.

BOLTON WANDERERS
v
ARSENAL

The Reebok Stadium, Greater Manchester
April 24, 2011, 8:30 P.M. IST – Live on ESPN


Arsenal play their weekend fixture after knowing the results of their nearest title contenders, that has its advantages and disadvantages. The pressure is certainly on Arsene and his men to stand up and perform, they have dropped too many points at home and are now heavily dependent on their rivals’ results to get a glimmer of a hope of winning the coveted league title. Arsenal have been quite impressive though, away from home, undefeated in the league this year. Having won all of their last eight encounters with Bolton, they should really fancy themselves in this game.

Bolton, who used to be Arsenal’s nemesis when they were managed by Sam Allardyce, are a potent threat to the Gunners, but they are more likely to play attacking football, much suited to Arsenal’s game. On loan from Chelsea, Daniel Sturridge has been a revelation for the Trotters, he has scored many important goals throughout his spell with the club, six in eight, to be precise. The home team will however be low on morale, having been thrashed by Stoke in the FA Semi Finals last weekend. They need to completely get that game out of their mind and concentrate on the league and try their best towards a last ditch attempt for European place next season.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Bolton

The in-form striker from loan, Sturridge was unable to participate in the 5-0 thrashing that Bolton suffered last weekend in the FA Cup. He will be back in the squad and will be a major boost for the home team. Mark Davies is also a contention for the match, but will be a little short on fitness, giving him a place in the bench. Rickett, Holden and Davis are long term absentees for Bolton due to injuries.

Bolton will be looking at seasoned campaigner Kevin Davies to provide the good upfront along with Elmander. Lee has been fantastic for Bolton this season, providing the goals along with the assists from the wings. Sturridge will be looking to continue his goal-scoring form to help his mother club.

In rich vein of form!

Probable Starting Line-Up: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Alonso, Elmander, Muamba, Lee, Petrov, Sturridge, K Davies.

Arsenal

Arsenal will start Jack Wilshere, the Englishman who has played almost all games for Arsenal this season but missed out in the last game against Liverpool due to Diaby’s inclusion. Abou Diaby, who has never played for more than 10 consecutive games for Arsenal in his entire career, is out with an injury. According to @OptaJoe, he hasn’t played more than three consecutive games for Arsenal this season. Sagna will continue with Full Back responsibilities and the fans will be relieved to see him back in place of Eboue.

Arsene might be tempted to play Arshavin on the left wing but Theo’s pace away from home might be too important to not include him in the line-up. Cesc, after a lot of media disturbances over the week, will again play the pivotal role in the team, finding killer-passes for his frontmen. Arsenal are without their long-time absentee Thomas Vermaelen, out with an achilles injury.

Probable Starting Line-Up: Szczsney, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Theo, Cesc, van Persie

Key Facts

  1. Arsenal and Bolton have received a total of 10 red cards this season.
  2. Arsenal are undefeated in the league for 16 games, half of them being draws though.
  3. The last time Bolton won against Arsenal was in November, 2006.
  4. Both teams have drawn ten matches in this season so far.
  5. Arsenal have scored 113 goals in all competitions this season.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Alex Song (Arsenal)

The Backbone

After coming back from an injury spell, Alex Song played a massive game last weekend against Liverpool; he dominated the midfield and gave the essential cover to the Arsenal Rear-Guard. The Gunners really missed the services of a solid defensive midfielder in the absence of the Cameroonian. He will be pivotal for Arsenal in their remaining games of the season.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Bolton 1 – 2 Arsenal

With the game of Bolton much suited to Arsenal, the away team will find the right amount of space to explore and get their goals, two being enough to romp home with three points.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST