Twenty three thousand fans were lucky enough to witness twenty minutes of the most sublime Arsenal football played since that game in Italy against AC Milan. During that spell, Arsenal completed 132 passes to Bolton’s 19 as they were forced to chase shadows. Arsenal replied with two goals to the earlier Bolton set piece header which was against the run of play.
Right from the kick off, Arsenal declared their intention to play the beautiful game. Bolton resorted to counter attacking with a boring long ball over the top, it was clear that given the 75% of Arsenal possession the only opportunity to score would come from a set piece.
So it was somewhat predictably the Arsenal defence allowed Kevin Davies to head in a corner in the 14th minute.
Bolton 1 Arsenal 0 (14’ Davies)
Arsenal were stung into action and Gary Megson’s players were left regretting having taken the lead, for the next twenty minutes, wave after wave of red and white shirts surged into the Bolton box. Adbayor had a shot which ricocheted off the post, Song had a header from a corner hit the upright and just when it seemed that Bolton would survive the onslaught, another beautiful Arsenal passing movement was rounded off by a diagonal ball finding Eboue offside, who gratefully scored his first Premier league goal for the club.
Bolton 1 Arsenal 1 (26’ Eboue)
Ninety seconds later another tidal wave of red and white possession saw finally Adebayor pass out wide to Denilson whose drove the ball into the near post which met Bendtner’s excellently timed run and saw him stab the ball past the keeper.
Bolton 1 Arsenal 2 (27’Bendtner)
Bolton now looked as if they would concede with every Arsenal attack and as the half drew to a close, Bolton were left to attack on the counter, but despite the lack of things to do, the Arsenal goal keeper remained alert and with a superb save, Manuel Almunia dived to his right to parry a goal bound shot from midfield, which would have seen Bolton draw level.
Bolton’s Kevin Davies followed through on Gael Clichy, in a nasty tackle that could have ruptured the players cruciate ligament. Davies received only a yellow card from Steve Bennett the referee, when arguably a red card might have been appropriate because of the reckless nature of the tackle which incensed the Arsenal players. News is still awaited of the injury as the Frenchman left the field of play to go to hospital at half time.
Half time: Bolton 1 Arsenal 2
The second half saw Johan Djourou come on as left back and Sagna shift to the right full back position. The game had lost the urgency and Bolton managed long spells of possession. The Bolton fans set about a fifteen minute “Portsmouth” like chant with rhythmic drum beats, and the team rose to the support. No real chances fell to the team in white, and again they were left to look most dangerous at set pieces. Arsenal’s midweek exertions had seemed to get the better of them as their tempo dropped and the passes began to go astray.
On 73 minutes Theo Walcott entered the fray and it was not long before he imposed himself on the game with his fresh legs, injecting the much needed pace into the Arsenal attacks. Bolton had the majority of possession with the occasional shaky moment for Djourou as Bolton threatened to equalise after a probing run down the flank by Gardner. Almunia was up to the challenge, and despite flapping the ball feebly away from the cross, he managed to gather the shot from midfield safely.
Theo Walcott showed exceptional pace in a run through the heart of midfield which tore apart the Bolton defence, he passed to out to the right wide channel which Adebayor sensibly took the ball close to the by-line and put a low firm ball across the box to meet Denilson at the far post, who side footed the ball back into the roof of the net. Game over, job done, Have some of that you Trotters!
Bolton 1 Arsenal 3 (87’ Denilson)
For some reason Fabregas got booked in the ensuing goal celebrations but who cares? We are now top of the league with Liverpool dropping two points at home to Stoke City. With Chelsea and ManU to play tomorrow, we have some twelve hours to enjoy that treasured number one slot. Now we have reason to believe, because for twenty sublime minutes of the first half, Arsenal showed the kind of football that would beat any team on the planet!
Ooh to be a Gooner!
Full time Bolton 1 Arsenal 3
Fabregas the King.
Team: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Clichy 47’, Song, Fabregas, Eboue 85’, Denilson, Bendtner 73’, Adebayor. Subs: Djourou 47’ Walcott 73’ Ramsey 85’
Yellow cards Song, Fabregas
Referee. Steve Bennett.