Sunderland 3 Bolton Wanderers 1: Jones outshines eternal wanderer Anelka in showcase for January sale

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The Independent Online

Imagine you are a Chelsea scout charged with finding a short-term partner, and possible long-term replacement, for Didier Drogba. The Stadium of Light on Saturday might have been an unusual destination for such a person, given that this was a relegation battle between two sides who have never appeared in the Champions League.

However, the presence of a class wanderer like Nicolas Anelka in the Bolton side was reason for travel. At 28, with experience of Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool behind him, and with an apparent undiluted appetite, Anelka seems to tick as many boxes as a Chelsea scout could fit on the back of an envelope.

One of those is that Anelka is "gettable" in January, should the money be right, having informed his manager, Gary Megson, on 2 December at Anfield according to those inside Bolton, that Chelsea is his preferred move in this window. Remaining at Bolton does not seem like an option.

Not that Megson has given up hope. On 2 January Bolton host Derby and, unable to win away, they need Anelka for that game. But then it is Sheffield United in the FA Cup on Saturday and, as Anelka is already ineligible for Europe due to Bolton's Uefa Cup campaign, Chelsea presumably would not want him ruled out of the Cup, too.

"Nothing has happened," Megson said of official contact from Chelsea. "It is hypothetical, but it may become apparent. If it does, we will have to deal with it, but everyone is going to have to be onside Bolton, the club that wants to take him away and the biggest component, Nic. Transfers have to suit three parties the selling club, the buying club and the player.

"It's not a case of persuading him to stay at Bolton because we're not at that position. He's very well liked at the club, the supporters adore him and he's scoring a lot of goals. Nic is entirely the opposite to his reputation. We get on very well, he's a terrific person, likes a laugh and a joke. No one at Bolton wants Nic go anywhere; we hope Nic falls into that category."

In a strange, slack Bolton performance, Anelka was just as bad as the rest. He did not shine, he did not score. El Hadj Diouf did a fluke of a free-kick that made it 2-1 four minutes before half-time.

In contrast to Anelka was Kenwyne Jones. Sunderland's 6m striker was 23 in October and is having his first sustained tilt at the Premier League. The Trinidadian does not like to be compared to Drogba but he had that winning effect on Saturday.

Jones, through skill and power, teed up Kieran Richardson for the 13th-minute opener and then scored the second with a fiery header. Jones' colleagues wore the anxiety of one win in their previous 13 games after that, but Jones' injury-time header to Daryl Murphy finally brought calm.

Sunderland are aware that Jones has also been linked to Chelsea and their manager, Roy Keane, has said already: "Kenwyne's going nowhere." But Jones ticked more boxes than Anelka on Saturday and it is not unfeasible that Keane could discover a downside to buying well.

Goals: Richardson (13) 1-0; Jones (32) 2-0; Diouf (41) 2-1; Murphy (90) 3-1.

Sunderland (4-4-2) Gordon; Whitehead, McShane, Higginbotham, Collins; Chopra (Leadbitter, h-t), Etuhu, Miller, Richardson (O'Donovan, 70); Jones, Cole (Murphy, 57). Substitutes not used: Ward, Waghorn.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1) Jaaskelainen; Samuel (Guthrie, 57), A O'Brien, Meite, Gardner; J O'Brien; Davies (Stelios, 74), Nolan (Campo, 87), McCann, Diouf; Anelka. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, Michalik.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Sunderland Richardson Bolton Davies, Diouf.

Man of the match: Jones.

Attendance: 42,058.

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