By Chris Harris
Bolton won the first FA Cup Final at the old Wembley; will they be the first team to lift the famous old trophy at the new Wembley?
Sam Allardyce's men will have to do it the hard way. Arsenal are blocking Bolton's path to Cup glory for the third successive season and, after a win apiece at the Reebok Stadium, Wanderers make their first trip to the Emirates this Sunday.
The form book suggests Arsenal will win - they have been flying while Bolton were thrashed at Middlesbrough last weekend. Then again, Arsenal were the form horse going into November's Premiership clash at the Reebok and Nicolas Anelka put his old club in their place with a timely brace.
We asked Gordon Sharrock of the Bolton Evening News for an insight into Arsenal's next opponents ahead of Sunday's Cup tie. Read on for his memories of Bolton at Highbury, the increasing influence of Anelka, Allardyce's tactics this weekend and that forgettable trip to the Riverside.
THE STORY SO FAR
"The crazy thing about Bolton is that they can have these terrific runs. When things aren't going well they don't just have a blip, but when they recover they do so spectacularly. They went through a pretty difficult spell and then won their last five games in 2006 which put them into serious Champions League contention. Sam got the Manager of the Month award and since then they have one point from their last nine in the league. Bolton won at Doncaster in the Cup but the gulf was massive even though they rested a number of players. You can perhaps excuse the defeat at Liverpool because it's always a hard place to go but what Sam could not excuse was the 0-0 draw against Manchester City at home and then the 5-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. It was really un-Bolton like. They lose games away but never heavily like that, it's normal one or two goals tops because they are so well organised. Defensively Bolton were all over the place that day and they just hope it was a one-off."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"Obviously Anelka has made a big difference to the team. He scored twice against Arsenal and those who criticise Bolton's style should look at players like him and Diouf and realise they have a bit of quality too. Before November's game there was a lot of talk about Arsenal learning that they had to be more physical, they were confident they could stand up to Bolton but they still lost 3-1 so that would suggest Bolton have more to them than physical strength. Anelka has done as well as you would expect of a quality player. Before the Arsenal game people said he was playing well for the team but you expect more from an £8million signing and he broke his Premierhip duck in that game with two sensational goals. Afterwards Sam was able to reflect and admitted that Anelka's lack of goals was getting to be a bit of a concern."
"Andranik Teymourian looked good at Doncaster but you have to measure it on the quality of the opposition. He shone in those circumstances but he is not a member of Sam's first XI or among the main fringe players. He's one for the future. The same goes for the two Slovakians they have bought - Lubomir Michalik and Zoltan Harsanyi. Michalik has the best chance of playing this season but it would probably be because of injuries or fixture congestion."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
There was a genuine belief before the Third-Round draw that this could be Bolton's year. Then they drew Arsenal in the Fourth Round! The entire club feels that as they won the first Cup Final at the old Wembley they could be fated to win the first Final at the new Wembley too. But this is a massive hurdle for Bolton."
"Sam would be delighted if he could get a draw and come back to the Reebok. He has said a win would be an "unbelievable" result, so that gives you an idea of what he might want to do at the Emirates. Sam would love to score first and hang on but if they don't score first he wants to deny Arsenal a goal. He doesn't want to be chasing the game at the Emirates, that's for sure. He will do his best to stop Arsenal playing and the formation will be the tried and trusted 4-3-3 when Bolton have the ball and 4-5-1 when they don't. Diouf is suspended, he's a big loss, and the only other players out are long-term absentess O'Brien and Fortune."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"It's very exciting to be going to the Emirates for the first time. Highbury had something special, not only because of all Arsenal's history there but Bolton's as well with the 1994 FA Cup replay win. That was a great night for us against George Graham's team. Obviously Bruce Rioch was at Bolton and he went on to manage Arsenal. I had always heard that Highbury was special and it lived up to expectations. You expect that wherever Arsenal moved to would be special and Sam has said it would be a great place to get a good result."
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