Connect with us


Arsenal Force A Victory Over Bolton

Owen Coyle’s managerial debut for Bolton ended in a 0 – 2 defeat against the Gunners. The scoreline suggests an easy victory. It was anything but. To Bolton’s credit, they started the match brightly and nearly scored twice within the first 5 minutes. Arsenal, though intially stunned by Bolton’s aggressive approach and passing movement, regained their composure to take control of the match. It could easily have gone the other way though. What went wrong for Bolton?

1. Return of Cesc

Fabregas is, quite simply, a genius. Describe by our Football Channel pundits as being “from another planet”, he was virtually unplayable in the first half. Despite not being a vocal captain like Tony Adams, Cesc prefers to lead by example. His performance on the pitch speaks volumes and makes up for what his lack of verbal outbursts.

2. Matthew “Many Misses” Taylor

If Matty had been more composed, Bolton would probably have scored at least 3 goals. Instead, he fired the ball into the stands at least three times when it seemed easier to at least hit Almunia. It was surprising; one would expect much better for a player employed an incredible technique to score this wonder goal while playing for Portsmouth.

3. Owen Coyle Tactics

The different between Gary Megson’s Bolton and Owen Coyle’s Bolton could not have been more significant. Gary Megson’s Bolton was one I dreaded watching every week, mainly because they were so boring. Long ball tactics, physical play and lack of invention from every part of the pitch meant a long and dreary 90 minutes. Owen Coyle comes along and suddenly, it’s a brand new Bolton. However, the danger of playing Arsenal is that if you leave yourself slightly open, Arsenal will exploit it and punish you. And that is exactly what happened to them. Owen Coyle’s Bolton resembles his Burnley side: Good passing movement, good rhythm, aggressive offensive play, but too little behind to stop conceding goals. Owen Coyle must find the balance between offense and defense to ensure that teams don’t exploit the space his players leave behind.

Positives to note:

1. Ivan Klasnic

The striker was looking sharp. Spearheading much of Bolton’s attacks, he was a constant threat. Despite missing a couple of glaring opportunities, Bolton looked a lot more dangerous compared to when Elmander was leading the pack.

2. Craig Eastmond

The young midfielder played extremely well. While most young players making their debuts tend to avoid the forward pass for fear of misplacing it or losing the ball, Eastmond showed none of that. The future looks bright for this young man.

3. Fran Merida

Rumours are that Merida will join Athletico Madrid next season in an attempt to secure regular first team football. Judging from his performance, he does make a good case. Arsene Wenger will be looking to convince the youngster to stay after last night’s performance, but will he be able to offer Merida more first team opportunities?

Arsenal and Bolton face each other in the return fixture at the Emirates on Wednesday. Will Owen Coyle adjust his tactics? Will it be another inspirational performance from Fabregas? How many will Matty Taylor miss? I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I can’t wait to watch Bolton play.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. book review

    January 19, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Arsenal will win again

  2. Ole Gunner

    January 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Was I dreaming or did Cesc score the penalty that took Spain to the final of the Euros?

    Cesc is world class.

    By the way where’s the menopausal man who writes this blog? Why didn’t he go crazy about the Bolton guy who pulled Fabregas’ hair? Or is that reserved for people called Nasri.


    • The Gaffer

      January 18, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Ole Gunner, thanks for the compliments! 😉 Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to watch the Bolton v Arsenal game.

      The Gaffer

  3. Darren

    January 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Let’s remember that Eastmond is only 19. He started fairly well, and made some good tackles and interceptions. He did flounder in the 2nd half, but to me its understandable. The DM is not an easy place to play, especially for Arsenal who throw everyone forward but the CB and DM. Clearly not ready for regular football with the Arsenal first team, but he showed promise, and showed his youth and naivity. He will get stronger and better.

  4. mike

    January 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I thought Eastomond’s performance left a lot to be desired. He will struggle to fit into that holding role with his size. It was his first Premier League start but I expected him to get over the initial nervousness after the first 20 min but that didn’t happen. He lost possesion often and should have been booked for that tackle early in the game. I found it quite funny when the ref came over and spun him around to have a look at his name and number.
    Thank god Clichy is back because I can’t take much more of Traore on the back left. He started off well but his performances of late have not matched the quality we need bombing down the wings.
    Almunia just doesn’t look confident to me. Gallas gave him the evil eye when he didn’t come out for that ball and the drop in the begining would have been a lot more consequential had it been a few feet over and resulted in a goal.

  5. dbm

    January 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Poor poor Matty Taylor…would have been a different game if he had put his laces through that ball that Klasnic gave him in the box. Good first touch but poor follow through. Bolton look like they can actually play now. Coyle will have them out of the relegation scrapper in no time.

  6. jleau

    January 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Did anyone catch the commentators refer to Cesc as “nearly world class”? I was surprised by that comment especially when he was in the middle of a top performance.

    I agree that Merida did very well, but wasn’t impressed by Eastmond. He looked intimidated and gave the ball away far to often. Nothing disasterous, but I hope he’s not back in there real soon.

    Traore has lost it over the last couple of matches. He was awfull today.

    • Tyson

      January 18, 2010 at 12:05 am

      I think you need a few more accomplishments under your belt before you are referred to as “World Class”.

      Plus you have to remember there are a lot of unsung heroes in modern day football too. Defenders in particular get no credit and playmakers that create opportunities out of nothing and are responsible for creating goals that others score.

      If more people had an understanding of how football works Ryan Giggs would be the most valuable United player while Puyol would be the main man at Barcelona and Raul at Real Madrid.

      • MasterBlaster

        January 18, 2010 at 4:04 am

        leave it to Tyson to include a United player as World Class and pretend that he is speaking for the majority. Puyol? Really? If you want to show how little you understand about the game, you shouldn’t try to do it in one post.

        • Gunner JD

          January 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm



          MasterBlaster, you took the words right out of my mouth…

    • vermaelen5

      January 18, 2010 at 7:32 am

      I thought Eastmond was serviceable. He definitely didn’t play “extremely well” though. However, he never appeared to be overly scared or nervous to me, just a bit outstrengthed by some of the Bolton midfielders, so that is a positive for the future. I hope he maintains some confidence and think he definitely deserves a run out against Stoke in the FA Cup next weekend.

      As for Traore, you’re absolutely right. He was stuck ball-watching several times today and made Chung-Young Lee look like Lionel Messi coming down the right side. Clichy couldn’t have come back soon enough. I did hear the announcers suggest Wenger bring on Silvestre at one point (Did they forget about Clichy being fit?). Thank God that Arsene, unlike the commentators, has a brain and would never invite that kind of havoc into our back line.

      I did think Almunia looked OK. Apart from the botched catch towards the beginning of the game and that mixup with Sagna on who would take the ball, he played alright (more Bolton’s missing chances than him, but whatever). At least he kept the clean sheet, despite Traore’s best efforts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »