One of the keys to Tottenham's superb first half of the season was their strong defence. And no-one was more influential in that than Brad Friedel. The American keeps breaking records and is a credit to himself and the sport. There have always been younger keepers at all the Premier League clubs he's been at, knocking at the door to take his place. But Friedel just keeps on working at his game, training hard, looking after his body and is hungry to keep on playing. For my money he's right up there with the very best keepers the Premier League has had. Peter Schmeichel is normally regarded as the best this league has seen and it's hard to argue with that. But after him I'd probably nominate David Seaman. Yes, of course I'm a little biased! But I played in front of him for years and it wasn't just the saves he made, it was also his presence. We always felt secure with him in goal and never thought he was about to make a mistake. Very similar to Friedel.
Another reason why Spurs did so well at the start of the season was the form of Emmanuel Adebayor. If anyone ever accuses him of being a little selfish, they only need to look at the assists column. It reads 12 to go with the 13 goals he's scored so far. The problem is that the big contributions have dried up of late. Since that 5-2 defeat at Arsenal, he's played seven matches and contributed with just two goals (no assists), both in a 3-1 win over Swansea. So for all the talk of Harry Redknapp being linked to the England job affecting results and some fatigue in the camp, it's fair to say that if Adebayor had carried on playing to the same standard as he was in the first half of the season, results would have been better of late. But it's been a good season for him overall and I have the feeling he likes it at White Hart Lane. Spurs would be advised to sign him up on a permanent deal.
A bit like Wigan, Bolton have saved their best performances for when it's mattered the most. At the business end of the campaign. They followed up a superb win at Villa Park with a good point at Sunderland and having traded at just 1.412/5 for the drop, they're now out to 2.6613/8. With Wolves gone and Blackburn all but down it looks to be a straight shoot-out between them and 1.695/7 QPR. A win here would probably leave the west Londoners with too much to do. I'm not sure they'll get it here but I think they can at least avoid defeat so I'm laying Spurs at 1.9720/21.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Spurs' performances on the road of late have been rather uninspired. But the recent trend has been for low-scoring games. They drew 0-0 with Sunderland and Chelsea and lost 1-0 at both Everton and QPR in their last four away from home.
Earlier on in the season Bolton were everyone's over 2.5 goals banker. They scored a few, they conceded a lot more. But they've kept things a little bit tighter of late and I think this could go the same way and I like 2.186/5 on under 2.5 goals.
Sometimes a club having a super player on loan creates problems. At the back end of last season Daniel Sturridge was superb for Bolton, offering them pace and goals. But the Trotters didn't really learn how to cope without him this season and have at various times experimented with different players and formations in a bid to score goals.
Ivan Klasnic is the team's top scorer with just eight in the league. He hasn't started that many matches recently and Kevin Davies got two goals at Sunderland so he's likely to start again here. But Owen Coyle may decide to be positive and play Klasnic and Davies upfront together. The Croatian looks a decent price at around 10.09/1 to open the scoring and he's worth a small bet.
2 pts Lay Spurs @ 1.9720/21
1 pt Back under 2.5 goals @ 2.186/5
1 pt Back Ivan Klasnic to be first goalscorer @ 10.09/1.