Big Sam: Jussi's key for United
By Phil Jackson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sam Allardyce has attributed Bolton's stunning start to Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Sam Allardyce has attributed Bolton Wanderers' stunning start to the new season to goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen's imperious form.
The Trotters have suffered just one Premiership defeat so far this term, keeping themselves in touch with league leaders Manchester United and Chelsea.
With 20 points already safely accrued they are already halfway towards guaranteeing their safety in the division, which is always the first main obstacle in any season.
Jaaskelainen saved two penalties to keep Blackburn Rovers at bay in the 1-0 victory last weekend and it is no surprise that Allardyce has put a large part of the team's early success down to the shot-stopper.
"We did have a look at the first 10 fixtures and we did think it was a very good chance for us to start the season well," Allardyce told Sky Sports News.
"After all the problems we have overcome behind the scenes with the injuries I think we've probably produced more wins than we expected.
"Ultimately it comes down to the goalkeeper this year. He has won us so many games that we could have drawn.
"I think that is the crucial difference and we certainly need him to be in that sort of form again on Saturday.
"If he can be and we can do what we've been doing very well recently and take the maximum opportunities we get and convert them into goals, we may have a chance of upsetting Manchester United."
The Red Devils have made a similarly good start however, as they look to end Jose Mourinho's recent dominance in English football.
And while still hopeful of achieving a result at the weekend, Allardyce is not taking anything for granted with so many big names in the opposition's ranks.
"It doesn't matter who you are, results breed confidence. Certainly the way they demolished Liverpool last week has made them grow even farther in terms of the confidence they've already got.
"Everyone goes on about Wayne Rooney and yes he has had a difficult time, but he's coming through that.
"Louis Saha has scored goals while Wayne hasn't. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have been absolutely outstanding. All around the side they are quality players.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is probably coming back to face us. It's a bit of a daunting task so I'd be delighted if we can get Man United down to not scoring.
"If we don't score I wouldn't be that bothered. I would take what we can from that point of view."