Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Bolton Wanderers, Carling Cup Fourth Round

Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday, October 25
2:45 p.m. EDT, 7:45 p.m. BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Anthony Taylor
    • Assistants: Ron Ganfield and Glenn Turner
    • 4th Official: Phil Dowd
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 57 Arsenal wins, 39 Bolton wins, 35 draws
  • Previous Meeting This Year: Arsenal 3 - 0 Bolton
  • Arsenal's Path Here
    • Round 3: 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town
  • Bolton's Path Here
    • Round 2: 2-1 win over Macclesfield Town
    • Round 3: 2-0 win over Aston Villa
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-L-W-L-W-W
  • Bolton's League Form: L-L-L-L-W-L
Quick preview this time around, with very little time between this weekend's win over Stoke and this Carling Cup tie leaving me almost no time to write a lot / think of sarcastic jokes. Arsenal have climbed up to 7th in the table, having been as far down as 17th place at one point. That point was right before playing this very fixture, at home against Bolton Wanderers, on September 24, just after the fourth round drawing took place.

Normally, I'd talk a bit about form right here, and what Arsenal needs to focus on in this game to move forward, but in the early rounds of the Carling Cup, a lot of that goes out the window. It's all about having a mix of youth and experience, blooding the youngsters, and all that. You know the drill.

Arsenal Squad News

Vermaelen could return, since he's sick of practicing
against wire players without arms. Photo: Daily Mail.
With a match played just two days ago and Chelsea looming on the horizon this weekend, the timing of this Carling Cup tie is clearly not the best. Seems to me that there'll need to be more squad rotation that Arsene Wenger might have wanted. So, let's take a look at who might be playing, shall we?

There are some near definites. Lukasz Fabianski will start in goal. With time to rest for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, this should be the first appearance of Sebastien Squillaci this year (oh boy!) It's been said Thomas Vermaelen will be handed a start at center back. If he's not actually ready, I'd expect Ignasi Miquel there.

With so many injuries to the full backs, in order to have any squad rotation and rest for the usuals, some reserves will need to start. This means Miquel will start no matter what Vermaelen's fitness level, as he can take over at one of the full back roles, with Nico Yennaris starting on the other side.

Ju Young Park should start up front, with Robin van Persie rested and Marouane Chamakh coming off a start. Yossi Benayoun will start since he needs minutes and can't play Saturday against Chelsea. I could see someone like Arshavin getting a start too on the wing, as he played limited minutes on Sunday, but I could be way off the mark there. He has been named in the 18-man list, though. Starts are almost guaranteed for Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Predicted XI: Fabianski, Yennaris, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Miquel, Coquelin, Frimpong, Benayoun, Arshavin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park. Subs from: Mannone, Boateng, Aneke, Miyaichi, Meade, Ozyakup, Watt.

Bolton Squad News

On-loan defender Dedryck Boyata limped off against Sunderland at the weekend, but is cup tied anyway. Fellow left back Marcos Alonso is also unavailable with a broke foot.

Bolton has a long list of long term injuries as well, with Stuart Holden (knee), Chung-Yong Lee (leg), Tyrone Mears (leg), Sean Davis (knee), and Sam Ricketts (calf) all out.

Bolton will likely hand their usual subs a start in this match, meaning we could see players like Adam Bogdan in goal, plus Zat Knight, Gretar Steinsson, Fabrice Muamba, Ivan Klasnic and Tuncay on the pitch.

Current Form

Bolton is even letting Bendtner score goals.
Photo: Guardian.
Given the way this season has started for Arsenal, most would be wary to say this team has "turned the corner" yet, especially given that the last time we all thought they were close to that, they imploded to allow two own goals and gave bottom of the table Blackburn their only win of the season thus far. But, since that game, Arsenal have lost only once (though, bitterly, it was the derby at White Hart Lane.) Still, it's six wins from seven for Arsenal, and they're currently on a three match winning streak and have also won six straight at home. A win today would make it four across all competitions for the first time since a six match winning streak that was halted at Newcastle in February. Still can't wipe that one from my mind.

As for Bolton, they enter this match in much more dire straits. After an opening day thumping of QPR, Bolton have only won once in the eight following league games, a 3-1 win over Wigan. That form is good for 18th in the table and serious relegation discussion. At the weekend, they fell 2-0 at home to Sunderland. To get to this point in the Carling Cup, they beat League Two Macclesfield Town before, more impressively, knocking off Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Match Facts

Before Bolton's 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Reebok on Easter Sunday, the Gunners had won nine straight matches against the Trotters across all competitions. Arsenal has attempted to start that streak anew, winning 3-0 against Bolton last month at the Emirates. Robin van Persie scored twice (I like how often that's been happening this year; that was the first of now three braces for the Dutchman) and Alex Song added more insurance just before added time as the Gunners beat 10-man Bolton to start climbing in the table.

This is the first time Arsenal have played Bolton in the League Cup. They've met 10 times in the FA Cup, with Arsenal winning six and Bolton winning four ties. Four required replays, three of which were won by Arsenal. Bolton has only won eight matches ever against Arsenal in North London. The last time the Trotters came away with a win on the road against the Gunners was in the FA Cup on February 9, 1994 (which required extra time.) Before that, their last win at Highbury was on January 13, 1962.

The Referee

To be honest, sending off Lee Cattermole
is rarely a difficult decision.
Photo: Daily Mail.
The referee is Manchester-based Anthony Taylor, who has worked only one Arsenal match before in his career, March's 0-0 draw with Sunderland. You may recall that in the final ten minutes of that match, the Gunners were denied a penalty shout and had a winning goal disallowed when Andrei Arshavin was incorrectly flagged offside. Arsene Wenger said of the decision at the time that he was "too disgusted" to talk about it. So, no, Arsenal does not have a good, if small, history with Taylor.

He has also taken charge of only one Bolton match; he worked their 3-0 loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage in April.

Elsewhere in the Carling Cup

Aldershot Town, the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition, gets the challenge of hosting Manchester United at home in the EBB Stadium today. The stadium has a capacity of 7,100. Elsewhere, two all Championship ties happen tonight as Cardiff City hosts Burnley in Wales, and Crystal Palace hosts Southampton at Selhurst Park.

Tomorrow sees four all-Premier League ties. Stoke City, who beat Spurs on penalties, hosts Liverpool at the Britannia, Wolves welcomes this weekend's big winners, Manchester City, to Molineux, Blackburn Rovers will play host to Newcastle United, who haven't lost a match yet this year, and Everton hosts Chelsea at Goodison Park. Everton knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup last year on penalties.