LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Fabrice Muamba of Bolton (L) tackles Clint Dempsey of Fulham during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 5th Round match between Fulham and Bolton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on February 20 2011 in London England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Ahead of Saturday's clash, I spoke with Matilda Hankinson of Lion of Vienna Suite to get an insight into all things Bolton Wanderers. My answers to her questions should be up on their site tomorrow morning, but here are Mark Yesilevskiy's answers to mine.1. You've found yourselves in something of a relegation fight this season. I must admit, when the campaign started, I wouldn't have put you down there. Did you think it would be such a struggle this year?
We had a lot of false hope going into the year. We were excited about the signings and the 4-0 win against QPR to start the season made us believe. It all started going downhill in preseason when both Chung-Yong Lee and Tyrone Mears broke a leg. The biggest reason that we are where we are is simply because we're missing two of our best and brightest players in Chungy and Stuart Holden.
2. Bolton have lost the joint-most amount of games in the league, and yet have won the most out of all of those in the relegation fight. Would you have taken a few bore draws for a couple of extra points?
Absolutely. Draws against any of the top eight teams would have been nice (we did get one at home to Arsenal) but I'm sure Bolton fans would have been just as happy with points from matches against the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Swansea, and Norwich.
3. Your defence has been far less impenetrable than it has been in previous seasons. What's changed to make it weaker?
Simply put, the loss of Stuart Holden. Despite the fact that Holden is a central midfielder, so much of what he does on the field helps the defense as much is it does the attackers. Holden's hold-up play is exceptional and he won't back down from a challenge. He got injured going in on a 50/50 ball against Jonny Evans. The Manchester United man had his studs up and it led to Holden getting hurt.
4. Would you take back Gary Megson if it meant you were safe from the drop right now?
No. Without hesitation, no. Megson was hated by the fans and while a number of them (incorrectly) called for Owen Coyle's head in the middle of the season, they would rather not have old Meggo back. Gary Megson had no passion and while he brought in a number of key signings, he also made some dreadfully poor ones. We were in the same exact position under Megson. The way that Owen Coyle handled the Fabrice Muamba situation only strengthened his case.
5. If you stay up, what would be your goal for next season?
I would be thrilled with a midtable finish next year. A lot less stress would be good for my health and liver.
6. Who do you see as Fulham's most threatening player, and if you could have any player from our squad, who would it be?
As an American myself, I have to say that Clint Dempsey is Fulham's most threatening player and the one I'd have. He's in the right place at the right time far too often for it to be luck or coincidence. He embodies the strength, pride, and passion that a footballer should have.
7. What do you think the final score will be?
I'll go with a stressful and hard fought 2-2 tomorrow. I'd love to see David Ngog on the scoresheet for Bolton.
8. And lastly, do you like Zat Knight?
Zat Knight is a central defender who does not know the meaning of the word "run." He looked OK last year but that was thanks in large part to the performances of Gary Cahill. This year, he's been largely useless in every sense of the word.