Arsenal v Bolton preview: Who would have predicted Squillaci to partner Koscielny?

Praise the high heavens: the football is back!

It seems like forever since our impressive win over Blackburn and I’m as excited as anyone about the prospect of taking on Bolton at The Emirates today.

After speaking in detail about the injuries to Robin van Persie and particularly Theo Walcott over the past couple of days, it is frustrating to reveal that Mr Unbreakable, Thomas Vermaelen, can also be added to the list. He sustained a minor achilles problem playing for Belgium against Turkey and will not feature against Bolton, joining Messrs. van Persie, Walcott, Bendtner and Ramsey in the section marked ‘unavailable’.

Vermaelen’s injury means an earlier-than-expected debut for Sebastien Squillaci, who will partner Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence. They’ll have a reasonably tough job against Kevin Davies at the back and it will be interesting to see how this new pairing performs. I think Koscielny in particular will relish the physical challenge.

By the way, hands up anyone who predicted we would be playing that centre-back pairing six months ago? Didn’t think so.

As usual, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna will provide support on the flanks, while a combination of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby looks likely in the centre of midfield. The word from the manager is that Samir Nasri is completely fit and ready to play after his knee problem, whilst Denilson is also available after completing 90 minutes for the reserves midweek. Jack Wilshere will also be itching to get a game against the club he was loaned to last season so we’re certainly not short of quality in this area of the pitch.

The same can’t be said of our striking options: Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin will essentially start by default even if the right-wing position is up for grabs. Who will Wenger go for? Rosicky? Eboue? Vela? Only he knows.

The final spot in the team will be taken up by Manuel Almunia, whom the manager has stated has “dealt very well” with the uncertainty over the goalkeeper jersey. The Spaniard will be hoping for a commanding performance to justify Wenger’s decision, as will all of the supporters who wait with baited breath for his first mistake.

A home game against Bolton falls into the must-win category for a team chasing the title and Wenger and the lads will be hoping to put in a good performance and come away with three points. The corresponding fixture in last season saw us come from two goals down to win 4-2, with Rosicky scoring a belter.

A similar result with a little less stress would be ideal for the lads (and my heart).


Have your say on Arsenal v Bolton by leaving a comment.



  1. AW, no one would have guessd the pairing of the two…
    i will go for a 3 – 0 result in our favour, scorers being Diaby, Chamakh & Arshavin…

  2. With RVP and Walcott out we need a big aggresively attacking performance from Cesc. Come on,lad. Time for some payback for the fans.

  3. A bit of topic here but Andrew you look like Tom Cruise, not the dwarf actor but our junior gunners….yeah its random day.

  4. I don’t want to read, that Almunia could do anything with this goal, who was it with this unlucky backheader? Koscielny or the other one, Scilaccy? ❓ so once more please………….

  5. That was a good result 4-1 and The Trotters were sent back ooop nooorth with their tales between their legs.

    Difficult game to watch, on, as they had the Arsenal game with the West Brom/ Spurs commentary.

    Still I’m happy with the outcome although it looks a if Diaby is injured again.

  6. 4-1 is a good win….(Walcott and RVP injuries)
    I think that we’ll be better off without RVP right now
    I just don’t think he was doing his best before he was injured
    Who Knows? Maybe he’ll get his form back as soon as he returns

  7. Big win for the Arsenal this also show that we have some depth the defence still looks shaky (as it was new today i guess) we need to be strong at the back. The attack is fine so far but the defence has let in 3 goals in 4 games and easy goals at that we need to get this right soon we let in too much goals last season. Other than that good win lets keep it going
    Go ARSENAL……………………

  8. I think we’re badly exposed at the back with a new centre of defence pairing and a keeper that doesn’t inspire much confidence. Almunia has got his spot by default – there’s no other way to look at it. I would be asking Song to play tight in front of the central defenders and ask the left and right backs to throw themselves in front of any attempted crosses.

  9. Good result if a bit nervy at times! Apart from the mistake for their goal, thought the keeper and center backs did pretty well on the whole. I thought Chamakh was great – worked his socks off, linked up well with Fab and Arsh. Good to see Gibbs get a start and Song was my MoM – not a bad goal for a defensive midfielder. Is it me or does Fabregas just seem a bit subdued right now. He still played some fantastic football but not sure he is quite 100%.

  10. Fab does seem a bit “subdued” right now, but it doesn’t matter as long as he keeps making assists like he did today. Chamakh, Rosicky, and Song continued to play well. I was thrilled to see Gibbs get a start. I really think that he will give Clichy a run for his money. He’s tough, quick, and seems to be able to send crosses into the box better than Clichy. Of course, Gibbs has to get a shot against the likes of Chelsea and United, but he is the real deal.

  11. The 2nd half was a brilliant show to watch against Bolton.Gibbs is more reliable than Clichy but yesterday’s show was stolen by Cesc. The new hairstyle looks working for Song.Well mistakes in defense,but do not care about that because the score can easily become 5 or 6 goals for us,Arshavin’s tricks did not work,Well,everyone knows Chamakh is great in the air.Squllaci missed couple of chances.But it’s only the first game,It is always good to start the career in a club with a win.

  12. good result…but Fab seems to have lost little bit of interest. Will he be fired up for the big games? that remains to be seen. Almunia is still a liability and doesn’t instill confidence in the lads in front of him. poor chap.

  13. At the back Gibbs was very good and looks a real prospect at left back and shows its one of the few positiions where we aren’t a single bad moment from real catatstrophe. Koscieny is doing well but simply needs to bulk up a bit for Premiership football. Was delighted for Vela. While I still think he’s a La Liga player and just won’t be a Premiership player I can reallyhope he can prove me wrong on this. His run was excellent and his finish terrific. He absolutely deserved it. He’s clealry a good player its just whether he is or can be a good Premiership player match in match out that remains to be seen.

  14. one thing all Arsenal fans should do:LETS ALL FORGET ABOUT Diaby, Walcott,and RVP as part of the Arsenal Core. These guys are blessed with amazing technical ability but year in and year out they contribute too little for the team during a full season.
    They spend most of the time nursing injuries or trying to gain back match fitness as a result. Our future will be through the likes of guys like Song (very impressive today), Sagna, Vermaleen, Arshavin. These guys contribute for the season! they bleed and battle all season long and remain dependable. I saw Diaby limped off injured yet again (another 3 weeks lay off, plus 3 weeks to gain form.. so pretty much gone for over a month) what good is he? this has been happening every year, and the fans still can’t see past their sensational soccer abilities. I say its time to cut off the bad branches and let them go, there is nothing to fear as they will always be on the injured list no matter where they go.
    On another note, Song to me has been a rock! his touches seem to be better and better.. and all his tackle are full of strength and power.he gives 100% going forward and 100% comming back. A winner for sure…This is the “Real Diaby” that he is about to become, minus the lazy legs and fragile bones.
    Fabregas was beyond world class even though , he still looks unhappy – you can only imagine how well he could play if he was happy. Gibbs is better than Clichy (everyone knows but afraid to say it). Roscicy form is certainly something to talk about, he is like his old self.
    All in all, we looked good without a buncha of first teamers.. Great Win…

  15. @ Lil Weezy – It seems a little harsh on Diaby. It sounds like you think it was his fault or something…

    “I saw Diaby limped off injured yet again (another 3 weeks lay off, plus 3 weeks to gain form.. so pretty much gone for over a month) what good is he?”

    What exactly was he supposed to do about the tackle?

  16. Surely its gettin too much to contain. He seems to be made of glass. Any slight tackle is an injury to Daiby and Persie. I just wish we could forget about these guys and we relegate them to second team players instead of the first eleven. They are getting big contracts for really nothing done. I just wish Chamak could add in some urgency and desire in front of goal, he could be among the big time goal getters though at the moment he lacks the urgency and agility we see in Drogba or rooney. We may remain third best this season if we dont improve yet United is there for the taking this season.The orther part we have to improve is defense. Squilaci seems to be falling in the same trap like galas did of trying to be a striker yet he is a defender only to be brought back on counter attacks. Our strategy of beating big teams wil be to remain calm at the back and wait for an opening to counter attack. Otherwise in open play we cant pass by Chelsea or United. I just hope Arshavin remains healthy for ever. He is the real deal if we are to win things unlike pretenders like Persie. Atleast Bendtner can show some much desire of wanting to score. Chamak was lost throughout the game until that header. That is so worrying.

  17. Taclke on Diaby was harsh, there is no doubt about it…nothing he could have done to stop it, but why is it always happening to Diaby, RVP and Walcott (lengthy layoff)? Compile their last 3 yrs input and you will notice that their production is always about half a season…
    What would be of Rooney if he only played half a season every year? or Drogba?

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