The way I see it - Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal

Last updated : 14 January 2005 By Jason Hogan

Thanks to the generosity of a certain gentleman (he knows who he is) I managed to obtain a couple of tickets for Sunday's game, one of which I passed on to Eamon who happens to be the brother of my mate Gazza.

By the time I found my seat in the North Bank I was surprised to discover that our new boy Emmanuel Eboue had been thrown straight into the starting line up. I have to say that he does look a dead ringer for Lilian Thuram and on the evidence of what I saw on Sunday, he could become a very useful acquisition. The boy certainly has pace and he doesn't need any invitation to bomb forward. I like his attitude because it's positive and you can never have enough players with an attitude like that.

Gael Clichy is another young man that comes into that category for me. I thought that he was perhaps the most accomplished defender we had on the afternoon. And, contrary to the opinion of some Gooners, I thought that young Jermaine Pennant did a good job down the right hand side. It was refreshing to see someone who was willing to try and get crosses into the box for a change and I thought he worked very well in tandem with Eboue.

As for the game as a whole well it wasn't as hairy an experience as the press and media made it out to be. I'm not saying that we had it easy against the Potters because we didn't. Stoke did have their moments. They took the lead, had a goal disallowed, hit the bar and had an effort cleared off the line but those incidents were very much isolated ones within the context of the whole game.

I thought that The Gunners controlled the game for long periods though we didn't find a true cutting edge until the second half.

Funnily enough, because I was too busy jabbering away to Eamon and some fellow Gooners deep in the bowels of the North Bank, I actually missed Jose banging in our equaliser and with the roar of the crowd I dashed back to my seat just in time to see a replay on his strike on the Jumbotron. I was impressed considering that he had struck his volley with his right foot rather than his favoured left.

From that moment onwards, save for a couple of iffy moments, we always looked the likelier side to get a winner and when it came it definitely was worth waiting for. Some people said that Van Persie was a bit lucky but I had the perfect view of what happened and take it from me the manner in which Van Persie finished from Pennant's cross was very clever indeed. He didn't really have the right to get to the cross first but he cleverly managed to get his foot in front of his marker and just used the pace of the cross to deflect the ball past the Stoke keeper.

It was the sort of strike that Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (former Bayern Munich and Germany striker) had a knack of producing in his heyday in the mid to late eighties. I tell you what, if Van Persie proves to have half the predatory instincts he had, then his career will definitely be a glittering one.

Our reward for getting past Stoke is another home tie this time against Wolves but next up for us is a trip to the Reebok on Saturday where we will face Bolton.

Everybody knows by now that Sam Allardyce is not exactly my favourite person but he certainly isn't the kind of guy to do things by halves. For example, I was positively gobsmacked when I heard the other day that he was putting Henrik Pedersen up for sale.

I shouldn't need to tell any of you what this boy is capable of as he has demonstrated his abilities against us more than once but if you catch my drift, there is making someone expendable and then making someone expendable.

Alllardyce has said that he needs to raise cash in order to fund any buys in the transfer window but why he is prepared to sacrifice Pedersen (who is actually Bolton's top scorer) in the process is quite beyond me. I can't see him getting more than £3 million at the absolute most for him. It's not exactly a huge war chest, is it? Who on earth is he going to bring in to strengthen his team and to do a better job than Pedersen has for that kind of money, at this time of year? I know that I can't work that one out but hey, what do I know?

What is far easier to fathom is the fact the Bolton, having had a pretty bad spell just before Christmas, are now embarking on a mini revival. They won last time out in the league against a resurgent Birmingham at St Andrew's and followed that up with perhaps an even better victory in the Cup over Ipswich (who are going great guns in the Championship and are no mugs) at Portman Road.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Pedersen was the star of the show against the Tractor Boys but he was aided and abetted by El-Hadji Diouf of all people. When it comes to dishing out cheap shots, being spiteful and downright obnoxious, this lad almost makes the likes of Rooney and Alan Smith look like choirboys and I think that he seriously lucky to still even be playing football in this country.

However I have to give the boy credit because since he has been at Bolton he has at least shown glimpses here and there of the talent that prompted Liverpool to shell out a whopping £10 million on him two and a half years ago.

When we played this lot back in September I earmarked Kevin Davies, Kevin Nolan as well as Pedersen as players to watch and I don't see any reason to change my view now but what we must guard against above everything else is their threat in the air.

The kindest way in which I can describe the way Bolton play football is to say that it's not exactly rocket science. We allowed ourselves to get bogged down by their style at Highbury and ultimately, we were punished severely for our inept approach to dealing with set pieces.

There is little doubt that this lot are very much a bogey side for us but I also believe that we are well due a result over this lot. I have nothing against Bolton as a club but I would really love to see us take Allardyce down a peg or two.

The man is a hypocrite who effectively uses a football equivalent of the race card at every opportunity. He loves to go around claiming that Bolton are a small club that are forever being hard done by against big clubs because it's only big players at big clubs that intimidate referees. Yet, whenever it suits him, he is not shy about laying guilt trips on referees through the press particularly on the eve of big games. What's that if it's not designed to intimidate referees? Foreplay?

I'm really looking forward to this game. As I said, a result over this lot is well overdue. I really hope that my wait will be over come Saturday night.