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Bolton 2-1 Arsenal: Predictably from set pieces

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He's been doing this a lot, hasn't he?
He's been doing this a lot, hasn't he?


Sturridge 38'
van Persie 48'
Cohen 90'

Arsenal finally ended their title chances by losing to Bolton 2-1. Despite a 62% of possession, they didn't create enough chances and were sucker punched by two Bolton set pieces. If anything, this game was typical of how Arsenal have performed over the last few weeks, except for the fact that they lost and scored. Despite all the possession, it was fairly easy for Bolton to defend, and for the few times Arsenal did get through, the goalkeeper saved them. Arsenal have conceded 56% of their goals from set pieces (via Orbinho), and looking at the defending on the two goals, you can see why. Yes, it may have been a perfectly executed corner on the second goal, but Tamir Cohen should never win the ball ahead of Johan Djourou.

Arsenal started brightly, and Theo Walcott could've had a penalty before he shot at Jussi Jääskeläinen, who spilled the shot, but unluckily for Arsenal, it evaded Robin van Persie. Bolton, however, began to gradually win control of the midfield. Daniel Sturridge and Kevin Davies both dropped off to ensure that Bolton weren't outnumbered in the midfield and they played long passes, taking advantage of the fullback being higher up, especially Gael Clichy. Daniel Sturridge's movement meant he was often unmarked, and from his pass, Lee won the corner that saw Bolton take the lead. 

 by Guardian Chalkboards

Bolton got a dubious penalty to start the half when Sturridge got past Djourou and went down on slight contact. Kevin Davies, however, struck a terrible effort, and Szczesny saved it with his feet.

In previous weeks, Arsenal have tried to cross the ball against teams playing deep, but today they played a lot more intricate passes, and from this, van Persie scored. He created the chance with his movement, and played a neat one-two with Fabregas before sweeping home from the edge of the area. Arsenal, though, could be accused of overplaying in the area, and despite all the possession, they only had 5 shots on target. As this was a team that lost 5-0 to Stoke the previous week, with a couple of goals coming from long shots, to only have 2 shots on target (not getting blocked) is disapppointing.

 

 by Guardian Chalkboards



Marouane Chamakh came on for Alex Song, and Robin van Persie dropped deeper. Despite Chamakh's height, Arsenal crossed the ball very few times, and none were successful. van Persie, almost playing as a midfielder, played two fantastic passes forward. The first one was shot by Nasri right at Jääskeläinen, while the second one was knocked down by Chamakh for Nasri, who whiffed.

Bolton counter attacked down their right hand side, against Gael Clichy, and one of these attacks lead to Johan Elmander going through, but he was denied by Szczesny. From the ensuing corner, though, Bolton scored, and it was a predictable ending to a very predictable performance from Arsenal. At times, they looked good, but for most of the match they looked like they were banging their heads against a brick wall. For most of the last 6 weeks, Arsenal have made a dent in this brick wall, but at a cost of several egg sized lumps on their head.

With the season effectively over, Arsene Wenger must look at improving his side. Otherwise, there will be more performances like this one.