Bolton vs. Arsenal England Premier League Matchday 34, Reebok Stadium Bolton England 10 AM EST Sunday April 24, 2011
by Jason Green, Soccer Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Arsenal 1.70 / Bolton 4.60 / Draw 3.60
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Arsenal -142 / Bolton +360 / Draw +260
Both teams have a lot to play for in this matchday 34, as the England Premier League season only has a handful of matches left. Arsenal is tied for 2nd place in the EPL with Chelsea 6 points behind Manchester United so there is still hope for the Gunners to win the league title. Bolton is currently in the 8th position in the league tables and they would like to move up to, at least, 7th so they will get an automatic Europa League bid next season.
Bolton has to recover from their last match when they were throttled losing 5-0 to Stoke City in the semifinals of the FA Cup. Arsenal is coming off a tie in their last match to Tottenham and even though they are favored in this match if they lose or even draw it will drastically hurt their chances to win the EPL this season.
These teams met on Arsenal’s pitch in the beginning of the season and Arsenal beat Bolton 4-1. Bolton is 2-2 in their last 4 EPL matches and they will need to play much better on the defensive end of the pitch than they did in their FA Cup loss.
Arsenal has given up golden opportunities to move up in the league table lately, as in their last 5 EPL matches they have won one time and played to 4 draws.
This season in the EPL Arsenal has scored 66 goals and given up 34 and Bolton has scored 46 goals and given up 43.
In their match earlier this season Arsenal won the time of possession battle 65% to 35% and the Gunners had 13 more shots on goal (22-9). These teams play a contrasting style with Bolton being a tough team that scores on set pieces while Arsenal plays a very flowing game that depends on passing. Bolton must disrupt the passing of the Gunners, especially in the midfield, or they will lose this match.
Bolton Recent Form
4/17/2011 Bolton 0 Stoke City 5 (FA Cup semis)
4/9/2011 Bolton 3 West Ham 0 (EPL)
4/2/2011 Birmingham 2 Bolton 1 (EPL)
3/19/2011 Manchester United 1 Bolton 0 (EPL)
3/12/2011 Birmingham 2 Bolton 3 (FA Cup quarters)
Arsenal Recent Form
4/20/2011 Tottenham 3 Arsenal 3 (EPL)
4/17/2011 Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 (EPL)
4/10/2011 Blackpool 1 Arsenal 3 (EPL)
4/2/2011 Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0 (EPL)
3/19/2011 West Bromwich 2 Arsenal 2 (EPL)
For Arsenal G Lukasz Fabianski is questionable for this match due to injury and DF Thomas Vermaelen is out with a long-term injury. For Bolton F Kevin Davies is the main injury concern and he will likely not play due to injury.
Bolton’s defense really has to key on Robin Van Persie, who ranks 3rd in the EPL in goals scored. He, Samir Nasri, and Theo Walcott have combined to score 32 goals on the season and each scored in their last match against Tottenham. While I don’t think all 3 will score again 2 of these forwards will find the net in this match.
Johan Elmander (10 goals) is the only player for Bolton that ranks in the top 25 of league scorers in the EPL. Their offense is solid on set pieces and the Gunners will have to be wary of that. Elmander and Kevin Davies (7 goals) will have to pressure young backup G Wojciech Szcz?sny of Arsenal in this match. Bolton does not have a lethal offense, but Arsenal has had their defensive issues of late so Bolton will score in this match.
Bolton G Jussi Jaaskelainen must play a great match, as he will likely get peppered in this match. He has 3 clean sheets in his last 10 matches and he will not add to that total in this match.
Both teams have an O/U 2.5 goals total of 5-5 in their last 10 matches.
Jason’s Pick: Bolton has had a pretty good season this year, but they do not have the talent to match up to Arsenal. The Gunners will, once again, win the time of possession in this match and win by a score of 2-1 or 3-1.