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Never mind continuing his goal streak, I'll be happy be a defensive performance

There’s only so many times one team can restart a season, which is why I won’t even go into this thinking that this is where it begins for us again. We are now in 17th position in the league. Our next opponent, Bolton is 19th. Some are billing this as a 6-pointer, a term normally associated with title chasing sides or relegation battlers.

There’s no hiding behind anything. This is only the 5th game of the league season, not too much can be drawn from the current standing but there’s no denying that the results thus far has been disappointing. Something which Arsene Wenger readily admits and accepts the criticism that is thrown his way.

That in itself is a very fair point. A club like Arsenal should not be languishing anywhere near the foot of the table. In saying that, I’m not expecting Arsenal to be leading the table all the time either (as much as I want that to happen). Without further contradicting myself, I’ll just assume that you get my point.

The match today is the second of three games consecutive games at the Grove. We passed the first test rather easily albeit after an early scare from Shrewsbury Town. All 3 matches are individual competitions on their own and a repetition of the Carling Cup win in the other 2 games would be most welcomed.

Watching Wenger’s press conference from yesterday was another welcomed event for today. I don’t know how others rated his remarks or his attitude during the presser but I felt like it was the old Wenger coming back again. There was seriousness and there was funnier moments.

Asked about Gary Cahill and Joey Barton, the answer was a prompt “No comment”. Asked why he didn’t want to comment, he said “this is September, the window just closed. Asked me again in December”. That’s the serious side. Why wouldn’t some people just drop all the transfer nonsense for a couple of months and concentrate on actions on the field, is well and truly beyond me.

When asked whether he was concerned at the huge gap between us and Manchester United (11 points) and whether United will continue in that same vein throughout the season, the answer was in a more comical fashion. Wenger said, “If they can remain perfect, then they will be perfect but only one team in history has ever done that”. The rest is what we call, history.

Coming back to the game today, it was more positive stuffs in terms of injuries. The long term ones are still out. Confirmation of Jack Wilshere‘s injury was announced and surgery will be needed. Like I said in past post, we will not see him again in 2011. I wish him well and hopefully when he returns, we are still in a position to challenge for trophies. Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky are both cleared to play today, which is never bad news.

Here’s how I think we would line-up;

Szczesny
Sagna—Koscielny—Mertesacker—Gibbs
Arteta—Song—Ramsey
Walcott—Van Persie—Gervinho

That would be 2 changes from the side that lost at Blackburn. With the Olympiakos game coming up in midweek, I suspect that Andre Santos would be better equipped to start that one than this Bolton game. I think Wenger is still in the process of deciding who between Santos and Gibbs would be the first choice for the season. So, there might be plenty of chances for both players to play.

The other change involves the swapping of Andrey Arshavin with Theo Walcott. While I’d like to see Arshavin playing ahead of Walcott, I think that this being a home game, the Englishman will start. The attacking onus is on us tonight and with Paul Robinson patrolling the left flank for Bolton, speed might be to our advantage.

That said, hopefully a week of training has included lots of defensive drills. What happened at Ewood Park a week ago, should not be repeated in today’s game. Every single player will have to know what is expected of them in every area of the pitch. Needless to say, the organisation and awareness at the back will be under a lot of scrutiny.

As mentioned earlier, Bolton are not exactly in the best of form themselves. Owen Coyle has struggled to lift his team after last season’s splendid performance. They have not gotten a single point since the first day of the season. The spanking they gave Queens Park Rangers must seemed like an eternity now.

They will be missing Ivan Klasnic and Stuart Holden, two players who would strengthen the away side if they were available. However, Bolton still have plenty of others, who we need to be wary of. The expected battle between Kevin Davies and Per Mertesacker would be interesting. But I’m not ruling out Davies choosing to go up against Laurent Koscielny instead.

On paper, it looks like a match between two teams in dire form. Normally that would mean a dire match as well, with both teams more worried about losing than winning. A repeat of the last league home win looks to be on the cards. Offer me that now and I will chew your hands right off. Do that, and it will be another baby step in the right direction for our season.

Come on Arsenal!!!!

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