Bolton Wanderers 1-3 Arsenal - Match report

Post-Match Report

Bolton Wanderers 1-3 Arsenal - Match report

Nicklas Bendtner... scored the second of three at the Reebok

Bolton Wanderers -

Reebok Stadium
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
  Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers
1 3

By Richard Clarke

Arsenal are top of the Premier League after coming from behind to beat Bolton 3-1 at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

Kevin Davies powered home a header after 14 minutes to put the hosts in front. But Arsenal responded by whipping up a tornado before the half-hour. They hit both posts almost immediately and then created another couple of clear chances.

Only after those gilt-edged opportunities did the visitors score twice in two minutes. Eboue fired home the opener, his first Premier League goal, in the 26th minute. Almost immediately a sweeping move ended with Nicklas Bendtner stabbing in a low cross from Denilson.

Manuel Almunia made a stunning save from Kevin Nolan just before the break and Bolton piled on the pressure in the second half. However Arsenal were organised and resilient. The keeper was always involved but, as the game went on, rarely overworked.

The visitors ended the argument three minutes from time when Denilson stroked home a low cross from Emmanuel Adebayor.

Of course, Arsenal may be top for less than 24 hours. Chelsea can overtake them on Sunday if they beat Manchester United. 

However this was a horrible-looking week for Wenger's men. And the Frenchman will be pretty happy with two Premier League wins and point away in the Champions League.

Before kick-off, the manager made two changes from the side that drew at Kyiv on Wednesday. Eboue replaced Theo Walcott and Bendtner came in for Robin van Persie. There was also a switch of formation. The European 4-5-1 was ditched for the usual domestic 4-4-2 with Eboue on the left and Denilson on the right.

The Reebok Stadium was bathed in late summer sunshine this afternoon. After Liverpool's draw with Stoke, it seemed the perfect setting for Arsenal to go top of the table. 

Bolton may not be quite the force they were under Sam Allardyce but they still present a particularly robust challenge at home. They started this afternoon's game with all the passion of old.

After a couple of minutes  Nolan tried his luck from distance and Almunia had to stretch back and tip the ball over the bar. Bolton were lively but Arsenal responded well, forcing a number of corners.

However the closest they came to taking the lead was when Adebayor drove into the area only to be denied  by an excellent sliding tackle from Andy O'Brien.

Bolton's up-and-unders were troubling the Arsenal defence. The tactic maybe scrappy but it is effective - and it won the corner from which they took the lead in the 14th minute.

Joey O'Brien swung the dead-ball over from the left and Davies rose above Kolo Toure to power a header in the far corner of the net. It was reminiscent of any number of goals Arsenal had conceded here in the last decade.

The visitors were now up against it. On the balance they did not deserve to be trailing but they were in no position to bemoan their luck. They just had to haul their travel-weary bodies back into the game.

And that they did.

In the 13 minutes that followed, Arsenal had six excellent opportunities to equalise. They took the final two.

First, Cesc Fabregas chipped a cross to the far post, Bendtner cleverly chested the ball down for Toure in space just outside the area. The Ivorian rather slashed at the opportunity and it flew a few feet wide.

Then Adebayor went clear and held off his marker to go one-on-one with Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat. His shot went past the keeper but bounced off the inside of the upright.

Bendtner then had a goal-bound shot blocked by Danny Shittu at close range and, following that, Song nodded against a post from a corner. It was breathless and luckless stuff.

But the goal had to come and it did. Fabregas and Bendtner combined for Eboue to escape on the left of the area. There was a suggestion of offside but the Ivorian was allowed to run on. He finished with a sweet low shot to the near post.

Arsenal had their tails up and that is dangerous for any side in the world. A minute later, another slick move saw Denilson go clear on the left flank. He sent over a low cross that was perfect for Bendtner to convert at the near post. 

It has been an incredible turnaround. 

Not surprisingly, the game fell into a lull after that. Eboue may have extended Arsenal's lead but, after cutting inside, his shot was deflected wide. 

Arsenal seemed relatively comfortable but three minutes from half-time Bolton nearly got on level terms.

Toure robbed Ricardo Gardener cleanly as the midfielder went through on Almunia. The home side retained possession and eventually Joey O'Brien laid the ball back for Nolan 12 yards out. The Bolton captain's shot was powerful and directed towards the top corner. Almunia pulled off a wonderful save.

The half ended on a low note for the visitors. In injury time, Davies went in heavily on Gael Clichy just in front of the bench. The striker was booked and the left back hobbled to the sidelines. 

He did not come out for the second half. Djourou came on as a replacement at right-back with Sagna switching across to the opposite flank to cover his injured compatriot.

In the opening seconds, Arsenal nearly made the game safe when Song unleashed a swerving cross shot towards the far corner. Jaaskelainen had to be at his best to turn the ball aside.

However Bolton were still battling and a couple of minutes later Almunia did well to stop Gardner's effort.

Just before the hour the Jamaican fizzed a low shot across the face of the area. Just after it, Almunia kicked away an inquisitive low cross from Gretar Steinsson. The home side were piling on the pressure.

Adebayor steered a header wide from Djourou's cross but mostly Arsenal were on the back foot. 

Still as the game went on Bolton could not keep the same intensity. They had chances in the final stages when Steinsson headed over from close range and substitute Ricardo Vaz Te trickled a shot at Almunia when he should have done better.

Four minutes from time, Arsenal finally killed the game. 

Walcott drove through the middle, Adebayor crossed from the right and Denilson swept home from close range. The Brazilian celebrated with a samba. 

Walcott might have added a fourth soon afterwards and Arsenal's travelling hoards were in fine voice at the end.

Their team had done them proud.

Referee: S Bennett
Attendance: 22694

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