All the talk at the Reebok revolves around Owen Coyle and rightly so. Bolton have struggled this season and a new manager, with strong ties to the club, can only be beneficial.
The tactical battles will be interesting. Arsene reckons that a manager can only play with his style and Coyle will change the Bolton game to a passing one. Surely, no one can change the playing style of a team overnight! Especially, a style developed and perfected by such masters as Big Sam, Sammy Lee and Megson.
On one hand the Trotters will be fired up for the game, on the other they might find it hard to adapt to a new style. We have to wait and see which of the two has a higher impact. I am guessing that Coyle will not make too many changes to the way Bolton play, certainly not against Arsenal. They will come at us hard and fight for every ball while hitting it high and long at every opportunity.
Given their game style and our performance against Everton, some of us are still trying to figure out how Arsenal will adapt without Song. Throw the injuries to Denilson and Ramsey into the mix and it becomes a challenge even for Arsene. Le Boss was not very clear about the injuries to either of them but I am hoping he wont rush them back for this one if there is any doubt about their fitness.
Thankfully we have Rosicky back and hopefully he will stay fit for a longer period this time around. We really need a good show from him at the Reebok. Despite all our injuries we should have enough in attack to score a couple against a team that hasn’t kept a clean sheet all season long.
Our troubles are more on the defensive front and with the link between defence and attack. Diaby is the popular choice to fill that role and I have a feeling Arsene will ask him to curb his attacking instincts for this game.
I would like to Nasri in that role with Cesc too in a deeper position and Diaby playing the attacking midfielder. The main reason behind this thought is the worry that our lanky Frenchman holds on to the ball too often and could be a liability in, well, a holding role! The others will have to drop deep anyway, allowing Bolton to press us further up the pitch. So we might be better off allowing Diaby the freedom to roam in the Bolton half and take defenders on with his direct running.
There is some good news on the injury front with Clichy expected to make a return to the squad. Once again, I would prefer if he was eased in slowly. Back problems can be tricky and we can do without a Denilsonesque recurrence.
Our bench is likely to be full of youngsters even by our standards. In other words, the starting eleven has to do the job. The break must have given everyone enough time to regain their sharpness as we need the cutting edge against a physical side.
The starting line up is likely to be
Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore; Diaby, Cesc, Nasri; Rosicky, Arshavin, Eduardo.
To be frank, I have a bad feeling about this one. We have had some poor results in pairs like the losses in Manchester, draws with Alkmaar and West Ham and then the defeats to Chelsea and Citeh. After last week’s result and with the team looking for a new balance, I can see another tough draw on the cards. Here’s hoping I am wrong.