Saturday, 11 September 2010

Arsenal 4 Bolton 1: Wenger's style too much for Wanderers' brute force

By Ian Ridley

Three and easy: Marouane Chamakh added a third as Arsenal eased past 10-man Bolton

Owen Coyle is supposed to be bringing some subtlety and more of a passing game to Bolton in place of the direct, physical approach of recent years. He has some way to go.

Old habits do indeed die hard. Bolton had Gary Cahill sent off and might also have lost captain Kevin Davies and Paul Robinson to red cards in the sort of bruising encounter associated with these two teams, but which was unexpected now that Coyle is managing the Wanderers.

The frustration for him must surely be that the game, and his side's start to the season, was promising much before being so rudely interrupted.

There was a time when Arsenal might have caved in, when Arsene Wenger might have been bleating more than a field full of Spring lambs. Instead, he was delighted that his team may finally be growing into rams.

The manager's new centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and debutant Sebastien Squillaci came through a searching aerial test as his Cesc Fabregas-inspired team, though injury hit, rode the storm and the challenges to stride to their ninth successive victory over Bolton.

'There could have been other red cards,' conceded Wenger. 'It was very physical.

Bolton make use of the strong points of their team but they have a good mixture on the ground and in the air. They had true commitment and we had to be patient to get our technique and passing to prevail.'

Then he added tellingly: 'We've had two games, against Blackburn and today, where we would not have taken six points two years ago.'

Marching orders: Gary Cahill could have no complaints after being shown a straight red for a wild lunge on Marouane Chamakh

After Koscielny had given the home side the lead, his team spurned a host of chances before the interval and were rocked by Johan Elmander's equaliser.

Then, after Marouane Chamakh had restored their lead, came the physical test that also showed more mental maturity.

Bolton were unfortunate not to be given a free-kick for a foul on Chung-Yong Lee but lost their heads as a result while Arsenal kept theirs.

Cahill's hot-headed revenge tackle on Chamakh simply gave referee Stuart Attwell occasion to send him off, perhaps to make amends for not showing Davies a second yellow moments earlier for a late challenge on Koscielny.

Kieran Gibbs might have had a second yellow late in the game to show that Arsenal were not entirely blameless.

But by then Paul Robinson might also have gone for the visitors after a foul on Abou Diaby.

The game was certainly settled by then, late strikes by Alex Song - Arsenal's 1,000th league goal in 14 years under Wenger - and Carlos Vela gilding the lily.

Head boy: Johan Elmander fired his third of the season

'I think we all recognise what happened at 2-1 when we were pressing for the equaliser and Lee was fouled,' Coyle lamented.

'I thought it was a yellow for Gary Cahill and that was a blamehuge turning point. All I ask is that my team are dealt with in the same manner as the opposition, and we weren't today.'

It is to be hoped he does not let his team off the hook that easily in private.

Ultimately Arsenal had too much attacking talent, even in the absence of Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, and but for Hungarian goalkeeper Adam Bogdan they could have been out of sight by half-time.

It was all orchestrated beautifully by Fabregas, who nursed Wilshere - on loan at Bolton last season - through a rare start alongside him to show that his head is back at Arsenal after its summer excursion to Barcelona.

Wilshere instigated the first goal by crossing from the right for Fabregas to volley the ball back across goal and Koscielny bundled it in.

Making the pressure tell: Laurent Koscielny (centre) opens his Arsenal account with a close-range effort

Koscielny then went from hero to villain as he could only head a high ball back towards his own goal, Lee latching on to it before crossing from the left for Elmander to head home his third goal of the season.

Chamakh's headed goal to restore Arsenal's lead came after Arshavin and Fabregas had worked an opening for the Spaniard to cross from the byline, and soon 10-man Bolton were imploding in their own indiscipline.

They conceded the third when Arshavin played in a ball to the near post where Song nipped ahead of Zat Knight and chipped neatly over Bogdan.

Vela made it four when he paid Fabregas's delightful through-ball the compliment it deserved

source: dailymail

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