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Arsenal continued their winning run, bringing it to 3 on the trot now as we beat Bolton at the Grove. This was predicted to be a difficult game and that is how it turned out to be. The scoreline in the end was slightly flattering for Arsenal despite the numerous chances that were created. Cesc Fabregas was the star of the show as he created 2 goals and probably inadvertently created another.
Andrey Arshavin would not have looked back at his first half performance with much fondness. Thrice he was put through on goal but did not score from any of them. One on one against the young Bolton keeper, he should have done better than hitting straight at the keeper once and twice shooting wide.
He will have to thank Laurent Koscielny who opened his Arsenal accounts by sheer determination. He bundled the ball over the line to help Arsenal take the lead. He was flawless throughout the game and it was easy to see why his tackles won statistics is so high. Surprisingly, he was tasked to mark Kevin Davies and won most of the headers of the Englishman, something which not many can claim to be able to do.
Unfortunately for him, the only mistake he made enabled Bolton to equalise. Only Koscielny knows what he was trying to attempt with that header, as Manuel Almunia was put out of place with the pass and our defence failed to pick up Johan Elmander’s position inside the box. This, despite the fact that Elmander was surrounded by at least 3 Arsenal players. The goal came right at the end of the first half and I admit that I feared that it could be a big psychological blow for us.
Credit to the players, they came out firing in the second half. Fabregas wrested control in midfield and we took back the lead. First, he crossed from the left for Marouane Chamakh to finish an easy header. Later Fabregas’ perfectly weighted pass found Carlos Vela with acres of space and the Mexican’s composed finish was eerily reminiscent of Eduardo. The pick of the bunch was definitely Alex Song’s goal which was Arsenal’s third. The nutmeg on Zat Knight and the instinctive chip over the advancing Bolton keeper from an acute angle was very pleasing on the eye.
The third and fourth goal did come after Bolton went down to 10 men. Gary Cahill was sent off after kicking Chamakh into the touchline that broke an Arsenal breakaway. I do not know what the referee was doing. The straight red was very harsh when a yellow would have suffice. The foul was not even as malicious as the one Paul Robinson committed on Abou Diaby. How that foul was not worthy of even a yellow shows just how incompetent the referee was.
Did anyone else notice that by wearing all black, Almunia looked very much like Jens Lehman. Maybe that look gave him more confidence as the Spaniard was on top of his game. Even though we controlled most of the game, Bolton still managed to create a couple of chances but Almunia did not want to get beaten again. I hope the kitman throws away the other colours for the keeper and make sure that Almunia always wear black.
This was a very good win for us and even the débutant, Sebastien Squillaci had a solid game. With Fabregas back in the groove, we are looking increasingly better. The other blot on the game is the injury which Diaby suffered from the aforementioned challenge. Next up is Sporting Braga and Arsenal will confident going into that game.
Till tomorrow, thanks for reading.