It's never pretty away to Bolton, it's inevitable that those Reebok luvvies will do everything in their power to put us off our rhythm, often that includes a lot of below the belt tactics, so it's always a tough test and a win there is always a hard earned three points. The surprise before the game was Nasri's absence with a hamstring injury, further limiting our midfield options. Despite some rather ludicrous banter in certain quarters of Nasri and Cesc being the holding player, Arsene opted to give Craig Eastmond a chance to impress on the big stage, something that had been hinted at here.
The first half saw us place some nice stuff and generally look the better side. Eastmond, who quiet effectiveness reminds me of Gilberto's style of play, was efficient in front the back four, he won a fair few headers, used the ball sensible and did what had been asked of him. Diaby played with discipline and was deep to support Eastmond, this then allowed Cesc the freedom he needed to open up Bolton time and time again. Other than a goal correctly ruled out for offside and a good Almunia save after Klasnic had bustled his way past Gallas, Bolton were generally restricted to half chances from outside the box.
We had two clear penalties denied, one before and one after the opening Fabregas goal, both for fouls on the aforementioned when the defenders got nothing on the football at all. The first goal came when Diaby scrapped for possession on the edge of the box, it broke to Cesc, a neat one two with Eduardo then led to Cesc side footing the ball home very calmly into the bottom corner, lovely stuff. Eastmond went close with a good side footed effort from a corner kick, while Cesc should have scored a second just before the break when he miss hit with the goal at his mercy from only a few yards out.
The usual filth came from Bolton's thugs. Taylor got Cesc's head in a bizarre leg lock in the box, rather than letting Cesc get up after he had been chopped down. Another incident saw a Bolton player, possibly Taylor again, clearly leave their studs in on Diaby as they tried to hurdle him on the half way line. Robinson was very lucky not to receive a second yellow for going through the back of Cesc for the second time with his studs showing. There was also more of his niggling violence in the second half, again there was another cleverly subtle stamp in the box, while Knight's aggressive approach to Carlos Vela showed just how unpleasant this bunch of tattooed neanderthals are.
It was pretty nervy for a good period of the second half. Bolton put some pressure on us and we held firm, with a little bit of help from the linesman and that little bit of luck that you always need. The dangerous Klasnic was incorrectly rules offside when in a very dangerous position through on goal, Taylor also missed a couple of decent chances which was particularly satisfying to watch. Generally though we kept it reasonably tight, Traore was caught out of position all afternoon, but part of this was the fact that he got virtually no support from the midfield in front of him, showing why it's very hard to get away with the 4-3-3 system unless you have superhuman fullbacks. As the half wore on we looked the more likely. Merida added drive from central midfield when he came on for the solid Eastmond, making some excellent jinking runs and forcing Bolton onto the back foot. The second goal appropriately went to Fran Merida, an excellent Eduardo chip cross was flicked on by Zat Knight, Merida brilliantly anticipated this, controlled it with his magic wands and slotted it home into the far corner, game over.
Overall Arsene got things right today and this resulted in a very nice away cleen sheet with three points attached. Bolton always raise their game for our visit and I think we did pretty well defensively in this context, Klasnic is a rather handy player too. People will always see what they want to see in players and if Manuel Almunia was called by another name then I am sure most people would be saying that he had a very decent game today. Traore was a bit suspect positionally and Clichy's return is a very welcome boost. It was excellent to see a young lad, Craig Eastmond, come in and do such a good job, I really hope he gets a few more starts in Song's absence. Cesc was awesome, at the hub of all our best moves, but it was thanks to Diaby and Eastmond's discipline that we could play him in a way that suited his game. Strangely we won 2-0 without any of the front three being fantastic, Eduardo linked up play well but didn't look as threatening as he can do, Rosicky worked very hard for the team, and Arshavin did disappoint me a little, slighty loose with his passing and often a bit peripheral. Still we're right up there and that's what counts.
Eduardo made two goals. Not a bad contribution. Eastmond looked classy - his composure was very impressive given it was his Premiership debut. He took a few wrong options (making over-ambitious forward passes once or twice and losing possession when a simple square ball was on) but that's only to be expected.
All in all, great result. If we can repeat it on Wednesday, and with the chasing pack all stuttering this weekend, it will begin to look like the top three are pulling away, with five or six clubs in a bunfight for the 4th ECL spot.
Team like Bolton should be relegated. They are out to injure Fabregas when they knew he is unplayable. Over physical type of play no longer survive in today's football.
I agree fab4 was for a good part of the second half kicked out of it by boltons over aggressive antics but the yuong uns showed how much they have grown when their under abit of preassure stayed composed and stole a winner on the break good finish by merida as well
WELL DONE LADS! same again wed
I loved it when a group of our players got in the ref's face when he was about to discipline Rosicky for his foul. It's the sort of behaviour we used to see from the team in the days when we were championship winners. It shows how the squad are fighting for each other and that the will to win is strong. Come on the mighty Arse.
I agree about eddy, he did link things up well and find some good space. He just isn't quite as quick over ten yards as he was, with more game time he'll slowly get there I'm sure.
Agree on team spirit. Getting rid of Toure and Adebayor has been a big part of it I reckon.
Its amazing. Another slightly iffy performance from several players leads to another comfortable win on paper.
Offesnsively, this was the Cesc Show. Possibly his best 90 mins of the season in my book.
Defensively we look ok. Even with Traore being a muppet. But God help us if Tommy V gets injured.
We really are on jumping up and down on the thin ice of the squad now. As Ted says all it takes is an injury to Rosicknote and we'll be drowning.
The solution is not always to go out and spend, but our ability to win a nice silver pot could come down to how many players we can actually get onto the pitch.
We desperately need something in midfield, and are an injury away from a Sylvestre/Campbell pairing. I do nor want to go into our season defining games at the end of the month with those two at the back, Eastmond and Merida in the middle and no classic "big man" up front.
Until then, just got to keep on grinding out the results.....
Bolton ,the out of date footballteam,exploited our left side weakness but the most disgusting thing of the night was the ref!!!Our 1st penalty claim was so obvious even ferguscum would have given it to us but not this ref the 2nd was down to the linesman plus no card for taylor for what i call a assault on Cesc.Before rosicky got booked-lol-Diarby had 3 cloggers round him kicking and pushed him to the ground IN FRONT OF THR REF but he did fuck all?!!!!!.A good win really,with a depleted side against a out dated side whose only tactic is the hoof to the big man up front.Now what we need to do is score4/5 on weds night.
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