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Premier League's best youngsters are English

Tactics and Analysis 6 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 14, 2007

Big Sam and Bolton dreaming of Wembley

Sam Allardyce is expecting Arsene Wenger's Gunners to come out firing at full force as they look to end their wretched run at the Reebok Stadium tonight.

Arsenal have lost on their last three visits to Bolton, including in the Premiership this season, and know a fourth successive reverse will send them bouncing out of the FA Cup in a fourth-round replay.

Allardyce is convinced Wenger will be doing everything in his power to avoid such a setback, which is why he feels Bolton will be facing a full-strength Arsenal line-up.

'Arsenal have always been lovers of the FA Cup and one of the front-runners in terms of getting to the final, so I think they will want to beat us - and beat us with their best team,' said Allardyce.

'We have had some mighty battles against them in recent seasons, and I hope we will come out on top - otherwise the dream of playing at the 'new' Wembley will have gone.'

It is the fourth time in as many seasons Bolton have met Arsenal in the FA Cup - with the score currently standing at one win each and one drawn encounter, at the Emirates Stadium last month when Allardyce's men were the better side but found themselves eventually pegged back by Kolo Toure's goal 12 minutes from time.

In theory at least, Bolton's formidable home record against the north London giants should make them favourites to progress.

However, Allardyce is refusing to allow the past to cloud his thoughts.

'I hope Arsenal don't fancy it,' he said.

'It would be nice if they felt they had a problem here. It would be a psychological point in our favour.

'But I feel less and less they accept it is the case.

'The last time they came here, we were lucky to beat them - and we will need to be on top form, get a bit of good luck and the right decisions at the right time to win.'

Bolton have not been helped by the loss of Kevin Davies and Abdoulaye Faye, who has been ruled out for a fortnight after having an abscess removed.

Abdoulaye Meite and Gary Speed are both doubts after picking up a calf injury and a dead leg respectively in Sunday's win over Fulham.

'It is a bit frustrating, because I would have liked to have had the opportunity to work with the team and give them a little refresher in terms of what we should be doing,' said Allardyce.

'Unfortunately, that has not been the case. We have not been able to do any contact training, because we were too worried about picking up any more injuries.'