The Gunners play host to Bolton Wanderers at the Emirates this Saturday after a second string Arsenal beat League Two outfit Shrewsbury Town in midweek, allowing many of the usual first XI to rest ahead of the weekend.
So far Arsenal have endured a terrible few weeks, currently placed 17th with only 4 points from their first 5 games. But it’s not just Arsenal who are struggling, with Bolton suffering a worse start and find themselves in 19th place on just 3 points. Both sides will be looking to turn around their campaigns this weekend, but it will be a difficult task for Bolton to prevent a strong Arsenal attack unleashing at their fortress.
Arsenal’s defence has come under fire once again after a dreadful performance against Blackburn last weekend after conceding soft strikes and two own goals condemned them to a dreadful loss after holding the lead on two occasions. But there were fantastic performances in the match, namely Gervinho who was electric and scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners, while Arteta was creative and threatening, he also scored his first goal in red and white.
Wenger will be hoping for similar performances from these new signings, but also improvement from the likes of Ramsey and Arshavin who were once again put in lackluster performances last week, and for the defence to become a solid unit this week and not let in soft goals.
Owen Coyle’s Bolton ended their three game losing streak on Tuesday with a win against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup. Unlike Arsenal however, Bolton did have a few key players playing midweek such as Fabrice Muamba, Gary Cahill, Chris Eagles and Darren Pratley although Tuncay Sanli, Zat Knight and Martin Petrov were rested.
Going forward Kevin Davies will be a big threat as he can exploit Arsenal’s failure to contend efficiently in the air, however the Gunners are in luck as Bolton’s talented forward Ivan Klasnic, who has scored 3 times this season, is suspended after a red card last weekend. Winger Martin Petrov however will provide plenty of work for the Arsenal backs, but Bolton’s biggest weakness will be their back line who have already conceded 13 goals this season, and main man and Arsenal target Gary Cahill will suffer from fatigue after playing 90 minutes in midweek.
Arsenal 3 Bolton 1
Arsenal : WLDWL
(Premier League in red)
Wenger on the under-fire defence:
“We work on it every day and practice, I believe that we have been solid quite recently – in Dortmund but not at Blackburn. There is a lot to improve in our defensive consistencies.
“The modern game is a team sport more than ever because everybody has to defend completely. All the big teams do it. You do not get away with just seven or eight and the rest watching.
“If you don’t do it as a team it doesn’t work. On the day [at Blackburn] I believe we were a little unlucky and certainly a bit naive as well – we have to concede that. We have played five games, but we started our season basically two weeks ago.”
On the players lifting the mood of the crowd:
“I always feel that the vibes have to come out from the team, if the vibes coming out from the team are right, the crowd will follow and support us.
“So let’s focus on us being right because the crowd feels that. We believe they have to trust us on that.
On catching up with the top teams:
“We will bounce back and I think it starts from us being determined, from us being united, from us trusting each other and us playing the football we want to play. Let’s focus on that quality. We had 20 shots on goal at Blackburn, let’s continue to play our game.”
On the latest team news:
Rosicky is back in the squad. Sagna and Ramsey had positive tests this morning, so overall it is alright.
Benayou has a thigh strain and Djourou has a hamstring [problem]. Both of them are very minor muscular problems.
They could play with a risk of making it worse. But we will not take the gamble. As I told you, we only play players when they are 100 per cent.
Arsenal –Mikel Arteta – After opening his Arsenal goal scoring account last weekend at Blackburn, the creative Spaniard will be looking to add to his tally and tee up his team mates in their bid to getting back on track.
Bolton– Martin Petrov – The talented winger has been a huge attacking inspiration for Bolton this season and will threaten the Arsenal fullbacks. He can provide the deadly cross to hitman Kevin Davies that can expose Arsenal’s aerial weakness.
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
Benayoun is out injured after a muscle strain will rule him out for a week after scoring his first Arsenal goal in midweek. The back four that started against Blackburn looks set to remain in place this weekend, lets hope Santos has worked on his offside trap movement.
Long term absentees Diaby, Wilshere and Vermaelen are still not available, however signs are looking up for the latter two after positive reactions to treatment.
Wenger has confirmed that Ramsey and Sagna are fit to play, as is Rosicky, which is a welcomed boost ahead of the Bolton tie.
1: Gervinho – The Ivorian scored his first Arsenal goal last week, and has looked extremely threatening. He will be a decent point scorer this season, and after being rested during the week, will look to threaten the Bolton defence.
2: Arteta – The Spaniard, like Gervinho, scored his first Premier League goal for the club last weekend after a decent match in the attacking midfield role. He has become the preferred option by Wenger in this role, and will continue to rake in the points.
3: Robin Van Persie – The Dutchman has suffered a dip in form of late, however possess the quality to turn a game on its head with a bit of brilliance. Once Arsenal’s attack starts to gel, the Gunners captain will start to knock in the goals once again.