Arsenal v Bolton preview
Gunners and Trotters both seeking boost
Last Updated: September 24, 2011 10:21am
Arsenal entertain Bolton on Saturday in a clash between two sides who will be desperately seeking a return to form.
The Gunners had appeared to be turning a corner after their well-documented problems at the start of the season, having followed up a 1-0 victory over Swansea with a creditable 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in Europe.
However, they suffered an agonising setback last weekend with a 4-3 defeat to struggling Blackburn, leading to renewed scrutiny over the future of Arsene Wenger.
The beleaguered boss received support from chief executive Ivan Gazidis and stated after Tuesday's nervy Carling Cup victory over Shrewsbury that he would be happy to stay at the club for 'another 14 years'.
Results will have to improve quickly, though, and Arsenal will be determined to start pulling away from their current position of 17th in the Premier League when Bolton visit the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger is still without a number of key players due to injury, including Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, while he is likely to recall a host of senior players after making changes for the game with Shrewsbury.
It is the make-up of his defence that will be causing Wenger's biggest headache, especially with Thomas Vermaelen still sidelined following ankle surgery, as there was little sign against Blackburn that his new-look back four will be any more solid than previous incarnations.
Andre Santos may be replaced at left-back by Kieran Gibbs but Per Mertesacker is likely to stay in the side despite an unconvincing performance at Ewood Park.
Wenger moved for the German after having a bid rejected for Gary Cahill before the transfer deadline, and there will be an opportunity to compare and contrast the two players on Saturday.
Arsenal's pursuit of Cahill sparked some verbal sparring between Wenger and Owen Coyle, but the Bolton manager has been fulsome in his praise for the long-serving Frenchman this week.
Coyle has come under some pressure himself following four successive defeats in the Premier League, with last weekend's 2-1 loss at home to newly-promoted Norwich leaving Bolton second from bottom.
The Trotters did at least manage to beat Aston Villa 2-0 in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, when Stuart Holden returned from a six-month knee injury lay-off.
Coyle will now make a late check on Holden before deciding on the USA midfielder's availability, as he does not want to demand too much, too soon.
Ricardo Gardner (groin) will also be checked after making his first appearance of the season at Villa Park, but Ivan Klasnic is suspended following his red card against Norwich and Lee Chong-yong and Tyrone Mears remain long-term absentees.
Possible starting XIs
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Pratley, Reo-Coker, Muamba, Petrov, Davies, Tuncay.
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