Report: Bolton 1-3 Arsenal
By Randy Osae
Wenger’s men forged another inspirational comeback at the Reebok stadium and collected a tough but well earned three points. The reward for that result was a return to the Premier League’s summit since March.
After the midweek’s exertions in Kyiv, Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie were rested with Nicklas Bendtner partnering Emmanuel Adebayor up front.
A high-paced opening minutes allowed both teams to find their strides. After an all-Arsenal spell, Bolton got their first corner kick of the match. And you guessed right – the Trotters took the lead from the set piece.
Kevin Davies jumped ahead of Kolo Toure and headed-in from 10 yards. Toure then shot just wide, as shades of last season’s woes in this fixture were appearing. Even worse, Arsenal hit the post twice in a range of a minute or so.
First, Adebayor’s poke off Bendtner’s through pass looked destined for the equalizer until it met the right post. Alex Song then headed against the wood-work from a corner. That corner-kick was a consequence of Danny Shittu blocking Bendtner’s goal-bound shot just after the Dane responded off Adebayor’s miss. It all looked like “one of those days” until Arsenal actually profited from real fortune.
Arsenal’s lead came in the same fashion that got them frustrated.
Emmanuel Eboue with Adebayor by his side coolly lashed onto another deft through ball from Bendtner. It was Eboue’s first Premier League goal (also first goal in two years) but replays suggested he was clearly offside when the ball was played. Usual victims of errors by match officials were rather gainers today.
Seconds after, a brilliant phase of play saw Arsenal take a 2-1 lead through Nicklas Bendtner. The striker tapped home from close range following Denilson’s fine assist from the left. But the half did end with a little sorrow after all as Gael Clichy couldn’t get back on his feet after a harsh tackle by Kevin Davies. Bolton’s striker was only booked.
Arsenal’s ever-present defender was replaced by Johan Djourou at the restart, and that meant a few reshuffles in the line-up with Sagna playing at left-back. Bolton showed much urgency in the second half, ruing the fact that they were behind after leading, and Arsenal paid with long spells of chase and attentiveness. Almunia who had denied Kevin Nolan an equalizer from long range just before half-time was made busy.
Bolton substitute Mustapha Riga was the main thorn of Arsenal’s defence.The Dutch Under-21 international’s pace kept Djourou in scrambles at right back, and Riga even went close with a low curler which looked goal-bound until Almunia stretched impressively.
With a killer goal still needed, Arsene Wenger threw in Theo Walcott for Bendtner to avoid risking any late agonizes. Manuel Almunia was Arsenal’s lifeline as Bolton pressed hard to level. The Arsenal stoppers’ dives to meet dangerous crosses and set up swift counter attacks with his long throws were very effective.
From a similar routine, Theo Walcott made a run from the center line, passed the ball to Adebayor on the right who sent in a triangular low cross to Denilson and the Brazilain finished with ease. That was it for the Gunners, and they had passed through this trend of away trips in a short period without a defeat and of course, satisfactory results.