Bolton Wanderers will have a point to prove following the embarrassing 5:0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Stoke, whereas the Trotters also need a victory in order to remain in contention for the European places. Arsenal missed a great chance to close in on Manchester United as they could only draw with Tottenham after squandering a two-goal lead, with the Gunners also looking to make amends in this clash.
Can Bolton recover from the FA Cup blow?
Having played some great football this term, Bolton were seen as hot favourites in their FA Cup semi-final clash with Stoke, but the Trotters showed their worst performance of the season at Wembley to lose the game 5:0. There is no doubt that the heavy defeat was a major blow to the players’ confidence, but if there is a man who can pick the players up following a major disappointment it is Owen Coyle. He has done that with both St Johnstone and Burnley, so there is no reason to believe he cannot do it again with Bolton. One disappointing defeat cannot change the fact that Bolton have been pretty impressive throughout the season and the Trotters definitely have enough motives to play on since they are still in the race for European places. Bolton trail Liverpool and Everton by six and four points respectively, but have a game in hand and pretty easy fixture list following the clash with Arsenal, so I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if the Trotters manage to finish the season in Europa League place.
Matt Taylor, Daniel Sturridge and Mark Davies look set to return to the starting line-up, whole Sean Davis, Stuart Holden and Sam Ricketts remain sidelined.
Arsenal missed another chance
Arsenal have really impressed in some games this season and throughout the league campaign the Gunners were the only team following Manchester United closely, but Arsene Wenger’s side have utterly failed every time they had a chance to close the gap behind their title rivals, exhibiting numerous weaknesses when playing under pressure. Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six league games, but have won only one of those, proving they are running on empty following a very hectic schedule. Facing the prospect of another trophy-less season, the pressure on the players as well as the boss is constantly growing and the young squad is clearly not capable of coping at the moment, as witnessed by the 3:3 draw with Tottenham in which they failed to hold on to a two-goal lead. Following a draining tie with fierce rivals, Arsenal are set to face a very motivated opponent and I am not sure they can show a massive improvement at Reebok.
Abou Diaby has joined the lengthy injury list that also consists of Kyle Bartley, Thomas Vermaelen, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone, whereas Tomas Rosicky is a doubt with illness.
Bolton have shown a lot of character this season and I believe they have what it takes to recover from the disappointing FA Cup exit, and having not featured in midweek, the Trotters should have an extra edge over weary Arsenal. The Gunners have won just one of their last six league games and the trend looks likely to continue.
Our prediction: Bolton with +0.5 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.15 (23/20)