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Arsenal V Bolton at Emirates Stadium : Match Preview
Published : 23 Sep 2011 16:32:20
Wenger still gunning for title glory.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists the race for the Barclays Premier League title is far from over despite the Gunners trailing Manchester United by 11 points already.
The north Londoners have endured their worst start to a campaign under Wenger's guidance, having lost three of their five league games including an 8-2 mauling by United at Old Trafford. By contrast, the defending champions have swept all before them, chalking up maximum points with some impressive displays.
Wenger, though, maintains it is far too early to be writing anyone off or crowning any side champions elect. "Of course I am worried. It is absolutely not realistic not to be worried when you have a team like Manchester United in front of you," the Frenchman said ahead of tomorrow's Premier League game with Bolton at the Emirates Stadium. "The only thing we can do is focus on our performances, win our games and hope they will drop some points at some stage.
"However, at the moment I am more concerned by us than them. If they do a perfect season, they do a perfect season. Until now, only one team did that - Arsenal." Gunners was referring to Arsenal's unbeaten 2003/04 league campaign, and accepts at the moment that just rediscovering the winning feeling is the most pressing priority for his current side. Wenger added: "What is important for us is to give absolutely everything to do it (win the title), but at the moment it is too early to speak about that.
"Let's come back to a better distance with the top teams before we speak about that. If the team gets momentum, we can be very strong. "I still believe we paid a very heavy price for the Udinese (Champions League play-off) game, where we didn't get any credit at all. Today, they are (joint) top of the (Italian) league. "We had to give absolutely everything (in the Champions League game) against Dortmund and in the second half at Blackburn you could see that.
"Our start of the season was disturbed by the transfers (of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri) and by the fact that we had to qualify for the Champions League. We lost a lot of energy in these games." Arsenal will welcome back midfielder Aaron Ramsey (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (knee) for the game. Full-back Bacary Sagna has recovered from a dead leg suffered in the 4-3 defeat at Blackburn. However, midfielder Yossi Benayoun (thigh) and centre-half Johan Djourou (hamstring) picked up minor knocks in the midweek Carling Cup win over Shrewsbury. Midfielders Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and defender Thomas Vermaelen continue their rehabilitation from ankle injuries. Meanwhile, Owen Coyle is convinced Arsenal will finish in the top four despite their woeful start to the season.
"Arsenal are an elite club," said the Scot. "They are still going to figure in the top four. "If anything, they will be much more dangerous because they are looking to get up and running. "They want to get back to the levels they know they are capable of. "They are at home. It will be a packed ground. That tells you it will be difficult. "But we want to delay them getting up and running for another week. To do that, we need everyone at the top of our game."
Coyle will make a late check on Stuart Holden before deciding on the United States midfielder's availability for the clash. Holden returned from a six-month absence with a knee injury in Tuesday's win at Aston Villa but Coyle does not want to jeopardise the influential midfielder's fitness by demanding too much, too soon. Ricardo Gardner (groin) will also be checked after making his first appearance of the season at Villa Park as the Trotters look to end a four-game losing streak by beating Arsenal away from home in the league for the first time since 1962.
Arsenal V Bolton - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.