Bolton preview – three points please

Morning.

No happy results yesterday mean that we’ve got to take three points today at the Reebok to just stay in touch. I haven’t watched Match of the Day or anything like that but United scoring late on is, to me anyway, the definition of mental strength. That doesn’t mean they’re not cunts or anything but they do it with such monotonous regularity it was hardly a surprise to anyone.

It means that they only have four games left to drop the points we need them to drop but more realistically it’s an ultra slow-motion montage where the fat lady is about to let rip. All we can do is keep on keeping on and hope for the best but you’d get long odds on anything remarkable happening.

Not least because we can’t seem to buy a win at the moment. Only two wins in our last ten games, more drawing than a room full of Rolf Harrisses and any killer instinct we have seems to be directed at ourselves. Still, the law of averages suggests things have to change sooner or later. So that means a win. Or a loss. Let’s think positive though!

As revealed by Arsene in his press conference the only real absence because of injury is Abou Diaby whose worth you really have to question now. Plays a couple of games, misses a couple of weeks. Plays a couple of games, misses a couple of weeks. I have a lot of sympathy for him and he should be used a poster boy for any campaign against horrendous tackles. Dan Smith’s impact on his career can’t be ignored. From our point of view, however, you just have to wonder how long the club can continue to pay top wages to a player who a) can’t stay fit for any period of time and b) will never find any real form or sharpness because of a).

Thankfully there’s a fantastic, and better, option in Jack Wilshere and I imagine we’ll line up with: SZCZ – Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy – Song – Wilshere – Cesc – Nasri – Walcott – van Persie

Maybe, just maybe, he might mix things up a little bit. It wouldn’t surprise me overly if he found a place for Arshavin but beyond that it’s hard to see where he could change things. Bolton will be right up for this one. Being beaten 5-0 by Stoke at any time demands a response, being beaten 5-0 by Stoke in an FA Cup semi-final will have hurt and they’ll want to make it up to their fans at home today. Kevin Davies will be giving his elbows a teamtalk (“Be strong. Smash mouths and cheekbones. Raaaaarrrrgggh!”) and we’ll have to expect some kind of onslaught.

On the other hand we could catch them feeling a bit sorry for themselves. It’s easy enough to say they’ll respond, and they might try, but defeats like that can be very damaging. I mean, just look at how we’ve reacted to losing the Carling Cup final. Aye, we’re back to that two wins in ten thing again. As much as we’ve tried to do better we’ve been a bit shell-shocked so getting a pasting like that from Stoke might have done them real damage.

We can’t depend on that though and really need to do better today. Take the attacking verve of the Sp*rs performance and tack on a bit of not-letting-goals-in verve too. I don’t know if you’d call that verve. Solidity. Defencealiciousness. Cleansheetimony. Whatever. Some of that. If we can then I’m confident we can take three points. That might be last night’s rum however.

As Goodplaya pointed out in the Arsecast this week, last season’s collapse was utterly horrible. Like a sandwich made of cloves, that black bit along a prawn’s back that you have to hook out and any flavour of Pringles on stale, mouldy bread smeared with value margarine. There could be a definite whiff of Wigan off a couple of our final fixtures so however distant our title hopes are – and I can just about see them on the horizon speeding away and giving me the finger – we have to make sure we push it as far as we possibly can.

It’s down to the players and hopefully they can summon the right amount of personal pride and pride in the shirt to go out there today and just win the fucking game. It’s not too much to ask.

As usual there’ll be live blog coverage of the game – check back later for the details of that – and if you do fancy a flutter on the game beforehand check out our Arsenal Odds page for the best prices on a range of markets.

Beyond that, not much going on. The manager says he’s ‘optimistic’ about a new deal for Samir Nasri and also for Gael Clichy. For the former, I hope that’s true, the latter, as I told you a couple of weeks back, withdrew from contract talks and there’s an expectation he could be moved on this summer. Whatever he says now about the summer being quiet, I suspect it’ll be busier than normal.

Anyway, that’s yer lot. Time for breakfast, bacon and easter eggs. Until later.

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