Arsenal: 4 Koscielny (24), Chamakh (58), Song (78), Vela (83)
Bolton: 1 Elmander (44)
Arsenal carved out a convincing win against Bolton as Wanderers were reduced to 10 men in the 2nd half.
I missed the first 15-20 minutes of the match but from what I have heard, Arsenal created most of the chances with Arshavin and Rosicky both getting close to scoring. Arshavin was setup by Rosicky with a splendid through ball, and he should have done better in a one-on-one situation. Then Rosicky himself took a chance but his shot was over the target. Bolton themselves found a chance to score when Kevin Davies shot on the turn was held by Almunia.
When I started to watch the match Arsenal were in control. They were passing the ball around well. Fabregas, Wilshere, Arshavin and Rosicky were involved in all the chances created and everything was going Arsenals way except they couldn’t find the net. It was Wilshere in the 24th minute who lobbed a terrific ball forward to find Fabregas on the far pole and his touch found Koscielny, after the ball rebounded from Bogdan, who rolled the ball over the line from a yard or two out, for his first goal in an Arsenal shirt.
Even though Arsenal were in control of the game, they were giving too many unnecessary chances to Bolton. Almunia made a good save to deny Bolton from equalizing in the 37th minute from a corner. At the other end Arsenal were missing chances after chances. In the 44th minute Bolton did find the goal through a Koscielny error, when his header back to Almunia was miscued and it fell to Lee Chun-Yong who lofted the ball for Elmander to head it in.
The 2nd half started evenly with both teams looking for the lead. It was Fabregas who found Chamakh with a lobbed pass; who controlled it to shoot, but the keeper was again victorious in the one-on-one, as he palmed the ball away to concede the corner. Minutes before Bolton had come close to scoring. The break came from this corner, the ball was not cleared properly and Fabregas again delivered a pinpoint pass to Chamakh who made no mistake to score from his head.
The talking point of the match followed soon as Gary Cahill was shown a straight red card for a late tackle on Chamakh from behind. Arshavin on the break passed the ball to Chamakh who back-heeled it into Arshavin path. Arshavin was through on goal; the referee, however, stopped the play and gave sending orders to Cahill to angry reactions from the Bolton bench. Minutes before this Kevin Davies had escaped a sending off on a rough challenge on Koscielny. A few moments later Paul Robinson also escaped a red for a horrible tackle on Diaby, later to be substituted.
Rosicky had a chance to seal off the game when he found plenty of space on the right but his shot was wide. However, the anxiety was released in the 78th minute when Song scored a superb goal from a very tight angle. Arshavin squared the ball for Song who dodged the defender and then chipped the ball passed the keeper. It was 1000th premier league goal for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger. From there on it was all Arsenal. The fourth goal was scored by substitute Vela seven minutes before time. It took 24 passes to build up to that goal with Fabregas delivering the final pass exquisitely for Vela to finish it off neatly. Eboue had a penalty call denied late on.
As for the match, Arsenal were patient today in their build up which was nice to see. They were not in any panic. It was a much improved performance by Arsenal from the Blackburn game. They had their game plan imposed on Bolton from start who were finding it hard to cope with the pace of Arsenal. Still Bolton were playing to their strengths and finding one or two odd balls to take a shot on goal. They were also using the aerial assault.Although Bolton have changed their style of play, still a few players, most notably Kevin Davies, were employing the rough-them-up tactics. Most of the challenges were bookable but no cards were shown. One thing they utilized to the best effect was the offside trap.
It was good to see Fabregas returning to his self again. His passing was superb today, be it the through balls over the lobbed ones, it was awesome to watch and almost every one of them deserved a goal. He himself went close to scoring twice in the first the half; both times the shots were saved by the keeper.
Arshavin was made to run today quite a lot. He should have had a hat trick, he twice side netted the ball and once the keeper denied him. It was evident today that he was working hard. One thing I have noticed is that he is developing the habit of Diaby i.e. Keeping the ball with him for too long and making things complicated. He needs to find a pass quick just like he did in the second half when he found Rosicky with a cross ball when Arsenal were leading by a goal. And he needs to be careful with the offside as he was caught many times today.
The new defensive partnership was solid. Squillaci was awesome and didn’t seem to do anything wrong. He was once under pressure in the 2nd half but recovered well and didn’t concede the possession. Koscielny was good in the air and won most of the battles even after his one mistake that led to a goal, but he also scored one.
The thing that concerns me is the manner in which the goal was conceded by Arsenal. A soft back pass that led to a stupid goal. We have the habit of passing the ball in our own danger area rather than clearing the ball towards the sideline or up field. Also that when a mistake is made, all the players panic. Almunia for me was not at fault for the goal; when the ball went to Lee, someone should have been tracking Elmander. There were three defenders and all of them went towards the goal line and none took notice of the Bolton player. It is goals like these that no one wants to see. The three goals conceded so far this season have all been defensive errors. Still we did manage to score more than the opposition and it’s a well earned three points.
As for the red card, that is debatable. I think the referee was led into the decision because of the earlier foul on Koscielny. Still it was a tackle from behind and it wasn’t that Chamakh was near the goal or something. Although Paul Robinson’s foul for me was a red. As for saying that it changed the game as a contest, it’s unfair. Even if Cahill had stayed on we would have got the three points and scored as many goals.
Now to player Ratings
Almunia: Not to be blamed for the goal. Wasn’t tested much still was confident with the long balls and made a good save in the first half. 6.5
Eboue: Didn’t have much defending to do. He was lively with the ball at his feet. Could have done better to create more. 6.5
Koscielny: At fault again for the 2nd game in a row. Though didn’t let any ball past him and he was on the score sheet. 7
Squillaci: Brilliant debut for him. Very solid performance. 7.5
Gibbs: Was good going forward. Wasn’t tested much at the back. Won’t blame him much for the goal as there were three other defenders there. The question remains that does he offer us more as compared to Clichy in terms of defence? 6.5
Song: Scored a super goal. Played better in the 2nd half in attacking role as compared to the defensive role in the first half. 7
Fabregas: Was slow to start but was involved in all the things created. His passing today was sublime and he is getting back to his form. 8.5
Wilshere: For me he was good today. His movement along with passing was quality. He needs to get strong though to hold his area more comfortably. 7
Rosicky: He was very much involved in every move in the first half. Didn’t create much in the 2nd. 7
Chamakh: Again an awesome performance by him. The way he held the ball and linked up the play was brilliant. Scored with a thumping header. 7.5
Arshavin: Missed chances, but it was there to see that he was working hard. Needs to release the ball quickly. 6.5
Diaby: Was on for very short time and then left injured. no rating
Vela: Came on and scored a neat goal in the limited time he had. 7
Denilson: Did his job wonderfully. Allowed Song to play in an attacking position. 6.5
So we have 10 points out of a possible 12 with two tricky away fixtures out of the way. Also we have notched up back-to-back wins against the two teams with whom we have dropped points in the past. The only grey area is the injuries and the manner of conceding goals. The good thing is we are improving with every match.
That’s it for now. Have your say on the match and ratings in the comments.
p.s. Man Utd, Man City and Tottenham have drawn their matches. Also Barcelona has lost their match. All in all a good day!