Bolton hosts Arsenal at Reebok Stadium on Feb. 1 in an important English Premier League match for both struggling teams. Bolton has won three, lost one and drawn one in their last five games overall, including three in a row, which is their best form of the season so far. Arsenal has lost three and won two and have lost their last three league games. However, Arsenal has beaten Bolton four out of their last five meetings, including a 3-0 league home win in September and a 2-1 home Carling Cup win a month later.
Arsenal sits in fifth place in the league table with 36 points from 11 wins, three draws and eight losses. Bolton is in 17th place, with six wins, one draw and 15 losses for 19 points. They’re just one point ahead of the relegation zone and have lost a league-leading 15 games so far this season. They’ve also let in a league-high 47 goals and 25 at home.
Bolton has been a thorn in the side of Arsenal over the years. The two clubs have met 66 times in the past with Bolton winning 31 of them and Arsenal just 17 times with the other 18 games being draws. In addition, Arsenals’ been pretty poor this season away from Emirates Stadium, so that should give Bolton a little bit of hope.
The three points are huge for both teams since Arsenal is hoping to catch Chelsea for fourth place in the league and a spot in next season’s Champions League. Bolton need to stay above the three teams behind them to avoid relegation at the end of the current season. A loss here for either team would seriously damage their hopes. A draw wouldn’t really do them much good either.
Bolton sold defender Gary Cahill in the January transfer window to Chelsea so that’s not going to help their immediate cause. Also, first team goalkeeper Jussi Jasskelainen might miss the game and could be replaced by Adam Bogdan. That shouldn’t really be a cause for concern though as Bogdan has played well when called upon. Ricardo Gardner will likely be missing as well, however Gretar Steinsson, Zat Knight, Kevin Davies, and Paul Robinson should all be in the squad. Tim Ream has joined the team from the New York Red Bulls and should be included.
For Arsenal, striker Gervinho is away playing in the African Cup of Nations and Jack Wilshere is having ankle problems and will likely still be out of the lineup. Bacary Sagna returned to the squad on the weekend and should be able to play.
Predictions and Betting Odds
Both teams won their last matches, which were FA Cup games on the weekend. Arsenal came back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at home while Bolton beat Swansea 2-1 at home. This should be a closer match than the standings would have you believe. However, Arsenal should use their superior talent and skill to escape with a narrow win and take three points home with them.
Sportsbook William Hill’s latest odds show a Blackburn win at 13/8 with a Newcastle victory at 17/10 and a draw at 11/5.