Bolton vs. Arsenal: Preview, Predictions, Live Updates, Text Commentary & Recap
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Dé·jà vu: n. The illusion of having already experienced something actually being experienced for the first time.
When Arsenal played Bolton Wanderers in September last year, the Gunners were lying 17th in the Premier League table. The team had lost three of their previous four league games, including contrasting, though humbling defeats at Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers.
Fast-forward a little over four months and Arsenal find themselves in the middle of a similar run of form, albeit in a somewhat better (though still unsatisfactory) league position.
Consecutive defeats against Fulham, Swansea and United (all winnable games) have left the London club in sixth place in the table. If you add nine points to their current tally, you will understand how they have let a golden chance pass them by.
Bolton are in the middle of a decent run of form themselves, with two victories in their last three games (against Everton and Liverpool), which has taken them out of the Premier League's bottom three. They have finally managed to bring an end to the Gary Cahill saga and have signed Tim Ream, Marvin Sordell and Arsenal's Ryo Miyaichi on loan.
On that September afternoon at the Emirates, Arsenal managed to put an end to their early-season horror show. Two goals by Robin van Persie and one by Alex Song, plus David Wheater's red card, eased them to a 3-0 victory. Gooners will be hoping their team can emulate that result and go on a similar run of form that followed that particular game.
In terms of team news, Mikel Arteta will surely be pushing for a starting berth after his return from injury against Aston Villa in the FA Cup. Arsenal have certainly missed him in midfield. Johan Djourou is fit again, as is Thierry Henry, though both will probably start on the bench. However, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is surely pushing for a starting berth after impressive displays against United and Villa.
Here's how I think the Gunners will line up:
Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Song, Arteta; Walcott, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Van Persie.
For Bolton, it is unlikely that their new signings Ream or Sordell will play. The American defender is back in his homeland sorting out passport issues, while Sordell's registration was not completed on time after his move from Watford. Premier League rules do not allow on-loan Miyaichi to play against his parent club.
However, goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and defender Tyrone Mears may make their respective returns from injury.
Referee: Chris Foy
Key stat: Bolton have conceded more goals at home than any other team this season, while Arsenal have conceded the second most number of goals away from home. Goal fest.
Prediction: Bolton 2 - 4 Arsenal
And who was that idiot who said something about déjà vu???
Sorry, one last thing to say. The reason why I'm not as optimistic as I normally am is because I don't see a light at the end of this tunnel. I know that teams go through slumps in form, but the problem with this Arsenal team is that I don't see us getting better. Van Persie is at the top of his game. More important than that, he's been fit. He can't possibly play any better. Walcott and Ramsey will not get better this season at least. Gervinho could be more lethal in front of goal, but will he? The Ox is doing his best, but at 18, he can never be the finished product we need.
And what of the bench? Arshavin, who I really like as a human being, is in the middle of the worst slump in history, and if rumors are to be believed, may be on his way to Anzhi before March is upon us. Benayoun is never going to carry the team on his shoulders. Neither is Rosicky.
Chelsea and Liverpool, on the other hand, will get better. Torres will find form, as will Essien. Drogba will be back soon as well. For Liverpool, Suarez will soon be available after his ban. Gerrard will get stronger with more games under his belt. And Carroll will score goals.
And what about Newcastle. They don't seem to want to leave the party. And if they keep winning without Ba, imagine how potent they will be when he is back.
Honestly, after today, seventh place seems more likely than fourth. And this is coming from an Arsenal optimist and Wenger loyalist.
Those of you on Twitter can follow me here, for all things Arsenal, and a little bit of cricket.
That's it from me. Most disappointing from Arsenal. The difficult part is that I can't see how and where we'll improve. Wilshere was my last hope, but that bubble has probably burst too...
Arsenal man of the match: Mikel Arteta. Another error-free masterclass in the Arsenal engine room. It's a pity that his younger colleagues do not have his class or consistency.
I'm looking at the match stats, and while Arsenal dominated possession, Bolton had a number of good chances. The Gunners' lack of a potent threat up-front (Van Persie aside) is encouraging teams to come at them. 12 shots for Bolton would have been unprecedented in years gone by.
Walcott and Ramsey need to get their act sorted out. And fast. With Wilshere set to miss most of the remainder of the season, we've got to play with who we have. Gervinho will be back soon, but how exhausted will he be after his African sojourn. It is a sign of our desperation that we are placing our hopes on the 18 year old Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Full time: 0 - 0. Can't say Arsenal deserved better. Arsenal really missing a cutting edge up-front. Unfortunately none of the good chances fell to RVP. And the rest looked incompetent in front of goal. Yet again the Ox was removed way too early when he could have made a difference. Playing Henry out wide is a waste of time. He doesn't have the pace or the energy.
90 min: Last minute now, and it looks like 2 points dropped for Arsenal. 7th place beckons.
90 min: Only 3 minutes to be added. Looking hopeless for Arsenal. Henry totally out of the game. Van Persie starved for service. The Ox has been missed.
90 min: Bolton in the ascendancy as injury time beckons.
87 min: Great chance for Mark Davies. 1 v 1 on Szczesny. Fantastic interception by the big Pole. Shush up commentators.
86 min: Free kick for Bolton as the big men come forward
83 min: Bolton playing for a draw now as they run the ball into the corner.
81 min: Rosicky on for Ramsey
80 min: Magical feet from RVP as he hits the post with a delightful chip. The ball then falls to Walcott, who volleys wide from 8 yards. Wasteful.
79 min: Walcott almost through on goal, but Knight makes a last-ditch tackle.
77 min: 13 minutes to go and still no goals. Arsenal fans getting anxious.
74 min: Song is careless and concedes a corner. Kevin Davies coming on before the kick is taken. Can he do what he does best?
71 min: Bolton win two corners in quick succession. That seems to be their best outlet. Ngog heads at goal and Koscielny blocks brilliantly
70 min: Free kick for Bolton 30 yards away from Szczesny's goal. He kicks into the wall.
69 min: Again it's the Ox to come off for Henry, and the Arsenal fans boo again. Ramsey should have been taken off in my opinion.
68 min: Henry stripped off to come on. Can he make the difference?
65 min: Now Walcott wins a corner after good interplay with Arteta. Comes to nothing. Reo Coker breaks for Bolton and wins a corner after miscommunication between Sagna and Song
61 min: Better from Arsenal. Three good chances in a minute. First Walcott runs at Bolton, and the ball just eludes an Arsenal foot. Then RVP glances a shot onto the upright from an excellent Sagna cross. And finally, the Ox produces a fine save from Bogdan with a stinging shot. Still 0-0 though.
56 min: Now Szczesny clowns around with the ball at his feet, making the commentary team look good. Unnecessary.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?