Date: 20th September 2008 at 8:16am
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For the second consecutive weekend Arsenal travels to the Northwest of England, this time for their match against Bolton. On paper this Saturday evenings game should be a walk in the park for the Gunners, but as displayed midweek in the Ukraine Arsenal has a knack at making the easy games difficult. Arsene has hinted that he could ring the changes in his lineup this weekend to give the players that have traveled so much these past two week a much need break. But I can’t see too many bench players having a big role in this game with the Carling Cup tie against Sheffield United coming up on Wednesday.

Arsenal will need to play like they did in the second half of last years corresponding fixture. A repeat preformance of the first half will most likely doom the team in their quest of obtaining all three points.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger has sung the praises of his captain, Gallas, after his late show against Kyiv. ‘There is no coincidence in football,’ Wenger told

‘He was a striker when he was young and you can see he has the nose to be where you have to be at the right moment. If it is a corner or a deflected goal, William Gallas is there. He has kept something of a striker in him and that comes out in these desperate situations.

The biggest quality of a striker who scores goals is exceptional skill or through anticipation and understanding where the ball will be. William anticipates and attacks the space.

His goals can make the difference. I am convinced that in a game like Kiev it was an important goal, because coming back from Kiev with a defeat or with a point, it is a completely different perspective for the Champions League and the game at Bolton.’

Wenger is also wary of this physical treatment his young starlet, Theo Walcott, is receiving. “It is all in the rulebook [and] if you allow the first bad tackle then the second one becomes difficult for the referee.

“As I say we do not want any special protection but I thought Wednesday night, for example, the target was not the ball. If a guy plays hard it is down to Theo to deal with it. But if the guy targets Theo as an individual, he has to be punished.”

Bolton manager, Gary Megson, has spoken of his concerns about playing a Champions League side. ‘All of the matches are a test but there are four clubs in this country who are exceptional in a league that’s very strong, and Arsenal are one of them.

‘When you look right the way through, there is quality in every position, pace in every position and a great deal of know how.

‘These are the games where nobody expects you to do anything, but from my own point of view, I do expect the players to do something.

‘If we play like we can and are on the front foot then we can give anybody a game.’

Bolton Team News:

Good news for Arsenal is that Bolton will be without Matt Taylor, a player who seems to always score against the Gunners when he plays us. Taylor has broken toe, while Gary Cahill is also out with a suspension. Swedish striker Johan Elmander is likely to make a return though.

Player to watch: Fabrice Muamba

The England U-21 midfielder will be facing his former club, who he made two appearances for, and he will be the key man for Bolton in stopping the Arsenal attack. His ability to shut down Fabregas’ creative play might be the difference in whether Bolton get anything out of this game.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal have nobody returning from injuries this week, but nobody new has been added to the sick list. Rosicky has indeed suffered a setback in his return process but this is normal in returning from his injury. When he is finally back, fit and ready to go for this club, then I am sure he will remind everyone how important he can be to this team. Eduardo is also on a good recovery path according to Wenger. Diaby, Nasri, Silvestre, and Bischoff are all still out.

Player to watch: Robin van Persie

Its a tough choice here, nobody really stood out in my mind of having a big impact in this game, but you can never really go wrong with this guy. He did well against Blackburn, and I can see him causing the same sort of trouble in this match

Match Facts & Stats

Arsenal have scored twice as many goals as Bolton in the first three games and the Gunners also have the best defensive record in the league so far.

Jussi Jaaskelainen will be making his 350th Premier League appearance.

Denilson will be making his 50th appearance for Arsenal.

Ref Watch:

Steve Bennent will be the head official for this game. So far this campaign he has handled three BPL games, handing out 11 yellows and no reds.

Match Prediction:

Again I cant see Bolton causing us many problems, but Ive made that statement before, most recently, midweek versus Dynamo Kyiv. It must be the ever optimist in me.

Im going to go with a 3-0 Arsenal victory with Ade getting on the score sheet twice and van Persie adding another one.

Next Fixtures:

After three straight away games, we get three straight home games to follow.

23/9– Sheffield United(H)– Carling Cup

27/9– Hull City(H)– Premier League

30/9– FC Porto(H)– Champions League

Sorry for the lateness of this preview. It has been a hectic week for me with Hurricane Ike hitting my hometown. I drove down there for the storm because I’m a meteorology major and also to help my parents clean up. In total I have driven about 2250 km in the past week! And top it all off, I had alot of work in my studies this week too.

Here’s to Arsenal ending the week on a high note for myself!