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OC: Elite Arsenal can go fourth
Published : 23 Sep 2011 13:40:00
olton boss Owen Coyle is convinced Arsenal will finish in the top four of the Premier League despite their woeful start to the season. The Gunners head into Saturday's encounter with Bolton at Emirates Stadium hovering dangerously over the relegation zone, with just four points to their name. It did appear they had halted the slide with a couple of decent results following that eight-goal annihilation by Manchester United, only for some disastrous defending at Blackburn last weekend to condemn them to another defeat. A first home league loss to Bolton since 1962 would turf Arsene Wenger's men into the drop zone and heighten the anxiety amongst the London club's demanding supporters. Yet Coyle has no doubt whatever the result, Arsenal's present problems are short-term, and will have been resolved before the campaign reaches its climax. "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." Although the respective wage bills differ widely, there are a number of similarities between Coyle and Wenger at present. Both suffer from heightened expectations amongst their club's fans due to standards they have set. Both had difficulty recruiting the players they wanted for the start of the season. And both are now under pressure. Being criticised is a new experience for Coyle in his managerial career. Since he took the reins at St Johnstone in 2005, aged 38, the former Airdrie striker has been on a steep upward curve, including taking Burnley into the Premier League. He stabilised Bolton after finding the club in dire straits when he left Turf Moor and until last season's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Stoke, appeared set to claim a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, that five-goal hammering at Wembley sapped confidence at The Reebok. The Trotters ended last term with five successive defeats and despite winning at QPR on the opening day of this season, have subsequently lost four on the bounce, culminating in last weekend's dismal home loss to previously winless Norwich. "Last season is finished with," said Coyle. "The only thing I am concerned with is this one. "I have had seven years as a manager, during which the trajectory has always been upward. There has been relative success everywhere I have been. "If people have a different opinion, it is certainly not nice. I don't enjoy it. But you have to give balance to it. "It will be the same people saying things who have previously been complimentary. The only way to rectify that is to win your games."