By Chris Harris
If your highly-regarded manager leaves in the summer and your most prized striker leaves in the transfer window, it's probably worth bracing yourself for a less-than-vintage season. Bolton know that better than most.
The departure of Sam Allardyce prompted a drop to the bottom of the Premier League table under Sammy Lee and, although Gary Megson has given them a fighting chance of survival, Bolton are still mired in the relegation zone. The loss of Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea has hurt just as much - Bolton have scored just seven goals in 14 games since the Frenchman left.
Everyone knows that Arsenal need to win at the Reebok to reignite their fading title challenge but Bolton are perhaps even more desperate for points to climb out of the bottom three. At least the omens are good for the Trotters - they have won their last three home League games against Arsène Wenger's side.
We asked Gordon Sharrock of the Bolton Evening News for a Bolton perspective ahead of Saturday's game. Read on for his views on those high-profile departures, the progress made by Megson, Bolton's bad luck and why Arsenal should expect another physical challenge this weekend.
THE STORY SO FAR
"It is no surprise at all that Bolton have done poorly considering Sam Allardyce left last summer. He was always going to be a big act to follow in more ways than one. He left a big footprint on the club and on the town and it was always going to be difficult for anyone replacing him. Sammy Lee came in and there was a six-month period where Bolton were looking for stability but they didn't actually get it. It was a difficult time for Sammy with changes on and off the field. He went after just nine games into the season when Bolton were bottom with five points.
"Gary Megson won't argue that he wasn't the most popular choice but he had a lot to do, he had a lot to sort out when he arrived in October. Bolton were bottom and they were fighting an uphill battle even then. Gary got things well-organised and mounted a revival which took Bolton out of the bottom three."
"Any team in the country would have missed Nicolas Anelka, that goes without saying. Bolton felt they couldn't keep him beyond January, it was big money from Chelsea. The biggest gripe among Bolton fans is that they didn't get someone else in to replace him. Some fans were angry to see him sold but some fans understood it was impossible to keep Nicolas against his will. Those who accepted that Nicolas wanted to move to a Champions League club really wanted to see the money re-invested in the team because Nicolas was the one scoring all the goals. But Bolton didn't do that and of course the goals have dried up since."
CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM
"They can stay up. What I will say is that if Gary Megson and this team had been together from day one, Bolton would not be in the bottom three. I reckon they would be mid-table. That obviously isn't the case but Megson has brought in Gary Cahill - a very good signing - and the organisation which has been brought back to the side has made Bolton hard to beat. They had a good run when Megson came in which took them towards mid-table but they could never quite get there and leave the rest behind! Now they are in a dreadful run which has dragged them back into it. But I think it's a dreadful run of results rather than a dreadful run of performances."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"When you are in this situation things tend to conspire against you and Bolton have just lost Jussi Jaaskelainen for the rest of the season with a back injury although Ali Al-Habsi is a competent keeper. They've lost Ricardo Gardner at left-back, he busted a rib in the Manchester City game last weekend. And Kevin Nolan is suspended for two games. They are Bolton's three longest serving players and would have almost certainly have played. Arsenal might be encouraged by that."
"I don't think Arsenal can expect anything different from Bolton. This team plays similar to the way Bolton have always played with the same formation. There will still be the threat of Kevin Davies and he has upset Arsenal defences in the past. It's a style which has upset Arsène in the past and I don't think it will be any different on Saturday. Whether it is as effective this time remains to be seen, much depends on whether Arsenal are fired up to get their title challenge back on track."