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Match Report


Posted Wed 20 Jan 10 at 21:58 PM

Report: Arsenal 4 Bolton 2

Bolton fell to defeat at the Emirates after surrendering a two-goal advantage.

An early strike from Gary Cahill - his seventh goal of the season - and a penalty from Matt Taylor put Owen Coyle's side in a commanding position.

But a determined fight-back from an Arsenal side that knew three points could take them to the top of the Premier League table meant that Wanderers left North London with nothing to show for their efforts.

Tomas Rosicky levelled just before the break for the Gunners, who brought several smart saves out of Jussi Jaaskelainen in a breathtaking first half.

Cesc Fabregas scored a controversial equaliser as Mark Davies lay injured under a dubious William Gallas tackle before Thomas Vermaelen's half-volley gave Arsene Wenger's side the lead.

And with just five minutes remaining, Russian international Andrey Arshavin completed the scoring for the hosts.

With Cesc Fabregas playing such a pivotal role in the meeting between the two sides just three days earlier, Owen Coyle opted to shore things up in midfield by bringing Mark Davies into his side. Kevin Davies played as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.

Fabrice Muamba had previously excelled in man-marking roles against Steven Gerrard, so it was no surprise to see the former Gunner paired up against Fabregas right from the first whistle.

The home side were the first to offer attempts on goal, but when they did through shots outside the box from Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky, they were easily saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

However it was Wanderers who struck first as they gained an early initiative thanks to a goal on seven minutes through Gary Cahill.

When Gael Clichy skewed a clearance straight up in the air, Kevin Davies easily won his aerial with Thomas Vermaelen, nodding into the path of Cahill who lashed the ball past Alumina with his left foot.

The strike silenced the Emirates Stadium, aside from the pocket of Wanderers' fans who had admirably made the journey south for the second time in a fortnight.

But the early advantage was almost short-lived as twice Arsenal came close to equalising within minutes of the restart.

Firstly, Jaaskelainen produced a fantastic point-blank save to deny Fabregas when the Spaniard escaped the grasp of Muamba before Eduardo blazed just a yard over the bar following a swift counter attack.

Arshavin shot wide and Zat Knight made a crucial headed clearance as the home side sought a means of getting themselves back on level terms.

But despite Arsenal's period of concerted pressure on the Bolton goal, Matt Taylor almost made the score 2-0 with a trademark free-kick from just outside the box. It was only the agility of goalkeeper Almunia who denied the midfielder as he dived low to his right to palm the ball around the post.

But Taylor wasn't to be denied for much longer. After suffering frustration in front of goal in the first meeting, the number seven showed nerves of steel to double Bolton's advantage from the penalty spot with 27 minutes on the clock.

Chung-Yong Lee's trickery brought a foul from Denilson inside the area, and Taylor stepped up to slot his spot-kick in the bottom corner just out of the reach of Almunia.

A small selection of the Bolton fans rejoiced by removing their shirts and waving them above their heads.

All of Wanderers' outfield players were giving 110 percent and the same could be said of Jaaskelainen. Again the vastly experienced stopper came to the rescue, pouncing low on another Eduardo effort when the Croatian striker looked odds on to halve the deficit from ten yards. A sizzling Fabregas pass bisected the Wanderers defence but Eduardo was thwarted by the reflexes and anticipation of Jaaskelainen.

Kevin Davies nodded against his own crossbar moments before Arsenal did pull a goal back right on the stroke of half-time.

It was Rosicky who got the goal, beating Jaaskelainen at his near post from just inside the area after Diaby had seized possession midway inside the Bolton half.

And in first-half stoppage time, Jaaskelainen produced his third world-class save of the game to beat away a curling Fabregas attempt from 20 yards.

Mark Davies' energy offered an extra dimension in midfield and it was his dribbling skills that brought Bolton's first effort after the interval. After evading a number of tackles, the former Wolves man fell under a Denilson foul with Taylor whipping the resulting free-kick just over the bar.

But it proved to be Davies' last real involvement of the game as he was unfortunately injured in the build-up to Arsenal's equalising goal.

The midfielder crumbled under a William Gallas challenge and despite the calls of the Bolton players to stop proceedings, referee Alan Wiley allowed play to continue, with Fabregas inevitably scoring seconds after the incident.

The influential number four jinked past a couple of tackles before slotting through Jaaskelainen's legs from a tight angle. Play was held up for nearly five minutes in the aftermath as Davies received treatment before exiting on a stretcher.

Gavin McCann was brought on as a replacement with Cohen pushing further forward in midfield.

The Gunners turned the game completely on its head in the 64th minutes as Vermaelen gave the hosts the lead.

The defender's sixth goal of the season came via the help of the post as he converted Diaby's headed knock-down with a left-footed half volley.

Despite seeing their 2-0 lead reversed, Bolton heads didn't drop. After Ivan Klasnic was brought on with 10 minutes remaining Cohen headed over from close-range and Taylor fizzed an effort across goal.

But Andrey Arshavin sealed the points for Arsene Wenger's side in the 85th minute, striking past Jaaskelainen after wriggling past a challenge from Robinson.

The Russian had another opportunity to extend the lead in stoppage time but after embarking on a clean break through midfield, he could only fire straight at Jaaskelainen.

Arsenal: Almunia, Clichy, Vermaelen, Gallas, Sagna, Denilson, Fabregas, Diaby (Eastmond 76), Arshavin, Rosicky (Vela 87), Eduardo (Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Walcott, Silvestre, Traore, Emmanuel-Thomas)

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Robinson (Ricketts 90), Knight, Cahill, Steinsson, Muamba, Cohen, Mark Davies (McCann 50), Taylor, Chung-Yong, Kevin Davies (Subs: Al Habsi, Elmander, Samuel, O'Brien)

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