Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Arsenal's Premier League Trip To Bolton Wanderers Previewed

After the thrills and spills of Sunday's FA Cup victory over Aston Villa it's back to Premier League action for Arsenal with a trip to struggling Bolton Wanderers. Despite qualifying fr the last 16 of the FA Cup Arsenal have lost their last three league games. It's a run which has left them five points behind fourth placed Chelsea, and in need of a victory.

Arsenal started the season poorly, and their away form in particular was very bad. They only managed one point from their first four away games, but eventually they turned things around to win four of their next five games on the road. The only defeat during that run was a 1-0 loss to big-spending league leaders Manchester City, but Arsenal at least put in a good performance in that game.

At the turn of the year Arsenal were in good shape in the league with fourth place looking like a real possibility, and third place even a possibility.  They only played three league games in January, but they lost them all, and that has left them playing catch up on the teams above them. The real disappointment in those games was that they lost after going ahead away to both Swansea and Fulham.

Arsenal have had a very bad run of injuries in the last couple of months, and it looked like their squad simply wasn't strong enough to cope with the absentees. Their defence suffered badly, and their midfielders had to play too often as well. Only the goalscoring of Robin van Persie kept the team going, and he has looked the best player in the Premier League this season.

Some of those injured players are slowly returning to the Arsenal team, and it's possible that Bacary Sagna could start the game against Bolton. Mikael Arteta will almost certainly start the game, and Johan Djourou and Thierry Henry should be on the bench. The squad is starting to show a little strength in depth again, and there are still plenty of players to return.

It would be great to see Arsenal have an actual full-back in the team if Sagna starts, but I think the team will be very similar to the one that beat Villa on Sunday. Wojciech Szczesny will obviously replace Lukasz Fabianski in goal, but otherwise Arsene Wenger's options are still a little limited.

This game comes only three days after Arsenal's last game, and they play again in another three days. Bolton played the day before Arsenal, and that extra days rest could be quite important for them. It's not easy for players to play that often at the pace the game is played at, and remain in peak condition too.

Whatever team Wenger plays it has to be remembered that Arsenal are better than Bolton, and it's up to the Arsenal players to go out and show that on the pitch. They did it in a glorious spell at the start of the second half against Villa, and not many teams can live with Arsenal when they play that well. If they can approach this game with the tempo and attitude they showed in the second half against Villa I think they are sure to win.

Bolton have lost eight of their 11 home games so far, but they did beat Liverpool in their last home game. Arsenal need to put them under pressure, and mistakes will follow from the Bolton players if they do. Bolton are only one point above the relegation zone, and they have the worst defensive record in the league too.

However, Arsenal have the worst defensive record away from home in the league, and it's not something they should be proud of.  With Arsenal also the second highest scorers away from home after Manchester City there's very little chance of a scoreless draw against Bolton. I have no doubt that a full Arsenal team will defend a lot better when they can eventually have that luxury.

Whatever was said in the dressing room at half time on Sunday needs to be said before the game against Bolton. I miss the Arsenal team that used to come out and blow teams away in the opening 20 minutes. and it would be great to see them do that again. I don't think they will, as they try to slow the game down far too often now.

If Bolton attack Arsenal it could be a very interesting and high scoring game, and it could make for good viewing. In the past when teams attacked Arsenal they paid dearly for it, but the brittleness of their defence no longer makes that a certainty. It would be great to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain given some space to work in, and maybe score his first Premier League goal too.

I think Arsenal will have enough to beat Bolton as long as their attitude is right, and I hope it will be after Sunday. It would be great for Arsenal to beat both Bolton away and then Blackburn at home on Saturday to draw level on points with Chelsea before Chelsea play Manchester United on Sunday. A win would certainly make fourth place look a lot more obtainable, and maybe give the team a little more belief too.

I'm predicting a 3-1 win for Arsenal with Chamberlain getting his name on the score sheet too. He really offers Arsenal something different with his ability to take players on and beat them, as well as score from distance. He looks like he has everything he needs to be a real star of the future.

That's it for today.

Here's a look at some of RVP's goals from this season.

Are you thinking of making a bet online on an upcoming Gunner's match? Are you unsure which bookmakers would be best for you? Why not come and check out all of the latest betting tips and offers at today.
See you tomorrow.


  1. Seems Wilshere is out for the reason if one believes the rumors.

  2. Replies
    1. I hope the rumours aren't true but it wouldn't surprise me if they are. It's like Vernaelen last season. I hope he doesn't return just in time to play in Euro 2012.

    2. That'd be asinine and also aggravating the injury even more. But we are talking about the English FA here.One never knows.......

    3. Unfortunately one does know exactly what they're like.

  3. A bit disappointed that we didn't sign big player this winter. Since Wilshere has had a new setback, we definitely need a creative midfielder. Sometimes Rambo does the amazing, but he is not as consistent as Wilshere.

    Bolton game will be a big test for Arsenal, because if we lose this, we could lose Champions League spot next season as well. Thanks

  4. I thought we should have signed a top class creative midfielder last summer when bot h Cesc and Nasri left. The injury to Wilshere made a signing important but sadly it looks like we will try to muddle through yet again. It's hard to know if we did really try to get some of the players we were supposedly interested in last summer. It 's annoying that the squad is so obviously short and we made a profit on transfers yet again.

    1. Wenger *probably* thought Ramsey might be able to do the job

    2. That was an awful lot to expect from Ransey after that terrible injury less than 2 years ago. I suppose he just presumed Wilshere would be back a lot sooner too.

  5. Chamberlain is improving every time he is on the pitch.. a player with arsenal in everyway he plays, exciting to watch. thats what i love about arsenal they are always great to watch.. at home last season to barcalona was superb & in this article the man.c game away was also an epic encounter. Arsenal have won nine of the last 10 Premier League games against Bolton which suggests that we should have it in the bag.. hopefully they won't have me on edge through out the game against A.Villa!!

  6. Nothing is a foregone conclusion with Arsenal, but hopefully they can make it 10 out of 11 against Bolton.