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Bolton Preview: Tottenham are better at being bad
Friday, 23rd Sep 2011 12:25
Our next two away games are at Tottenham and Chelsea so we need to pick up maximum points at home, starting with Bolton tomorrow.
After a Carling Cup win, the squad can suddenly look a lot stronger, particularly when you have been made to look better than you are by League Two opposition. Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stood out but both may struggle to make the squad tomorrow.
Tottenham made a very bad start a few seasons ago but changed their manager and finished the season strongly, qualifying for the Champions League in the following season. Despite our very poor start our lowly neighbours have proved that you can come back and we are not in as big a slump as they were. Another positive is that both Spurs and Liverpool, our main challengers for fourth place are also struggling for consistent form. If we can find that illusive consistency and build some momentum, this season can still be a decent one.
On the pitch something has to change and there has been a lot of talk about our style of play becoming more direct. Whilst there are signs this is true, the end product is still a long way short of being instinctive, particularly for our wingers.
We put in a good performance in Dortmund but Gervinho and Walcott spent much of the match running as fast as they could straight into the opposition. They appeared so determined to hit the by-line that they forgot about passing or shooting. This is infuriating to watch as a fan but when used sparingly it can be a good tactic to push the opposition on to the back foot and a team needs pace in these positions. Our main alternative at the moment is Arshavin who lacks the pace of Gervinho and Walcott but is also suffering from endproductivitus.
When the Russian first joined the club he would shoot from anywhere but his attempts on goal now have largely been reduced to rushed efforts once the passing options have run out. He is not on his own either as Tomas Rosicky also lost his shooting boots at Arsenal and the long range strike is a skill that has long been missing in our first team. Interestingly it did reappear in the week when Frimpong, Coquelin and Oxlade Chamberlain all peppered the Shrewsbury goal, hopefully it is a weakness that is in the process of being rectified.
Ashley Young and Nani also have the frustrating traits that many wingers display but they do get their head up early and are not afraid to attack the space and shoot at will, not judging it to only be a last resort. Striking a ball when you are well prepared produces much better results than when you are off balance and Man Utd are currently receiving the spectacular rewards of this obvious fact.
Bolton have also endured a poor start to the season and a sold out Grove will be desperate for the side to win and maybe even put in a good performance. After Johan Djourou’s slide into mediocrity, seeing Mertesacker and Koscielny back will be a relief despite the Ewood Park debacle and Kieran Gibbs may expect to keep his place after a good performance on Tuesday so this is the possible line-up:
Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Gervinho, Walcott, Van Persie
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