Allardyce calls for a Bolton backlash

Big Sam seeks another shock Cup win over Arsenal to erase memory of Boro débâcle
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The Independent Football

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce has called on his side to raise their game today or face further embarrassment. Allardyce knows there will be no hiding place at the Emirates when they face in-form Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round.

He is still coming to terms with the 5-1 defeat at Middlesbrough in the Premiership last weekend and does not want a repeat. Allardyce said: "I am just praying that result was a fluke. It was embarrassing and so unlike us. From start to finish we were annihilated."

He added: "Drawing Arsenal away is as difficult as it gets. We could have done with a similar tie to the last round when we played Doncaster. But we have got to get back on track or we will have another disappointing result on our hands."

Bolton are aiming to knock Arsenal out of the FA Cup for the second successive season. A goal from Greece winger Stelios Giannakopoulos divided the teams last time around. Allardyce added: "We have to try to nullify their strong points. They have great strength in depth when it comes to young talent. We are the underdog.

Meanwhile Allardyce is expecting big things from his new Slovakian recruits, defender Lubomir Michalik and striker Zoltan Harsanyi. Michalik, 23, has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal while 19-year-old Harsanyi is on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent. The duo were snapped up after impressing in training with the squad. Allardyce said: "We have invested in two promising Slovakian players as we are short of young talent. Hopefully they will develop with us over the next 12 to 18 months and break into the first team. Even though they are not for now I could not let them go."

Veteran striker Kevin Phillips has admitted he would sacrifice FA Cup glory for a place back in the Premiership with West Bromwich Albion. The 33-year-old Phillips will be visiting one of his happy hunting grounds when Albion take on Wolves in today's Black Country derby, having been on target there for Watford and Sunderland.

Phillips has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in his lengthy career. But the former England player would happily trade a place at the new Wembley in May to see Tony Mowbray's side back in the top flight at the first attempt.

Phillips, who has scored 11 goals this season, said: "Everyone loves a Cup run, no more than myself. I've been in the game a long time now and I've never had a really decent run. The best I've ever achieved was the quarter-finals one season with Sunderland when we lost at home to my former club Watford 1-0. That was quite disappointing.

"Of course, I'd love to get to an FA Cup final - especially with it being the first one at the new Wembley - but the main priority is promotion. That's your bread and butter and the Premiership is where you want to be. I'd sacrifice the FA Cup to gain promotion - although not in the next round against Wolves but the one after!"

Phillips can boast an excellent record in derby clashes, having been a hero at different times for Sunderland against Newcastle and Aston Villa against Birmingham. He said: "My record in derbies isn't bad and I've scored a few times at Molineux in my career. I scored there for Sunderland and Watford. It's a good place to go.

"I was disappointed when I heard the game was moved to Sunday because it has messed my weekend up. I had something planned for the Saturday! But we can go to Molineux high on confidence after a good win last Saturday [at Leeds]. Getting that away win under our belts after so long was important."

Phillips is especially keen to make an impact after missing Albion's 3-0 win over Mick McCarthy's side earlier in the season through injury. "When we played Wolves at The Hawthorns earlier in the season, the lads were fantastic. I had to miss that through injury shortly after scoring a hat-trick against Ipswich. I was gutted."

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