Archive for January 6th, 2010


Bolton preview. No more what ifs.

January 6, 2010

Big chill allowing, we will take on Owen Coyle’s Trotters tonight. They used to cause us a problem or two under Fat Sam by successfully employing in-your-face bully boy tactics, hence the cliche about Arsenal being a bunch of softies who don’t like a cold wintery night up north often uttered by TV pundits and tabloid hacks. Since Megson tried to get his team to play a bit more football than his inglorious predecessor (if you don’t count the short episode involving Little Sammy Lee who tried to continue with his mentor’s approach, that is), it transcribed into much better results from our point of view.

Coyle got Burnley to play some nice football, which brought us quite a few famous cup upsets, including our 2:0 loss on their turf last season, as well as quite a home record in this season’s Premier League campaign. Whether he will have enough time to transform Bolton thugs into a footballing side in the space of a few days since taking over is another matter – I wouldn’t have too many complaints if that happened, given that we normally murder ‘lesser’ sides who come to Emirates to play rather than park the bus and frustrate. Whichever of the two materialises, we need to be on our toes not to fall victims to the side keen to impress new manager in the stern test of playing a top side. This is the often mentioned game in hand, our chance to go second with Chelsea only two points clear at the top and short of options with a good few vital cogs away for the ACN and Anelka sidelined with an injury. This is it. No more ‘if we win our game in hand’ speculations. Time to stand up and be counted, show what we are made of. As I said before, we need to gather maximum points in January before we enter the do-or-die period starting with the Aston Villa away game on 27th. Whisper it, but if we survive these tough two weeks afterwards and come out within reasonable distance off the top spot or ideally being there, the title will be ours to lose with relatively easy run-in.

As far as our squad options are concerned, not a lot changed bar Arshavin and Denilson returning from injuries. I will be watching the latter to see how he will cope in position made his own by Alex Song. I reckon this should be telling for Arsene, as far as the decision on whether to strengthen in this particular area or not is concerned. To be honest with you, I have my doubts, as I see him as more of an attack-minded player who is told to do things not particularly being his forte, however, nothing would please me more than him making me help myself to a huge slice of humble pie.

With Cesc still out, I think gaffer will throw Diaby and Ramsey or Nasri to partner No.15 in the midfield.  Upfront, we should see Andrey with Eduardo and perhaps Vela if Nasri starts in the middle. Not a lot to speculate, is there? AW has very little room for manoeuvre and him sitting on his hands during the games must have the purpose of covering the crossed fingers – back four also picks itself, so possible fatigue must be quite a worry, given the merciless fixture list. Here’s to hoping that our ‘new signing’ will shake off the most recent niggle and report fit for the Saturday’s clash with Everton to give one of players a well deserved breather.

Speaking of signings, again, there is hardly anything to report apart from us reportedly being after another Cardiff City player, 17 year old right fullback Andrew Matthews. Whilst cherry-picking the most talented youngsters to teach them to play the Arsenal way is commendable (unless they decide to join another club after getting fed up with lack of playing time caused by embarrassment of riches, just like Merida), our senior squad is threadbare and it needs urgent attention. During his press conference yesterday, Arsene confirmed that he would like to do his business early in this window, but wouldn’t give us anything else, just said there was more press talk than actual movement. He also said something about players returning from long term injuries, let’s hope he is not in the gambling mood and will bring in at least two players to boost our options to make the assault on all three fronts.

Once again, Come You Rip Roaring Gunners! Thanks for reading, enjoy the game 😉