Match Report: Bolton 1-3 Arsenal

Arsenal took on a tough Bolton side at the Reebok this afternoon looking to extend their points in the Premier League table.

Arsene Wenger left Robin van Persie and England ace Theo Walcott on the bench for the trip to the Reebok Stadium.

Nicklas Bendtner was handed a start to partner Emmanuel Adebayor up front and Emmanuel Eboue was restored to the line-up as Wenger made two changes to the side that drew with Dynamo Kiev.

Bolton Starting XI:

Steinsson – Shittu – A O’Brien – Samuel
J O’Brien – Smolarek – Muamba – Nolan – Gardner

Arsenal Starting XI:

Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy
Eboue – Fabregas – Song – Denilson
Adebayor – Bendtner

First Half

It was the homeside who kicked off at the Reebok which was surprisngly, basking in glorious sunshine.

A free-kick was won early on, as Megson’s team looked to use their threat upfront in Kevin Davies.

Arsenal won a succession of corners but failed to convert them, leaving Bolton open to chase them on the counter attack.

Unbelievably, it was the home side who took the lead when Kevin Davies met a Joey O’Brien corner to put Bolton 1-0 ahead in just the 13th minute – poor defending from Kolo Toure and once again Arsenal go behind at the Reebok.

Goal: Kevin Davies (14)

Arsenal bossed possession in the opening stages, but it was textbook Bolton for that goal: Davies simply rose highest in the box to nod in. At the other end, Denilson had a stab from 25 yards that screamed well wide.

However, Gunners were level just 12 minutes later as Emmanuel Eboue slipped the ball home after being set up by Bendtner, although there was a suspicion of offside about the goal.

Goal: Emmanuel Eboue (26)

And just a minute later Bendtner continued to justify his inclusion by firing the Gunners into the lead from Denilson’s cross from the left, a superb goal.

Goal: Nicklas Bendtner (28)

Bolton’s best hopes are from set pieces, and Andy O’Brien hoisted another one into the box that Arsenal manage to clear. But here’s the danger: Arsenal are super-slick on the counter attack, and this time Denilson tees up Eboue in the box, who dances through three or four Bolton “defenders” before his shot is charged down.

There was time enough in this half for Kevin Davies to pick up Bolton’s seventh yellow card of the season – and it might have been red. A poor challenge from the frontman which left a sour taste in the mouth as the half came to a close.

Second Half

Johan Djourou replaced Clichy at the break after Davies’ terrible challenge on the French fullback.

As the second half began, Arsenal continued from where they left off. Alex Song with a superb effort striking Jussi Jaaskelainen who just managed to tip it over.

Gary Megson’s side upped the anti on Wenger’s men and despite some earlier attacking prowess being stemmed, Bolton found some consistency within their passing.

Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor pulled back a ball for Denilson who was unable to get to it, but it was Bolton who were causing the Gunners’ defence plenty of menace in the second period.

Bacary Sagna cracked a shot well wide of the target as Arsenal started to form a solid attacking threat from the wings.

England sensation Theo Walcott entered the stage for Emmanuel Eboue who lost his feet in the second half after scoring the equaliser early on in the game.

Sagna was involved in a head to head collision with Kevin Davies, the Bolton striker frustrated manager Arsene Wenger who protested on the sidelines.

Walcott drove a low shot across goal after some good work from Alex Song and Denilson, while Bolton started to lose their defensive effiency which boded them well throughout the latter period.

Arsenal finally got the winner with less than 3 minutes to go. Theo Walcott went on an outstanding run cutting through several players before finding Adebayor. The frontman curled the ball across goal and Denilson finished with aplomb. A deserved 3 goal lead for Wenger’s troops.

Goal: Denilson (87)

The full time whistle went. Arsenal went top of the Premier League table with Chelsea and United set to battle it out tomorrow afternoon. If the Gunners’ continue like that, the title will be heading back to its rightful owners.

Player Ratings

Almunia: 7 – So solid, made a mistake who could have cost us the 2-2, but was excellent throughout.

Clichy: 6.5 – Only played a half, glad he’s okay after poor challenge.

Gallas and Toure: 7 – Great match from our back two who were not shy to come forward.

Sagna: 6.5 – Another very good performance from the Frenchman

Denilson: 6,5 – He’s finally getting used more and more to the side and he scored another important goal

Eboue: 7 – When will people stop criticising him? He played in an usual position today, yet delivered.

Fabregas: 6 – Much, much better than Wednesday but I believe he is to be rested next week. And what’s up with his hair? Leave hair experiments for the Serie A, Cesc.

Song: 6,5 – Contrary to Wednesday, played in a more midfield position but was still comfortable and not shy to come forward, when needed.

Adebayor: 8 – No goals but man of the match. What a great, unselfish performance from the Togo striker. This is what I want from him, great strength, outrunning opponents and helping the others to score.

Bendtner: 7 – An excellent first half, a quiet second, before coming off. I was disappointed to see him
and not Vela in the starting line-up but boy, did he prove me wrong or what?

Djourou: 5,5 – A little shy coming into the match, improved later on but you can see that he’s still one who needs to settle in.

Walcott: 7,5 – What else to say? He’s playing the football of his life and if properly used by Wenger – as we’ve seen so far – he can help us a lot this season.

Ramsey: NA – Too little to judge.


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