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Match Preview: Arsenal v Bolton; EPL Match Day 6

You know I knew at the beginning of the season we weren’t going to be a championship calibre team. I knew that in all likelihood the silverware drought would have to end via the Carling Cup or FA Cup. But right now 5 games in, I am hard pressed to say I saw this coming. As Wenger said today in his press conference:

“It’s very strange believe me.”

You know I knew at the beginning of the season we weren’t going to be a championship calibre team. I knew that in all likelihood the silverware drought would have to end via the Carling Cup or FA Cup. But right now 5 games in, I am hard pressed to say I saw this coming. As Wenger said today in his press conference:

“It’s very strange believe me.”

Yes, Arsene this is all very strange. For 15 years we’ve had a pretty easy ride of it. Qualification for the Champion’s League – check. Competitive in the EPL – check. Good FA Cup run – check. Solid preview of the young talent via the Carling Cup – check. Right now however, none of that is as important as just winning a bloody match.

It’s so bad for Arsenal recently, that I don’t even get stick from opposing fans, I get pity. I liked it better when I got stick, I’ll tell you that. The simple fact is however, we are not the shell of our formerselves, we are even a remote carbon copy. We are a mess pure and simple. Honestly, I wish it wasn’t so. I wish I could sit here with a straight face and say it was all going to work out. I just don’t know that it is.

For Arsenal at 5 games in to the season, a win against Bolton is now an absolute must. It must be won so that the club can begin to arrest the fall into the abyss.  There must be a win to try and restore some sense of confidence to a team that seems absolutely devoid of it right now. Really, this is a chance to try and get some semblance of normalcy returned to the club heading into next week’s North London Derby.

The result at Blackburn was depressing on so many levels for me the most depressing part of it was that for the first 45 it looked like we had turned our corner. We bossed the game we move the ball as we are accustomed to and we scored some fine goals. (Again, not thinking we were winning the league – just getting in line to make us competitive). But the second half we were devoid of anything that resembled the team that came onto the pitch in the first half.

If Arsenal are going to improve, they are going to need to put together 2 halves of complete football. Only then will they feel good about themselves and likely (hopefully) turn things around. Good (or maybe its bad) for them that their opponent this weekend is another league bottom dweller (misery loves company eh.

For all intensive purposes this is another club Arsenal even in their fragile state should dispatch. But then again so was Blackburn. All it really means at this point is that anything can happen. Bolton are a team who opened the season with an emphatic win but have been steadily declining since then losing their last 4 league matches. Like Arsenal their defence is letting in goals – they have conceded 13 so far. All in all, it is a situation ripe for the Gunners.

But the Gunners are off to the worst start of a season since the 53-54 season.  Like Bolton we only have one win under our belt. And we lead the league with goals allowed at 14. Should they lose this match they will have the lowest point tally since that same 53-54 season.

There are likely a ton of excuses for this run of form. Some of it lies with the manager. Other portions of it lies with the players. Then there is the never ending parade of injuries we deal with it. 5 games into the season and Arsenal have already had 27 different players on the pitch.  Whatever the reason, the Gunners need to do something or this really could be a mutiny of the worst kind coming from the fans.

Another loss and the management of the team will have to seriously consider its recent statement of support for Wenger. While he may not be the only reason, he is the reason that can be easily remedied. You don’t have the ability to sack the board – though Silent Stan might do some good if he sacked Hill-Wood and Gazidis (even if they were to eventually sack Wenger). While I don’t want Wenger to go another loss and you just can’t see how you stop this. You can’t jettison players. Not until January. You may sit some and opt for younger but then you really concede any hope of improving your table standing – and that is unacceptable. So the players stay.  So like I said should Owen Coyle and Bolton provide us with another set back I cannot see this team going forward with Wenger at the helm. That’s sad. Its uncomprehensible what this club will be like. I have memories of the Graham era but they are a paled by Wenger’s shadow. He looms large over every aspect of the club. Should he suffer a fate worse then death this weekend it will be interesting to see what happens to the club.

However, Wenger is here. Now. It is still his club to lead. And there is still a match that can be played. Players need to stand up and be accountable and in front of the Arsenal faithful there is no better place to start.

How the Match Should Play Out:

The Gunners are at home in front of a fan base hungry for improvement. Unlike any recent match look for the first team to come out charging and looking to swiftly attack the leaky Bolton defence. The key will be if the Gunners get an early lead will they be able to hold it and lock down the win. The Bolton attack isn’t that freightening. So there is hope that the Gunners can tighten up in the back. For a defence that is learning to play together on the fly – this is a time to work out kinks before the next big match of season. In the end the Arsenal attack is the deciding factor in this match up.

Players to watch:

Arsenal: Robin Van Persie. In times before now, the Gunners turned to Cesc Fabregas when the chips were down. Now RvP needs to strap the team on his back and lead the way out of the abyss.

Bolton: Gary Cahill. Long associated with a move to the Emirates. It will time for him to show Arsenal what they are missing.

Probable Starting XI:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Diaby (ankle), Vermaelen (ankle), Wilshere (ankle), Benayoun (thigh), Djourou (hamstring), Squillaci (calf)

Bolton: Holden (doubt – match fitness after injury), Gardner (doubt – groin), Klasnic (suspended), Alonso (foot), Mears (leg), Lee (leg), Davis (knee), Ricketts (calf)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal: Walcott 3 (1 league) Van Persie  3 (1 league)

Bolton: Klasnic 3 (3 league)

Last Meeting (EPL):

Arsenal: 1

Bolton: 2

Goals For:

Arsenal (home): .5

Bolton (away): 2.5

Goals Against:
Arsenal (home): 1

Bolton: (away): 1.5

Last Five:
Arsenal: LWLLD

Bolton: LLLLW

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: -8

Bolton: -5

Match Official:
Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Broadcast Information:

UK: ?????? 1500 BST

GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3

Bolton: 1

The Final Word

For those of you pining for the return of Jack Wilshere, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. The club announced that on Monday Wilshere will undergo surgey on the foot injury he picked up during the Euro 2012 campaign and was subsequently reinjured in the pre-season.

The team originally thought the player could heal while the player rested and his foot was in a boot. Now, the turn for the worse means that Wilshere will under go the surgery and be sidelined until the new year.

After the club’s announcement Jack took to twitter with this to say:

“Been in a boot for a month and the bone is not responding. i will have surgery on my right ankle on monday with the two best surgeons around. Hopefully i will return to action around christmas time. i am in good hands! thanks for your support everyone!”

Well, it is clear that Jack is this year’s version of Vermaelen. It is worrisome that one of our best players is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. It means that both Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta are going to have to A. stay healthy and B. bare the burden of the midfield duties. While Arteta has been impressive, Ramsey has not. The injury to Wilshere leaves us short and creates a worrying situation in light of the club’s recent form.

Oh well . . . until next time.

Stay Gooneris!!!


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