This season has been a fantastic one so far with 11 wins in a row in all competitions. During this run there have been two main types of performance; one of beauty and one of grit and determination. Each type of victory is equally satisfying but I think I am doing certain performances a disjustice. Beating Derby County by 5 goals was a brilliant performance but although we had to dig deep against West Ham, we were able to play some excellent football at times. My main point here is that we have been able to dig out results when it is needed, while being able to kill off teams with some wonderful football at the same time, something we could not do so well last season. The Bolton match was definitely a scrappy affair but in no way was it our fault. The way Bolton set up, the game was never going to be a free flowing encounter as they denied us any real room to play. We got the result once more and in the end we were comfortable but there were a few things that worried me and a few things that really pleased me. The negatives first.
Cesc Fabregas has been in scintillating form of late but yesterday it seemed he was wound up very easily. Having been booked Cesc made a challenge that could easily have led to his second yellow card and an early bath. The main problem was that he was not able to dictate the play. I hope this was not an example of what is to come when he is played out of the game. He seemed to lose his flow and was limited to flashes of brilliance. I know we expect so much from him but my qualm is not to do with his play but his temper. All players have games where they are not able to stamp their authority but it is how they deal with it. I dont mind Fabregas getting stuck into challenges but when it borders on the reckless side of things I see he still has growing up to do. I would much prefer he did the simple things while allowing his team mates to do the pressing. If a team looks to isolate Fabregas it will leave space for others and it is important Fabregas uses his movement and quick thinking to help the team.
My next worry is about Eduardo. He started well in his first games and got a few goals off the bench. He has not yet transformed his International form into his Arsenal form as yet and right now seems like he has a bit more work than expected to settle into the English League. I know he needs time but yesterday he was pushed off the ball too easily and seemed a little off the pace at times. I understand he is working back from injury and will get used to the pace with minutes on the pitch but our next games in the League are as big as they come and Edaurdo will have to be in top of his game if we are to get something out of this. I am sure Wenger was planning to go into these games with Van Persie alongside Adebayor but as this is no longer possible we have to trust Eduardo to come good. Hopefully Slavia Prague in midweek will act as a confidence booster!
On the subject of players back from injury I will go easy on Gallas. Yesterday he was clearly lacking in match fitness but worryingly he lost every header against Kevin Davies. I know Davies will win headers against most centre backs but I have always been worried about Toure and Gallas as a partnership. Neither is particularly good in the air and although they attack the ball well, when under intense aerial pressure we are never comfortable. Liverpool will definitely test us in this area and they will have to stand up and be counted. Manchester United will be a threat at corners but hopefully we will deal with that as we have done all season.
I feel like I’m dwelling on too many negatives considering we won the game but I felt there are always things that can be addressed. However I will now move onto the positives. Wenger made changes on 60 minutes and both the players introduced showed the depth in our squad. Rosicky is back from injury and in my opinion he is so important to our team, for many reasons. Him and Hleb have a great understanding and when they play together their link up play really springs us forward. He also takes pressure off Fabregas as the main playmaker. Fabregas likes to sit and dictate play whereas Rosicky is much more direct. He likes to drive with the ball and draws defenders, leaving space for Cesc to move into and weave his magic. I also mentioned Hleb in relation to Rosicky but I feel he deserves recognition for his own play. The ease with which he can dribble past players and get out of tight corners is so useful. He can make something happen in a split second and has looked a very different player this season compared to last. He has a bit more purpose in his play and has been far more consistent.
The other substitute finally showed what he can do on a regular basis. Theo Walcott has blown hot and cold with Arsenal but recently he has been more consistent. For the second game running he has come off the bench to change the game. His pace worried Bolton and the way he glided past defenders was brilliant to see. He wanted to get behind players, dribble passed them and was always looking to make a scoring chance. This was all perfectly shown with the second goal. His run was timed to perfection to get him in on goal. A great first touch was followed by calm footwork and a perfect cross for Rosicky to sweep home. He replaced the very poor Eboue and showed why he does deserve a start very soon. Wednesday would be a perfect match for him to show his credentials once more.
I know I have picked out small things in what is a great result. Bolton were once our ‘bogey’ team but we have won the last 3 encounters and seem to know how to beat such opposition now. It took a great strike from Toure before Walcott’s moment of magic to kill of Bolton. However we kept going and never changed the way we played. We didn’t look too uncomfortable at the back as Davies had noone to head the ball down to. Liverpool and Manchester United will be a far different prospect and I for one cannot wait for next Sunday. However one game at a time and 3 points in midweek will almost guarantee our place in the knockout phase of the Champions League.