Today sees Arsenal playing Bolton in the Premier League again, just 3 days after beating them at Reebok. This was supposed to be our game in hand but was unceremoniously postponed due to bad weather. The irony is, this match will now become our extra game and give the “game in hand” to our challengers.
Though the scoreline was a rather comfortable 2-0 in the first fixture, there were difficult periods during that game for Arsenal. With the second fixture being a home game, there’s an even higher expectation for Arsenal to hand Bolton a second defeat. Provided that happens and the final scoreline matching or better than the first game, we could usurp Chelsea and Man United and sit at the top of the league.
From those who played at Reebok, only the scorer of the second goal, Fran Mérida is out for this game. The injury occurring before he eventually scored the goal but the bruise just became much worse after the game. As for the returnees, Denilson and Walcott are the only ones who is available. For all the promise that Eastmond showed on Sunday, Denilson would most probably return to the lineup while Walcott will have to be satisfied with a place on the bench. Put that together with another couple of extra days of training for Clichy and he should play this one with Traore being saved for the weekend’s cup game instead. Expect the line-up to resemble something like this;
If you take a closer look at the backline, that is the first choice defense for Arsenal. Not since October of last year, in the match against Tottenham, had Wenger managed to field his preferred players in defense. From now on, it is imperative that the back four or five if you include the keeper play as a unit and ensure clean sheets are kept match in match out.
We’ve already conceded 23 goals in the league while having only played 21 games. That is more than a goal being conceded everytime we step out on the field. That is by no mean a sign of championship winning side. We are only where we are due to the awesome strikeforce and goalscoring feat of the squad. There are 5 other teams with a better defensive record than us. The more they play together the better the understanding is, the famous back 4 lead by Tony Adams were almost ever-present during any of their championship winning season.
Up front, Wenger have switched Eduardo and Arshavin around. Moving the Russian back out wide is a good move as can be seen in his game on Sunday. There was more involvement from him and there were signs of him getting back to his best. That is where he needs to stay. Likewise, Eduardo prefers the new change. His 2 assists against Bolton came from his quick thinking and movement in a central position. The Brazilian is a clever player and does pulls away well from defenders. Perhaps he does need several more games to get to 100% as his reaction seemed rather slow in the previous game.
After the extreme criticism levelled at Wenger and the players after the defeat to Chelsea at home, moving back to top spot would be just the kind of reaction that we fans loved. Let their feet do the talking instead.
See you at the top tomorrow. Have a nice day.