Today is a good chance for players who need playing time to play, and for fans to see future Arsenal stars in the making. The squad announced for today’s match sees a good mixture of experience and raw talents. Vermaelen has return from injury, whereas Diaby still misses out. Squad is as follows:
Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone, Sebastien Squillaci, Thomas Vermaelen, Andrey Arshavin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Yossi Benayoun, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Ryo, Ju Young Park, Nico Yennaris, Ignasi Miquel, Jernade Meade, Oguzhan Ozyakup, Sanchez Watt, Chuks Aneke, Daniel Boateng
According to YoungGuns, Nico Yennaris is slated for his debut, and set to feature at right back, as Jenkinson remains out injured, while Ignasi Miquel, who has been decent so far in his first teams forays, is set slot in that left back position as Gibbs is still out injured. Vermaelen and Squilaci, both in need of game time to regain match fitness, are also likely to start as centre backs. I would expect Fabianski to start so as to gain some playing time and be match fit.
In midfield, Coquelin, Frimpong and Benayoun are my pick to start. Frimpong provides energy and drive, and is able to run back and forth tirelessly to aid in attack in defense. His energy and size would also help our midfield cope well with Bolton’s physical play. Coquelin, being calm and composed, and good defensively, is able to help Frimpong control the midfield. Benayoun would then be there to provide some experience and creativity as the deep holding playmaker in my opinion. However, Arsene has also given hint that Aneke might start or feature some time in the match, and hyped up the youngster as being a bit like Yaya Toure.
Up front, Oxlade-Chamberlain should start, as should Park and Watt. Arsene has explained why Park hasn’t started at all recently, but says that Park needs time to adapt to the game. Frankly, how is he going to do that if he doesn’t play more games?! The Ox directness and physicality should serve him well against the Trotters.
So, for me, the starting 11 should look something like this:
Fabianski, Yennaris, Miquel, Vermaelen, Squilaci, Frimpong, Coquelin, Benayoun, Ox, Watt, Park.
Seeing as this is a game against Bolton, you can expect plenty of tackles to fly in and fouls to be committed to prevent Arsenal from playing their game. As such, any set pieces we get have to be taken meaningfully, and not swished over the bar or having a corner balloon to the other side of the pitch without finding a team mate. Maybe the lads can learn from RVP how take a free kick, and that is not to think about it at all. Whatever it is, all chances must be grabbed with both hands, and not with profligacy.
Arsenal are also likely to start as underdogs, as we would be fielding an understrength team, while Bolton should be starting with their first team. However, if we are found wanting and requires the need of experience players, I expect that is where players like Arshavin and Ryo comes off the bench to help inject some creativity and pace into the side.
It’s a hard call to make, and I would not underestimate Bolton, who could do with a win to boost confidence, hence I would say a 1-1 draw is forthcoming. However, I am an Arsenal fan, and a victory is what I am looking for. SO COME ON YOU GUNNERS!