Arsenal 4 - 1 Bolton: match report

The grey (?) -haired wonder. Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images.

Koscielny 24'
Chamakh 58'
Song 78'
Vela 83'

--------------------------

Elmander 44'

Arsenal beat Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanderers side 4-1 today, scoring their 998th, 999th, 1000th, and 1001st, and 1002nd Premier League goals under Arsène Wenger.

Arsenal started off pretty brightly, Tomas Rosicky playing a forty yard through ball to Andrei Arshavin after four minutes, the Russian's shot smartly saved by Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.

Bolton gradually came into the game over the next ten minutes, pressuring the Arsenal ball carrier with two or three players, often forcing turnovers in Arsenal's half.  They won a number of corners, one of which nearly resulted in a goal after a bit of a tempest in Arsenal's area, Almunia saving well from an Elmander shot.  It was to be Bolton's best chance for the next half an hour.

Arsenal, however, were to reassert control shortly.  The breakthrough came in the 24th minuteafter an Arsenal corner was cleared, Jack Wilshere sending a delicately floated deep cross towards the far post where Cesc Fabregas waited.  He looked set to volley it in, but his touch instead fell to Laurent Koscielny, who bundled the ball over the line for Arsenal's opener and his first goal as a Gunner (congratulations to the Frenchman).  Fabregas' intent cannot be known, but he will not mind, his first assist putting his team up 1-0.

Arsenal continued to create chances, Rosicky and Fabregas placing through balls behind the Bolton line for Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh to run onto for the next twenty minutes.  But the 1-0 lead was not to survive until halftime.  Bolton managed to equalize, Kevin Davies heading a goal kick generally towards the Arsenal box.

Koscielny attempted to head back to Almunia but didn't supply enough power, misdirecting the ball into the path of the onrushing Lee Chong-yong, who got to the byeline before sending a cross over for Johan Elmander to head home.  Halftime arrived shortly thereafter, 1-1 the score, with Arsenal having dominated play in the first half.

The second half began and Arsenal came out to dominate again.  Marouane Chamakh forced a good save from Bogdan with a low rasping drive after being put through on goal, and a minute later, he provided the match winner.  Fabregas crossed from the byeline following a corner kick, and the Moroccan rose unchallenged to head the ball in.  It was Fabregas' second assist on the day.

Arsenal continued to control the play, and Gary Cahill lunged in two-footed from behind on Chamakh in the 63rd minute.  Some will feel it was harsh, but referee Stuart Atwell did not hesitate to show the England defender a straight red.  Bolton were down a goal and a man, and Arsenal pressed their advantage.  Paul Robinson caught Abou Diaby with a high tackle four minutes later, the Frenchman having only just come on for Wilshere but now forced to come off for Denilson.

A third goal would come ten minutes later, Song working a one-two in the box, his first touch putting the ball past Zat Knight, his second chipping the ball over Bogdan to trickle over the line.

Bolton were desperate now, but their fate was sealed a few minutes later, Fabregas providing his third assist of the day with a delightful lobbed pass over the top for Carlos Vela to run onto and sidefoot home.

4-1, three points in the bag, and a good addition to the increasingly important goal difference number (Arsenal's stands at +10, Chelseas at +16 after their 3-1 victory over West Ham today).  Arsenal sit in second place on 10 points, two behind the Blues, who have been perfect so far.

Fabregas will be pleased with his performance today after a sub-par showing by his standards vs. Blackburn two weeks ago.  Here is a diagram of his passes on the day, as well as a look at the buildup (24 passes!) to Vela's goal:

 by Guardian Chalkboards

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