Arsenal returns to action tonight with a visit to Bolton. Both sides are reeling from the results in the week before. Us only managing to draw consecutive games against Liverpool and Spurs while Bolton’s hopes of going to the FA Cup final were dashed after the trouncing they received from Stoke. In a way, it is a match-up to see who has the quicker recovery from the disappointment of the past week.
Owen Coyle’s side has had a good season in the league. They are currently sitting 8th in the table and has only lost twice at home. Those 2 defeats came at the hands of Liverpool and Chelsea. Even current leaders United could only manage a draw at the Reebok Stadium. All those are only telling us that this match would be tough.
Coyle has got his Bolton side to play some football. It was because of this reason that Arsene Wenger saw fit to loan Jack Wilshere to them last season. Some would consider it Wilshere’s final education in his road to become one of the world’s best. The game has change from the previous route one football employed under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce. Although when the tough gets going, Bolton do revert back to form and start pumping high balls up to Kevin Davies.
On the Arsenal front, we will be without Abou Diaby who is out with a calf strain. Apart from him, we should have the entire squad that was available from Wednesday. With that in mind, I feel that would the only change in the starting line-up. The rested Wilshere restored to the starting lineup.
I don’t think there is any need to speak about the title side of things. We know United and Chelsea both won their respective matches yesterday. Anything other than 3 points for us will spell the end of any faint hopes we still have wresting back the Premiership. We are currently third and that is the last spot for automatic qualification to the Champions League group phase. Manchester City are 9 points behind us with a game in hand.
Losing that spot would be troublesome. It could put paid to any hopes of the club going to Asia or America for any pre-season tour. There will be shorter holiday period in which the players have to prepare for the qualifying stage for the premier European competition.
We’ve drawn a lot games recently and that is something that has not gone unnoticed by the players themselves. Bacary Sagna echoed those sentiments and realised that we have to start turning those draws into wins. Not only is it important in terms of where we are going to finish this season but this can also be considered a start to next season. We are unbeaten in 16 games in the league.
It is not about any individuals. There is no point to pick out a singular player that will star or be important tonight. Every single player that trots onto the pitch at Reebok Stadium will have to put in their 110%. No one should allow any opposition time on the ball or should allow any Bolton player the chance to walk past them. Every player needs to put in an effort and run their socks off and find us that extra mile and that victory.