Bolton Wanderers come to Highbury tomorrow hoping to achieve the unthinkable: a treble of victories over Arsenal for the season.|
The details of our defensive
crisis and its imminent easing
can be found elsewhere. In brief: for the visit of Bolton Wanderers tomorrow
we are without Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy, Sol Campbell, Lauren,
Kerrea Gilbert and Pascal Cygan through injury, and Kolo Toure and
Emmanuel Eboue through their participation in today's African Cup of Nations final (good luck, lads!).
That leaves Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou as centre-backs and Sebastian Larsson to continue at
left back. There's no reason to suppose that Mathieu Flamini won't carry on
at right back. Wenger has pointed out that Alexandre Song, who returns from injury, has
played at right back for Bastia, but it seems more likely that he'll be on the bench as
Apart from that the only definite absentee from Arsenal's ranks is Robin van Persie who has
a recurrence of the toes injury he suffered in January. It's not too bad
though by the sound of it, he's just being given the day off as a precaution.
A few weeks ago we'd be worrying about the absence of van Persie, who's been
the Robin to Thierry Henry's Batman this season - the only other striker
that seems able to hit the net. But right now it's more a question of wondering
whether his absence will give one of the new boys a chance to start.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored a poacher's goal on his debut last week
and Theo Walcott got one for the reserves on Tuesday. It's all good, really,
apart from all the games we keep losing.
Either of those 2 could partner the skipper, as could Dennis Bergkamp or
Jose Reyes. But I tend to think that Reyes is more likely to be used on the
left wing, and that Adebayor will continue up front for now. Why change a winning formula?
With Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Alex Hleb and Reyes all vying for
wing places, the other really interesting question is which two of
Gilberto, Cesc Fabregas, and Abou Diaby get to play. We're all
excited about the Cesc/Diaby possibility but perhaps that's one for
next season rather than right now. Particularly with such a young defence
behind them, I'd be surprised if the experience of Gilberto doesn;t
swing things his way.
Bolton have been away at a training camp in Dubai. According to
Sam Allardyce the warmth and salty water etc over there has
helped striker Kevis Davies to overcome an ankle injury, and he is available to play at Highbury.
In addition they could be welcoming back their African quartet of El-Hadji Diouf,
Abdoulaye Faye, Jay-Jay Okocha and Radhi Jaidi, all of whom have been knocked out
of the Cup of Nations. It seems likely that Allardyce will give some of them a rest though, but worth noting that Okocha only
got to play in one half of one of Nigeria's games.
But Khalilou Fadiga, Gary Speed and Henrik bloody Pedersen are all ruled out through injury,
as is Diaby's victim from last time,