Arsenal moved on to the fifth round of the Carling Cup with a 2-1 home win over Bolton Wanderers this evening at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal couldn't find the net in the first half as they looked at a number of chances and decided that they weren't cool enough to score before Bolton started the second half with a goal by former Gunner Fabrice Muamba, combining with Darren Pratley. It would only take nine minutes for the home side to turn things around completely, though, goals from Arshavin and Park (hey, look; he does exist, and hey, look; his international form is no Lebanon-fueled illusion!) putting Arsenal in front for good.
The lineup at the start for Arsenal contained a couple of surprises: Nico Yennaris was in at right back, his first senior appearance, and Andrei Arshavin finally--FINALLY--was put in his natural position behind the striker, Park Ju Young. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a half opportunity early on, but ended up swinging out wide rather than rifling a shot in, and his cross was too deep for Park. Park, soon after, let fly from 25, testing Adam Bogdan, who pushed the ball away.
Arsenal continued to have the better of the opening half hour, Yossi Benayoun curling an effort wide of the far post from the left. Ricardo Gardner tripped up Chamberlain in the rain, and from the resulting free kick, Arshavin left it for Thomas Vermaelen, whose shot went about 150 miles per hour towards the low corner. Bogdan, again, though, was up to it, pushing it around the post. Park's tricky effort from 12 was saved, and halftime arrived with no score.
It wouldn't last much past the restart, though.
Emmanuel Frimpong lost the ball near Arsenal's area, and Muamba laid the ball off to Pratley moving up the left. Sebastien Squllaci was backing off, and Muamba stopped his run short, waiting for the cutback, and when it came, he made no mistake. 1-0 to Bolton, the home crowd silent.
They'd only have to wait six minutes, though, for things to level up again. Benayoun picked up a ball over the top on the right, passed it inside to Arshavin, and the Russian ran straight at the Bolton defense. His deceptively powerful shot, so quick on the draw, went between Zat Knight's legs and into the far corner. He looked very good in his new role, and the goal was no less than he deserved. In the celebration, he gave instructions to Coquelin, too, rather than celebrating, which is an encouraging sign of leadership from a man often accused of not caring too much.
Arsenal had regained control, and three minutes later, their South Korean international scored a goal straight out of the Thierry Henry handbook. If Park was Thierry, Arshavin filled in in the Dennis Bergkamp role, waiting and waiting for Park to check his run. Park slyly peeled off the last defender, who lost him entirely, and Arshavin put it where Park could hit it first time. Hit it he did, curled expertly off the far post and in. As good a combination goal as you will see, and all Arsenal would need on the night.
The introduction of Chris Eagles nearly made a big difference for Bolton, his first effort swerving and causing Fabianski all kinds of issues. Ryo Miyaichi and Oguzhan Ozyakup came on for Arsenal, before Fabianski saved from Ivan Klasnic as ninety minutes approached. Gary Cahill nearly scored from a header at the far post from a corner, but Fabianski did enough. Daniel Boateng entered the fray for Arsenal, getting his senior team debut as well. Klasnic nearly scored once more from Klasnic's cross, but skied his shot under pressure. Cahill had a chance, but Miyaichi did excellent work to get in a great challenge on the shot at the last moment (if he can defend that well, he's automatically my favorite player) (<3 Ryo). The final whistle arrived soon thereafter, and Arsenal had moved on to the quarterfinals.