear to back on their way to achieving former glories. Promotion this season will see them back in the Championship where they will look to solidify their status before planning a route back into the top-flight.

Team news

The visitors are expected to make plenty of changes for the tie having had a difficult run of fixtures that have caused fatigue to a depleted squad. Loic Remy could be set to finally make his Eagles debut having been injured since signing on loan from Chelsea in August. Julian Speroni could also beat the all-time record appearances for a Palace goalkeeper if he replaces the injured Wayne Hennessey. Young 'keeper Kleton Perntreou will earn a place on the bench. 

Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako left the squad to join their respective countries for the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving Allardyce with up to twelve first team players unavailable for selection.

Meanwhile, Bolton face an enforced change for Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie after on-loan striker Sammy Ameobi was recalled by Newcastle United.

Wanderers will also check on the fitness of defenders Lawrie Wilson and Lewis Buxton.