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Bolton now Wanderers in wilderness since Premier League relegation

Bolton Wanderers have scored just once in their last seven meetings with Chelsea in all competitions. Needless to say, they lost each and every one of those encounters.

The Blues, by contrast, netted an average of three per game (22 in total) in those encounters, so it’s no wonder the Trotters are rank 14/1 outsiders with Coral to upset Jose Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge stars in the Capital One Cup by winning in 90 minutes. They are also long at 8/1 to qualify from the tie.

For Wanderers, this trip to the capital serves as a timely reminder for fans of what they used to enjoy when the Lancashire outfit dine at English football’s top table during more than a decade between 2001 and 2012.

Those days when Sam Allardyce, in particular, persuaded the likes of World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff and Real Madrid icon Fernando Hierro to both extend their club careers are so far removed from the Totters’ pulling power now.

No longer are strikers of world renown like Nicolas Anelka and Mexico’s record scorer Jared Borgetti plying their trade at Bolton. Instead, Bolton boss Dougie Freedman has taken a punt on Max Clayton, the latest precocious youngster off Crewe Alexandra’s production line, to help drag Wanderers out of the wilderness. He’s 11/2 to be on target anytime.

Joe Mason, prolific for the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s, is now in his third Trotters loan spell and remains the great hope, as managerial turnover and so many striking options at parent club Cardiff City mean his future surely lies here. He hit a hat-trick in Wanderers’ only Championship win of the season so far over Rotherham United, but is a 100/1 shot to shock Chelsea in similar fashion. For just one goal in this game, Mason is a 5/1 chance.

It’s seasoned campaigners Neil Danns (8/1 in the anytime market) and Jermaine Beckford (4/1), neither of who really cut it at Premier League level for other clubs, that have given Bolton a rare and dramatic refuge from the ravages of a struggling Championship campaign. Wins over Bury and Crewe, both after extra time, and each with the same 3-2 scoreline demonstrate their difficulties in even overcoming lower league opposition.

The Trotters, who sit outside the Championship relegation zone on goal difference, will be underdogs themselves at the Bridge, yet they should be spared Chelsea’s deadly Brazilian-born Spain striker Diego Costa, as Mourinho may opt to rest his hamstring. Didier Drogba, who just has the eight career goals against Wanderers, could step into the breach despite his advancing years and is 10/11 for net here.

Loic Remy could more likely be handed a first Blues start, hence his odds-on 8/11 favourite price in the anytime scorer market. A Bolton backline that includes Matt Mills and Dorian Dervitte, who failed to make the grade at established top six Premier League sides Manchester City and Spurs, will do well to contain Mourinho’s men and keep the score down.

Freedman moved to bolster defensive areas with the loan signing of Aston Villa and Australia utility man Chris Herd, while the Trotters have taken another former Leeds United keeper on their books after snapping up Paddy Kenny on a free. With Adam Bogdan injured, Wanderers could hand the ex-Republic of Ireland stopper a start if Andy Lonergan is rested.

It’s a monumental task for Bolton at the Bridge, but for 90 minutes at least they will wander the same turf as colossal Chelsea.