Arsenal boss considering defender’s return for trip to Bolton
Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal, Premier League, Reebok Stadium, Wednesday February 1, 8pm
Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal they will need to be at their best to end their run of three straight Premier League defeats at Bolton tonight.
The Gunners head to the Reebok Stadium buoyed by Sunday’s 3-2 FA Cup revival against Aston Villa.
However defeats to Manchester United, Swansea and Fulham saw then endure a pointless January in the Premier League and Wenger has earmarked tonight’s clash for an instant recovery.
“Our target is to continue what we did against Aston Villa,” said Wenger. “It will be a competitive game. No matter who you play in the Premier League, whether it is first or last, you have a competitive game. If you don’t really produce a top-class performance you don’t win the game.
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“I felt we produced the effort to come back [on Sunday]. The first half was played a bit with the handbrake on because, of course, we had been touched by the fact that recently results went against us. In the second half when we just let it go I felt that we had an outstanding performance.
“The spirit is great in the team, they have character and it was a good opportunity to show it on Sunday. I think just the fact that we realised that you have to give it all or you are out. It made a big impact.”
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Wenger is set to welcome back defender Bacary Sagna, after the Frenchman made his return from the bench on Sunday following four months out with a broken leg.
Sagna may start on the bench again as Johan Djourou is also fit, but Wenger will once again ask Thomas Vermaelen to deputise at left-back with Kieran Gibbs not yet match fit.
“He [Gibbs] had a normal training session [on Tuesday]. It is very positive because he was out for the whole season basically. He played a few games at the start very early.
“He is still short to play now but it is good news to have him back and I think one or two more weeks practice will get him back to being available again.”
“Sagna was out for a shorter time than Gibbs. He is a bit ahead of him training-wise. Sagna is a bit early still [for Bolton] but you never know. I might consider it because I have to check all the recoveries of the players who played on Sunday.”
The Gunners defeated Bolton 3-0 at the Emirates back in September, but Wenger believes the Trotters are better than their lowly league position suggests.
“I always felt that they would recover because they have the basic quality. If you look at the name of the players, you felt they would come back,” said Wenger, who agreed to loan Japanese youngster Ryo Miyaichi to Bolton this week.
“They have maybe been destabilised by the Gary Cahill case, but that is sorted out now. That might be a bit easier for them.”