Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton Wanderers

This will be a battle between teams placed 17th and 19th with the two leakiest defences in the League. Bolton have shipped just one less goal than Arsenal’s 14. Neither team is on a particularly good run either and both have a Cup result to blame, at least partially. Arsenal have been unrecognizable since the Carling Cup loss while Bolton haven’t been able to recover from the 5-0 hammering they got from Stoke in the FA Cup semi-final. With just one win in their last 9 League games, Bolton are closely matching the relegation form that Arsenal have produced. Both clubs are desperate to move forward so this game should be a feisty affair.

I am one of those who believe Bolton have improved their style under Owen Coyle. However, given their current form and Arsenal’s recent troubles, I will be surprised if they don’t regress to their hoof-n-hunt style that has achieved some success against the Gunners.

Even if the ball isn’t kicked long towards Kevin Davies at every opportunity, the visitors will certainly try to win as many set-pieces as they can. Arsenal are using a combination of zonal marking on corners and mixed approach on free-kicks from other angles. It seems to be a work in progress at the moment and opponents will get some chances if they are not wasteful. A clean sheet for Arsenal in this game will be a big achievement but Wenger knows his team must get that and more in the coming weeks.

Arsenal should pose a great deal of attacking threat down the wings especially if Gervinho is picked on the right against Robinson. Wenger is probably facing a dilemma – whether to pick Theo or Arshavin. Both offer some exciting qualities but also bring along some weaknesses. Arshavin would be more of a creator while Walcott would be more of a runner/finisher. Against the current opposition I’d prefer Arshavin on the left with a completely free role so that he spends most of his time in central areas just behind the striker.

In order to achieve that, Santos will have to do an excellent job of defending the flank. The Brazilian’s biggest challenge will be his decision making – when to go forward, when to attack the ball, when to charge for an interception, etc. He will also have to show improved understanding with the  other defenders. I don’t wish to single out a new player who deserves more time to adapt but I won’t be surprised if Arsenal’s left side is targeted by the visitors.

The other choice for Wenger will probably be the role of the attacking midfielder. Ramsey and Rosicky have both been passed fit but only one is likely to join Arteta and Song in the midfield. I am tempted to include Little Mozart who has, in the past, shown a better understanding with Arshavin and should be able to create more for Gervinho but I think Arsene will make a sensible choice in picking the industrious Ramsey who will regain his form as he gets more games.

Probable starting line-up,

Szczesny – Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos – Song, Ramsey, Arteta – Gervinho, RvP, Arshavin.

Some fans want to see Arsenal return to a 4-4-2 in a manner similar to the Carling Cup game in midweek but I will be surprised if the first team moves to a different system at this juncture.

Arsenal can win this game as long as they cut out individual blunders and deal with the aerial balls aggressively. Chris Eagles and Martin Petrov are decent players but should not trouble the full-backs. Bolton don’t have that much creativity in the middle and should not be allowed to open Arsenal up.

Song and Koscielny have to show Blackburn was an one-off. A repeat of that performance or anywhere in that vicinity is just not acceptable.

While both teams have conceded a number of goals, Arsenal haven’t let in many at the Emirates while Bolton are more susceptible at home so this game might not be a goal fest. I expect two goals in this one, hopefully both will be in the same net that isn’t behind Szczesny.

25 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Bolton Wanderers

  1. bad boy says:

    My starting team would be

    Sagna Meta Kos Santos
    Song Coq Arteta
    Park Van P Gerv

    Walcott, Arsh or ramsey is not good enough to be starting, they are just squad players

  2. irish gooner says:

    bad boy is either 1 of 2 things,,,,american or a track star!!!!Walcott, Arsh or ramsey is not good enough,,,is he for real?!

  3. kez says:

    Szczesny –
    Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs Song, Coquelin
    Gervinho, Arteta, Arshavin

    Gibbs and Coquelin are in good form. Song, Arteta, RVP and Arshavin need game time and to pick up form soon or else were screwed so they must play. Walcott is the only player that can change a game, so it’s the bench for him

  4. Steve says:

    Would love a 4-4-2 with Ramsey and Rosicky on the right and left while Gervinho lurks behind Van P.

  5. RockyLives says:

    Good write-up Desi. I agree with your likely team selection.

    bb and kez, I’m pleased to see you finding a place for Cockle in your proposed line-ups. He has really impressed me (remember, we were only 3-1 down when AW took him off at Old Toilet). However, against as weak a team as Bolton we don’t need two defensive minded MFs, which is why I’m going with Desi’s team.

  6. kez says:

    Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
    Song, Arteta –
    Walcott Arshavin Gervinho

    Arshavin the only one whose explosive and decisive enough to win a game.

    • FoolishgooNer says:

      Kez that team will win. But le professor will put Ramsey instead and isolate Robin . Therefore only have chances, missed opportunities, inevidable mistakes in midfield that leads to goals against a defense that is lacking confidence. Playing Arshavin ensures creativity against a team who would likely be sccared away at the emirates! Gibbs should play if he is fit, no time for santos mistakes….. We can’t drop anymore points at home or no CL next year. That means no ambitious player coming in january or summer. Cheers

  7. Steve says:

    F*ck me. Just read the Wilshere news. When will we get a lucky break!!!

    • Kushagra India says:

      Mate seriously this a pure case of player mismanagement he played in the red zone last year ,Wenger admitted as much so why play him senor and where is our squad depth.Playing em so young so early.
      Secondly our medical team keeps sending miscontruing signals why the severity wasn’t diagnosed early and treated upon…considering our history he will be out of the season and that’s not due to bad luck …….
      all the years of mismanagement and transfer inactivity are adding up now quick and fast….Ivan Gazidis will have a positive spin on it no doubt..

  8. AKF2 says:


    Sagna mertesacker koscielny santos

    song arteta


    Gervinho V . Persie Arshavin

    I want ROSICKY to play

  9. Jjkmiles says:

    Sagna merte kolscieny santos

    Ramsey Arteta

    Gervinho Arshavin

    Van persie
    rosicky walcot park as sub if we are nt winning, frimpong, chermberlain and chamahk if we r winnin. But will really want to c oxlade in dis game no matter d outcome

  10. jcloud says:

    I think the score will be 4-1 to Arsenal

  11. Bryte says:

    I just read that Arsenal is preparing to lose Ashavin, Vermalean, Walcott and Van Persie Next summer since their current contract ends 2013 and if the refuse to sign a new one. Anyway nothing will break my heart than see Van Persie and Vermelean leave this club. Bet me am on the verge of commiting sucide.

  12. venky says:

    I would go for 4-4-2
    Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny santos
    Gervinho Song Arteta Arshavin
    Rvp Chamakh.

    Chamakh would be more of a threat if we play 4-4-2

  13. fan says:

    Wenger says the team is ready to deliver, hope they wont disappoint us and get a convincing win over Bolton.

  14. Layksite says:

    everybody seem to be in favor of santos but santos is not a defender but a left winger like michel bastos. that he play there for brazil is coz they like winger at the back. his first season in turkey he played left winger and that is where he should play until he get used to the pace of the premiership.
    sag mert koz gibbs rambo song arteta santos
    gevinho rvp

    that is 4-4-2 which can be played all through the game. walcot for gevinho.

  15. oba olayinka says:

    Great one hear Desi,
    Ill prefare a 4-4-2 so we can use both
    Chamack & Park replacing each other in the 2nd.
    We have to be more offensive today & that
    Includes getting 2 goals early backed with
    Stict defending. A must win today.

  16. olanrewaju says:

    dis mornin news sound crazy, wilshere out til nxt year, oh shit. Anyway, 2days game must add 3 pts 2 our crazy 4pts wit d likes of rosicky back in d squad

  17. shuaibu says:

    i don.t want 2 see ramsey in starting line up he is not good enoug

  18. Szczesny
    Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
    Song, Arteta –
    Walcott Arshavin Gervinho

    Yep ,that’s the one I would put out.Cant see it though .

  19. arsenaloudin says:

    We are playing at home against a problem plagued team. So we need to be more forward moving not defensive. I prefer Desi’s line up for that reason. I think our central defenders SHOULD NOT be encouraged to be too involved in offensive moves as they tend to caught off guard on oppositions counter attack. This I believe is one of the solution to remedy defensive frailties as they can conserve their energy and focus on their paramount duty which is to defend. The fullbacks should be instructed to join attack sparingly meaning if our attack is building up on our right flank, only Sagna will move extra forward but Santos(if he is in the starting 11) will measure his move forward accordingly. This way if the oppos. Counter attack we have at least three fit(meaning not tired from running all the way from the oppo’s 18 yard box) defenders still mainting their shape and in charge.

  20. josh says:

    i really dnt want ramsey starting for us,rosicky shd start.if we r playing 4-5-1,then let walcott start.the problem with d team is that the teams no longer see us as a threat.we r having concerns about players leaving,dat cos of bad results not money,the sincere players that left the club for better one’s gets pay cuts where they go,cos they want success.we don’t see players wanting to leave barcelona or man u because of money but cos of lack of playing time.thats one attribute of a good team.

  21. T2T says:

    Song’s performance unacceptable? He played very well! Scoring an own goal while the ball is bouncing about around the 6 yard box is bad luck.

    Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos
    Song, Arteta, Rosicky
    Arshavin, van Persie, Gervinho
    Walcott to come on around the hour mark. Let Rosicky start, choose in-form players, let AOC come on towards the end as well.

  22. ManBearPig says:

    Not long before we start pounding defences with Arsenal’s Ox-Coq…


  23. desigunner_fanfrm india says:

    desigunner..Lately..u hv bn taking too long in posting in d post match analysis..still waitng for report on bolton match..:(

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