Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers – Match Preview

Two teams suffering from a chronic lack of confidence meet at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with Arsenal taking on Bolton Wanderers in a surprise bottom of the table clash.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has overseen the worst ever start to a season during his 14 years in the dugout and will see an opportunity to get things back on track against the lowly Trotters. Optimism coursed through North London after the Frenchman’s deadline day spree saw the likes of Mikel Arteta, Santos and Per Mertesacker join the club. A respectable 1-0 win over Swansea City proceeded that as well as a hard fought Champions League draw away at Borussia Dortmund. Things were looking rosy until last week’s capitulation at Blackburn. Those defensive frailties that were supposedly remedied by the signing of Mertesacker resurfaced with the German struggling to cope with the pace and power of the Premier League. Two own goals also signified the lack of cohesion in the Arsenal rearguard with their organisation and set up decidedly amateurish which Rovers duly took advantage of to inflict a third defeat in five games on the beleaguered Wenger. Calls for a defensive coach have been dismissed despite the back four shipping 14 goals already and struggling to cope with the aerial power and speed of last weeks opposition. Bolton will provide a similar proposition and home will count for nothing despite the Gunners winning their last five against Saturday’s opponents at the Emirates.

The Trotters have completely gone off the rails losing their last four games since smashing four past QPR on the opening day of the season. Owen Coyle’s side have had a testing beginning to the campaign with games against Liverpool and both Manchester clubs ending in expected defeats. However last week’s fixture 2-1 loss at home to newly promoted Norwich left Coyle unhappy with his sides performance and will be looking for them to apply themselves better on their trip to North London. With the Gunners defensively weak the Wanderers boss may opt to start David N’Gog up front with skipper Kevin Davies to provide a prominent presence in the air. The Trotters may have to revert to their old long ball game if they want to take anything away from the Emirates and Coyle having a huge task on his hands to boost his sides confidence. The midweek Carling Cup win against Aston Villa went some way to repairing the damage with the return of Stuart Holden to the first team fold one of the many positives to come out of that game.

The American is unlikely to play any part on Saturday as he continues his recovery from a broken leg whilst Ivan Klasnic will miss out for the Trotters after he received straight red card against Norwich last week.

As for the hosts they could have Bacary Sagna available after he hobbled off at Ewood Park last week although Johan Djourou and Yossi Benayoun are definitely out.

Key Players

Mikel Arteta – He’s only a few weeks into his Arsenal career but he already looks at home with his elegant style fitting perfectly into the Gunners setup. Took his goal superb at Blackburn last week and will be eager to find the back of the net again against Bolton.

Kevin Davies – If the Trotters do opt to revert back to their old long ball game Davies will be the man they all look for. His strength in the air and bully boy approach will definitely unsettle Arsenal’s powderpuff defence that fell to pieces so easily last week at Ewood.

Verdict: 1-1

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