Seemingly invincible at home yet susceptible away: this is an image Chelsea will be eager to dispel when they venture to the Reebok Stadium today. Bolton lie in wait, smarting from Wednesday's 4-0 Carling Cup loss in London against a Blues side sprinkled with reserves. Gary Megson, the Bolton manager, described it as a harsh lesson and does not want a repeat when they meet again.
What he will be looking for is a similar effort to the one Wigan and Aston Villa put up in Chelsea's last two Premier League trips. Set-piece deficiencies were highlighted on both occasions as Carlo Ancelotti's side tasted defeat and dropped points for the only times this season. With the delivery of Matt Taylor and the aerial threat of the combative and returning Kevin Davies, Bolton have the ingredients to provide an uncomfortable afternoon for the leaders.
Petr Cech, the Chelsea keeper, has not looked entirely convincing this season and he expects a bruising, physical test. He watched the cup game from the sidelines after being rested and said it was "not the real Bolton" on show. "I expect them to play a different game," he said. "They are very aggressive and put bodies into the box. It is a big fight. "They know whatever went wrong [in the cup game] cannot be repeated or they will lose 4-0 again, and can have a different approach to the game."
What concerns Megson is Chelsea may have wisened and tightened up. "Once these big teams get put under pressure they always come up with the goods afterwards," Megson said. The statistics show Megson could be right. Since the Villa Park defeat and strong words from Ancelotti over poor marking, his side have recorded three clean sheets - making it a top-flight record of eight in succession at home - and scored 13 goals. But until they rediscover their away form, concerns over consistency will remain.
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