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Arsenal vs. Bolton match preview

Arsenal will welcome Bolton Wanderers to the Emirates tomorrow for their fourth Premier League fixture of the season.  After a two-week break, the fixtures will start coming fast and furious straight through the October 3rd fixture at Chelsea, with weekend Premier League action buttressed by Champions League matches against Braga and Partizan as well as the Carling Cup 3rd round tie with Tottenham.

The Gunners, of course, will be forced to go into Saturday's match a little shorthanded.  Theo Walcott picked up an ankle injury in England's qualifier against Switzerland and could be out into mid-October.  Prehaps more worryingly, Thomas Vermaelen has sustained an achilles injury, which means he will miss the match tomorrow (although he should be back for the midweek clash with Braga).  Enter Sébastien Squillaci.

It is a shame that Arsenal will go into tomorrow's match without their leading scorer and most dynamic player so far this season, but there are plenty of players who are capable of picking up the scoring reins from the wings.  Vermaelen is perhaps a larger worry, but Squillaci's combative presence and experience could help Laurent Koscielny face the challenge.  Lack of Premier League experience is a slight worry, but perhaps not as much as lack of familiarity with each other.  Manuel Almunia will have to be as his best in terms of directing assignments and communicating to his teammates.

Bolton are not to be taken lightly, of course.  Newish manager Owen Coyle has professed a desire to transform Bolton into a team of heightened technical and passing ability.  Exemplifying his vision for the club was his loan move for Arsenal's Jack Wilshere last winter, a move he was keen to replicate going into this season before Arsène Wenger said "no, but thanks for asking".

Bolton will be led onto the pitch by their captain and striker Kevin Davies, who seems to collect more yellow cards than goals.  Other players of note to keep an eye on include defender and England international Gary Cahill, midfielder Matt Taylor, and former Manchester City midfield star Martin Petrov.

Last time Bolton visited the Emirates, they lost 4-2 to an Arsenal team which, oddly enough, had defeated them 2-0 only three days earlier in the reverse Premier League fixture at the Reebok.  Owen Coyle was in charge for both matches.  In the 4-2 match, Bolton took an early 2-0 lead through Gary Cahill and a Matty Taylor penalty before Arsenal stormed back with four unanswered.

The injuries mean that Wenger faces a couple of decisions: does he simply replace Walcott with a player such as Emmanuel Eboué or Carlos Vela, or does he shift Jack Wilshere from the central midfield and put Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas together?  Or does he put Eboué in the middle with Cesc and Song, and move Diaby or Rosicky out to the right?  Will Denilson finally feature in the Premier League after a good showing in the reserves match on Tuesday?  What does everyone think?  Leave some ideas in the comments.

Potential formation:






With Johan Djourou (maybe), Kieran Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Eboué, Jack the Lad, and Fabianski as subs?

At any rate, here's hoping for the best tomorrow.  The game kicks off at 10 AM EDT, and will be shown domestically on Fox Soccer Channel.