Under-Strength Teams And The Twenty-Five Man Squad Rule

There can be little doubt that, for the moment at least, the Premier League is more competitive than it has been in recent years, with just six points seperating Bolton Wanderers, in fifth place in the table, from Birmingham City, who currently occupy the third of the division’s relegation places. Even Chelsea, at the top of the table, have lost three matches from their opening thirteen. It is against this admittedly unusual background that the recent decision of Ian Holloway to make ten changes to his team for their match against Aston Villa has to be framed. Although Aston Villa only won that match by an odd goal in five (with that goal coming with just a couple of minutes of the match left to play), might a “full-strength” Blackpool team have held on for a point or managed to scrape another unlikely away win? Comparisons have been drawn between Holloway’s selection last week and that made by the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy for Wolves’ trip to Old Trafford to play Manchester United last year. McCarthy rested a number of players for this midweek match (which Wolves lost 3-0) ahead of a match against Burnley at the weekend. Wolves beat Burnley and finished the season in the Premier League, while Burnley were relegated. He would doubtlessly reason that the end of season league table vindicated his decision, but...

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