Post-Match Report

Premiership: Arsenal 1-1 Bolton - Report

Arsenal 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers -

Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
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  Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers

A goal from Gilberto deep into injury time rescued Arsenal from defeat at Highbury on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger's side had been trailing to Kevin Nolan's goal since the 12th minute and, for the first hour, Bolton merited their advantage. But Arsenal threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the visitors in the final stages and deserved a point for their persistence alone.

They were rewarded in the 92nd minute when Francesc Fabregas crossed from the right and Gilberto steered his volley just beyond the grasp of Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Bolton keeper had done as much as anyone to deny Arsenal this afternoon.

It stopped Bolton registering their third win of the season against Arsenal and also prevented Wenger from suffering successive home defeats.

The race for the fourth and final Champions League spot could go down to the final game and this point could yet prove vital.

Wenger's squad continues to suffer from "feast or famine" syndrome. The absence of eight defenders - Ashley Cole (thigh), Sol Campbell (ankle) Gael Clichy (foot), Pascal Cygan (hamstring), Lauren (knee), Kerrea Gilbert (back), Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure (both African Nations Cup) - forced him to field the same back four who started at Birmingham. That meant midfielders Seb Larsson and Mathieu Flamini continued to occupy the full back positions.
It was different elsewhere. Wenger was only lacking Robin van Persie (toe) and Theo Walcott (shoulder) in midfield and attack combined. His abundance of options was illustrated by the presence of Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and Dennis Bergkamp on the bench.

However it was Bolton who could have scored twice with in the first two minutes. After 40 seconds, Matt Jansen burst down the left and sent cross deep into the Arsenal area. Nolan made firm connection at the far post and Jens Lehmann showed excellent reactions to tip the ball over the bar. Adebayor cleared the corner but the ball was returned immediately to the far post where Bruno N'Gotty was hiding. The Frenchman's header beat the keeper but bounced off the bar.

Arsenal responded energetically and had calls for a penalty waved away when Jose Antonio Reyes was brought down in the area.

However, Bolton are becoming the toughest competitors in the top flight and arguably deserved the lead they grabbed in the 12th minute. Senderos challenged Jansen just outside the area and the ball bounced up kindly for the unmarked Nolan. He lifted the ball over the helpless Lehmann and into the far corner. It was a body blow.

The goal instilled Arsenal with even greater urgency. But they still produced little of note. Midway through the half, Adebayor won the ball in the area and intended his cross for the head of Fabregas.  The Spaniard just failed to stretch his head to the ball.

A minute later, it could have been 2-0. Nolan again burst into the area and looked set to round the keeper before Johann Djourou dispossessed him with a perfectly timed tackle.

On the half-hour, Abdoulaye Faye clattered into Jose Antonio Reyes. The Spaniard went down clutching his lower leg and was stretchered off. Pires came off the bench.

The change did little to change the pattern of the game. Arsenal were industrious enough but not creative. Bolton were robust and lightning quick to capitalise on any ponderous play at the back.

And, of course, they had the goal.
Predictably, Wenger made his second substitution after the break - Ljungberg for Diaby. But within 20 seconds of the start, Joey O'Brien sent over a penetrative cross from the right and Stelios just failed to connect amidst the crowded penalty area.

Ten minutes later, a hefty hack clear from Senderos turned into a decent through ball for Adebayor to chase. As O'Brien dithered, the Togolese striker stole in. A heavy touch took him too wide to score himself but he fed the ball back for Pires who sent a shot fizzing over the bar from 25 yards.

The Frenchman came even closer to scoring in the 57th minute. His low free-kick from 25 yards looked like to might sneak in at the far post but Jussi Jaaskelainen thrust out his left hand at the last second to divert the ball wide for a corner. It was the first time the Finnish keeper had muddied his gloves all afternoon.

At least Arsenal were now creating opportunities. With 19 minutes left, Senderos and Adebayor had chances charged down in the Bolton six-yard box. Immediately afterwards, Wenger played his final card. He brought on Bergkamp for Larsson. Flamini switched to left back, Arsenal's eighth of the season, and Ljungberg dropped into defence on the other flank.

The change produced the desired effect. Henry flashed a long-range effort just wide and Pires stretched Jaaskelainen with a lofted cross-shot.

In the following few minutes, Fabregas and Djourou both tested the Bolton keeper as Arsenal poured on the pressure.

With five minutes to go, Gilberto piledriver was spilled by Jaaskelainen. Three minutes later, Henry miskicked from five yards with the goal at his mercy and in the final seconds of normal time, Adebayor just failed to connect with Ljungberg's long ball.

Highbury has just about given up hope by the time Gilberto steered home his volley. Henry even had a chance to win the game a minute later. His chip beat Jaaskelainen but Ricardo Gardner nodded the ball off the line.

Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 38193

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