Arsenal 3-0 Bolton: Analysis & Video Highlights From The Emirates
Match report from Arsenal 3-0 win over Bolton at the Emirates today. Robin van Persie bagged a brace and Alex Song also scored. Watch the goals as well here….
Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Gervinho Van Persie (C) and Walcott lined up in a near full strength side to attempt to stem the tide of negativity that has been washing over Arsenal and return to winning ways against Bolton, who were without their much-coveted defender Gary Cahill through sickness. The visitors played Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Wheater, Knight (C), Steinsson, Petrov, Pratley, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Eagles and Ngog after a great midweek win against Villa in the Carling Cup in front of a less-than-packed Emirates.
A clash of heads between David Ngog and Laurent Koscielny right at the off led to a long stoppage and a Bolton free-kick 45 yards out. Wheater won the first header knocking it back across goal where Pratley acrobatically volleyed it at goal forcing a fantastic save from Szczesny – this was definitely not the chance Arsenal wanted to concede in the opening minutes. From early doors it was clear that the visitors in their black away strip would be aerial and physical in their approach to the match and Gervinho’s unlucky handball gave Bolton an identical free-kick to their first. Eagles knocked it in and Martin Petrov dinked it back across goal where mercifully it didn’t get a killer touch and it rolled out for a goal kick. Arsenal quickly played it to the creative spark Arteta who put Gervinho through, only for the Ivorian to take too heavy a touch.
After Walcott baited a 30-yard free-kick for the Gunners in the 9th minute Van Persie (surprisingly) hit the target with his effort but Mark Clattenburg saw pushing and forced a retake, angering the Bolton keeper who had collected it easily. The follow-up was laid off by Arteta for his captain and the Dutchman steered it just wide; Arsenal would find this was a game of few opportunities and this was a good one. The Gunners played the next ten minutes entirely in the Bolton half but the Trotters were happy to contain them and force Arsenal to look for the penetrative ball or long ball that didn’t come thus far. When Ngog went down off the ball as in the aftermath of his earlier head injury Kevin Davies came on in the 20th minute, the man who is frequently the bane of the North London team and you sensed a gearshift from the Trotters: i.e. more fouls ensued and they played more negatively. Bolton were still a threat however, as a pacey counter-attack in the 25th minute demonstrated before Ramsey cleared Davies’ cross.
The crowd was beginning to get irritable around now as Arsenal definitely lacked the urgency and spark which blighted their home form in the latter part of last season – Ramsey was nowhere to be found in midfield and our wingers lacked a cutting edge. In the 30th minute Arsenal looked to be in the ascendancy but the fact that passing duty was left to our weakest ball player Alex Song meant the attack fizzled out; Aaron Ramsey was still nowhere to be seen. Gervinho worked a good chance in the 34th minute when he turned Steinsson and blazed over and this was followed up with a Davis-esque charge through the midfield by Mikel Arteta but the desperately quiet Van Persie failed to capitalise on it. Bolton’s negativity was emphasised when a deflected effort from Walcott led to a Koscielny overhead kick going wide from 12 yards out – our centre backs could literally stroll into their box. Bolton were so open in midfield and yet we failed time and time again to capitalise on this leading up to the break but Arsenal attacked relentlessly without an end result. Resolute defending from the Trotters meant that it was 0-0 at the break.
Just 38 seconds into the second half Ramsey gave the ball into Van Persie’s feet and from a terrible position with his back to goal he pulled left to the tightest of angles and beat Jaaskelainen at his near post – the Finnish keeper would have been gutted to let it in; to rub salt into the Bolton wounds, Steinsson was booked for taking Gervinho out during the attack. Suddenly, Arsenal were playing like they should have in the first half, with Arteta and Ramsey orchestrating attacks from high in the midfield; the Trotters realised that they couldn’t sit back any more as well and the goal changed the game completely. Things got worse for Bolton when Ramsey’s though ball to Walcott was interrupted when David Wheater, arguably Bolton’s best player so far, tugged the England winger and received a straight red for his infringement while Arteta and Van Persie deliberated over a 25 yard free-kick before the Dutchman fired it too close to the Bolton keeper after 55 minutes, prompting Bolton to bring on Boyata for Muamba.
Things got a bit heated in true Arsenal/Bolton style after a number of good chances for Boton in the form of Chris Eagles and Darren Pratley resulting in several minutes lost after handbags between van Persie and Zat Knight which fizzled out with no bookings. Jussi Jaaskelainen may have been guilty of conceding the soft goal but he notched up many, many saves as Arsenal rained down attacks on his goal with Walcott tucking in as an extra attacking midfielder and tormenting the 10-man Trotters. Coyle’s attempts to shore-up his midfield was unsuccessful with Davies replacing Eagles in the 71st minute. It was end-to-end stuff as both sides looked more and more leggy and finally Arsenal’s conditioning showed as Walcott rinsed his marker Robinson and teed Van Persie with a low near post cross which he elegantly flicked in to secure his 100th goal for the club in the 72nd minute (this was his 20th goal in 23 games). Theo had a great chance to sew the game up six minutes later with a one-on-one but squandered the chance just before Gervinho came off in the 78th minute for Andrey Arshavin and Rosicky replaced Arteta three minutes after this.
Arsenal were more than confortable by now and had killed the game off – Van Persie’s captain’s shift was rewarded by a standing ovation when he came off for Marouane Chamakh with five minutes left to play against the demoralised opponents who were one man down. Total football was the name of the game as Sagna, Ramsey, Walcott and Song linked up before the Cameroonian stuck it in the back of the net from 12 yards out to make it 3-0 and alleviate some of Arsenal’s woeful goal difference. The game was marred by a hamstring injury to Theo Walcott with minutes left to play after he had put in one of his best performances this year.
After all was done we can reflect well on what was a decent Arsenal showing – although the first half was frustrating as anything you’ll see from the Gunners the way we came out for the second half raring to go was really refreshing after our conceited performance against Blackburn where we sat back and were punished. What shouldn’t be overlooked (but probably will in lieu of #RVP100) is how Mertesacker totally pocketed Kevin Davies who has embarrassed us in the past. Lets now look forward to Olympiacos on Wednesday for the first home fixture of the Champions League group stage with confidence and optimism.
Watch highlights of Arsenal 3-0 Bolton
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