x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bolton manager Coyle says Arsenal not out of title race

Nearly a week after losing their FA Cup semi-final game to Stoke City, the Wanderers are looking forward to beat Arsenal at home.

Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, has launched a strong defence of Arsene Wenger, his Arsenal counterpart, and believes the Gunners head to the Reebok Stadium today still very much in the title race.

Four draws from their last five games have hurt Arsenal's hopes of surpassing Manchester United and some supporters have expressed their frustration with Wenger as they near the end of what would be a sixth successive season without a trophy.

Said Coyle: "They're six points behind Manchester United with Manchester United still to play. Arsenal have shown before that they'll be in the mix and I've got no doubts they've got a fantastic chance of winning the league.

"If I wasn't a football manager and someone said who would you go and watch, I would watch Arsenal every week because I love the way they play and the quality of the players they have.

"Arsene Wenger is, always has been and always will be a truly outstanding manager, one of the best managers in world football."

Coyle has his own problems, though, namely trying to lift his side after their humiliating 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last Sunday.

The Scot has made no attempt to hide the pain and disappointment and he believes Arsenal's visit could be the tonic to revive his side.

"I don't want any of the supporters to think that after the game the players didn't think about the match or they weren't hurt or disappointed," he said. "Of course they were. It was a great opportunity but it's passed us by and we can't affect that now. What we can affect is what's to come. The target is the same as last year, to finish as high up the table as we can.

"As horrible as last Sunday was, I wished there was a game on the Monday. There wasn't and we've had to wait a week and now we have to make sure that when it comes about we're ready to go. I believe it's a very good game for us to play."

7pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 3 & 5