A dream start for Coyle at Bolton?
Owen Coyle takes charge of Bolton for the first time as his side host high-flying Arsenal at the Reebok Stadium. Coyle's departure from Burnley certainly raised controversy but the enthusiastic Scot will be keen to show why he made the move at the earliest opportunity.
Coyle did a fantastic job at Burnley and many questioned the wisdom in him jumping ship to Bolton but I think the Trotters could well dish out a bout of "new manager syndrome" to Arsenal.
Bolton are a big looking 5/1 to win the match. However, my bet will be on the draw at 3/1. Arsenal, despite all their talent, are just too short at 8/15 to consider backing.
For extra security the double chance has to come into the reckoning at a fantastic looking 6/4 for either a Bolton win or a draw.
The reasons for this are the Coyle factor, the fact that Arsenal were lucky to escape with a draw in their last match against Everton plus I think the absence of midfield destroyer Alex Song will be keenly felt.
For trips to places like Bolton you need a physicality in your team and Arsenal notoriously aren't a physical side at the best of times, but when Song is not in the team they lack bite in the middle of the park.
In more positive news for the Gunners they will welcome back captain Cesc Fabregas from injury, but without Song there to protect the back four the Spaniard might not get as much licence to get forward. This would negate the impact that Fabregas could have on the game, but Arsene Wenger is likely to be left with little alternative as both Denilson and Aaron Ramsey are injured.
Arsenal's matches generally guarantee goals as a result of their free flowing football and defensive vulnerability. In just four of Arsenal's Premier League matches this season have there been less than 2.5 goals, therefore the bet has to be over 2.5 at 7/10.
I also think that both teams will get on the scoresheet (4/5) as Bolton have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 league matches at home plus Arsenal haven't had one in their last 10 away matches.
It will be interesting to see what starting XI Coyle picks, but one man who you would have thought will be in the side is Kevin Davies. The hard working striker should be Coyle's type of player and I like the look of the 8/1 about him opening the scoring.
If Bolton do score the first of the game Wenger will have to hope his young side stay together mentally as otherwise in front of an intimidating crowd the Gunners could sink allowing Bolton to go on and claim a shock win.
However, this shouldn't happen as Arsenal have shown signs of maturity this season as, against all expectations, they have kept themselves in the title race. Following wins for Chelsea and Man Utd on Saturday the North London side need the points to remain in touch with the top two, but I think it will be a disappointing day for Arsenal in the North West as Coyle starts life in charge at the Reebok with a great result.