Arsenal 2-0 Bolton: Not a powder puff in sight

Since Arsenal last won the league in 2004 there have been questions asked about the physical and mental qualities of our players.

The general consensus has been that the squads over the past five season have lacked both the mental and physical strength to produce results both against powerful teams and in the biggest games. That the beautiful football falls to pieces at the vital moments and the players simply don’t have the ability to get the job done when the going gets tough.

While the answer to the question of whether this team has the ability to win the big games will be answered in February, the answer to the question of whether they can cope with physical opponents has been answered emphatically over the past six weeks.

Since losing with an understrength team to Chelsea in the last game of November our boys have passed increasingly physical tests against Stoke, Liverpool, Burnley, Everton and Bolton with flying colours. We may not have won every match and particularly struggled at Turf Moor and at home to a resurgent Everton, but not once since playing Chelsea have we lost a physical battle.

It gives me great pleasure to say that that trend continued against Bolton.

The home side may have a new manager who values good football in Owen Coyle but a lack of time in the job meant his influence could not be felt as the played the sort of match that only Sam Allardyce would be proud of. But our men would not be perturbed as they fought fire with fire to extinguish Bolton’s greatest strength.

When Cesc Fabregas was denied a clear penalty at 0-0 he responded with a crunching tackle on Gretar Steinsson. When Ivan Klasnic took out Abou Diaby from behind he was immediately dealt with by Tomas Rosicky. In between those moments Thomas Vermaelen was at his physical best, the midfield and attack embraced every Bolton confrontation and most importantly – Fabregas scored a beautiful opening goal.

There was not a powder puff in sight and it made Bolton realise that the only way to beat us was by playing football. They tried hard and created a number of very good opportunities but ultimately failed as the game turned into an open affair, the sort of contest that we were always likely to win. Inevitably we did just that, subsitute Fran Merida smartly converting his first league goal after another incisive run by Fabregas.

The starting team was filled with natural leaders – Fabregas, Rosicky, Arshavin, Eduardo, Almunia, Vermaelen – and it showed. The less authoritative players automatically lifted their game and apart a rocky performance by Armand Traore the result was an excellent team effort right across the board.

Our defence was not perfect, our midfield understrength with Craig Eastmond making his debut and our attack still lacking an ideal focal point, but the physical application by our players was admirable.

If our boys can beat Bolton by the same margin at home on Wednesday they will be top of the league for the first time since 2007. What an achievement that will be for a team that after five long years has developed the physical side to their game necessary to challenge for the top honours.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Bolton by leaving a comment.

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44 Responses to “Arsenal 2-0 Bolton: Not a powder puff in sight”

  1. Nirmit
    January 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    really good match yesterday…. if we continue this and wit players comin back… we can win it this year…. C’mon Arsenal..

  2. I mole
    January 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Am proud of d current arsenal crop bcos they can face d physical aspect of d game and are getting goals eventhough without a striker. Fab was great 2nite and whole team at large. D match against bolton and manutd will be an opportunity 2 move 2 d top of d table. Go Arsenal


    Sent on a phone using T9space.com

  3. Sola Bamigboye
    January 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    nothing else to say…let them bring it on…AW has always said that these guys were growning….now i believe they have grown….February like December would be another test of their character….

  4. Omecha
    January 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    It was indeed a very fascinating performance which should instead motivate us to play more better at emirates and win that match too. As one could note from that match, there is really need for wenger to consider getting a very influencial player in this transfer window upfront. I would like to appreciate the attitude of fabregas, his runs and coordination with Eduado is just wonderful, keep it up men!

  5. alan goat
    January 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    I didn’t think bolton played poorly-they played a really agressive game and the lads responded really well.

    We can definately win at home through the week!

    Nice wrap up of the match andy.

  6. kamaal
    January 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    natural leader –> alumnia are u really serious?.He is such a big disgrace for arsenal, the least talented player to wear an arsenal shirt wrt age and experience.

  7. Ronnieh Ronnoh
    January 18, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Best n nice…the perfomance really lovely,its only on wednesday clitchy if nt traore shud nt give way 2 tat pacy winger-Lee.otherwise we shud b topping te leauge after 90mins on wed.GO GUNNERS GO.

  8. Haklid
    January 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    its for all to see that…. game by game the team is getting tougher, and what a bonus for the boys to be led one of their own young turk…

    Long live AW, long live the young Guns

  9. wesley
    January 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    Guys well fought and well won but MA has a slight problem with game reading he kept on hitting the balls upfront without any result and this always put pressure on the defense and midfield. We can out pass any one at any tym so why nt utilize dat opportunity else we shall b purnished one day.

  10. Ianinja
    January 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Teams like bolton are the ones that we should sweep away with ease. Its good to know that the boys are being physical though 6 years is a long time to learn that. Now lets see them be physical on the return against Chelsea. The top teams are the games that would be the proper test. I thought their south korean winger was good, if only clichy and sagna could cross like that.

  11. Andrew Weber
    January 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    @ laninja – Better late than never.

  12. dampatti
    January 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    don’t want to get to the coulda , woulda have beens of the doom sayers. I am absolutely delighted that we got the 3 points in difficult circumstances. Verm was very good in the air once again went for every ball, i like the lad. Traore at the moment is punching way beyond his weight, id prefer him move to left wing and clitchy back at left back. If denilson is back by wednesday traore should be rested. IMO with the amount of injuries we have i think we are doing pretty well. Eduardo and Arsh need some goals while edu looks better with every game. Was gutted by the cameroon win as i was already rubbing my hands with glee that we’ll have song back earlier than anticipated..i’m still hoping they get eliminated. eastmond did ok but was off the pace in the second half and started misplacing passes..but he’s one for the future. Fab led with a captains performance. 3-0 to the arsenal on wednesday. COYG..COYG

  13. gideon
    January 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    I hope we sign a powerful striker and song to return

  14. khaya
    January 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    2-0 win at Bolton. Absolutely delighted. Just heard Essien may be out for a while with a possible recurrence of his knee injury and as I write this message Cameroon losing to Zambia in the ANC, so SONG might be coming back quicker than we all thought especially as Cameroon have already lost their first game of the tournament. Now back to the Bolton game, very pleased that EASTMOND had a chance but SONG is better, thought DIABY did OK but still caused uneccessary problems for both him and the team by occasionally dwelling on the ball too long. Still no more moaning we WON and that’s all we should care about. Can anyone tell me what the hell PAUL ROBINSON’s doing on the same footy pitch as premiership footballers. That plonka is nothing but a VINNY JONES WANABEE!! AW please sign another striker, preferably BALOTELLI

  15. amar
    January 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Didn’t go to the match this weekend so I sat down and watched it on TV. The first thing I noticed was the obvious excitement of the commentators over the managers first game. After the initial opening period when Arsenal settled the game down I noticed in commentary a really annoying trait from the two of the commentators to simply just speak to fill in the gaps as if they could not have a single bit of non commentary. I think Arsenal ruined the two commentators day to be honest as they were itching for Bolton to score so they could go on about vulnerabilities etc and I also felt them willing Bolton to score twice so they could rerun the West Ham routine. I think next I am watching on TV I may just turn the volume down a bit. Well done to the away fans, yet another great effort and well done to Eduardo who whilst not proving himself as the centre forward we need did have a resounding impact on the game. Additionally well Fabregas on a great performance but also the rest of the team including a couple of youngsters making their mark again, I personally find this very enjoyable to watch as these are the games to blood the new guys and get them used to the rough and tumble of competitive football.

  16. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 18, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Exactly. Now we’ve got an iron fist in the velvet glove. Well, not quite, but you know, getting there. :P:
    It was a tough game and I was getting a bit fraught midway through the second half but the lads pulled it off. I was actually glad that Nasri couldn’t make it because I feel he’s been a bit lightweight lately and we seemed quite strong generally all over the pitch. Kudos to The Great Man with another master stroke substitution – bringing Merida on. He’s getting pretty good at that. Kudos to the away Gooners singing it up loud. Kudos to Fab4 for being a fricken genius! I watched a BBC interview with him on-line after and he was totally focused on the ‘one-game-at-a-time’, ‘team effort’ line. Brilliant.
    It’ll be tough again at the Emirates but on a slicker surface I really don’t think Bol-ton (robotic voice) will be able to deal with us. 3-1? 4-1 maybe?

  17. Andrew Weber
    January 18, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    I think we’ll go top of the league on Wednesday.

    It would be so good after being 11 points behind Chelsea.

  18. GrahamLondon
    January 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    I think the problem we face is a tough one now. If we bring new players in now we have to have them fit in straight away so I feel they will have to come from the Premier league so that they are already used to it. With our run of games coming up which include the FA cup, Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool to name a few we cannot really afford to be carrying any passengers. If we can come through these games on the winning side we really and truly can start thinking about a league win in my view but if we do not then there is an awfully big struggle ahead. I know and totally agree that we need to strengthen but it is so important that we get exactly the right players in and I really feel they need to come in from the Premier League. That said if we look around then at who may be available then I think we are looking at C Cole/Saha for the striker, Shawcross/Hangeland (may still be injured though) for the Centre back and a player like Graham Alexander/Cahill even Fallani for their box to box games in the middle. If we start buying players from outside who need a lot of time to settle then I feel we may just miss an opportunity plus cash strapped clubs will not be able to resist our money should we bid for players or even include a few swaps through sales or loans like Senderos, Walcott, Almunia and Denilson.

  19. simba
    January 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    I’ve read somewhere that some Jaimie Redknapp said that Eduardo was just a passenger in the team. Well if we would have a passenger every game that gives 2 assists I will take it.

    Also a little reflection on our draw last week against Everton who won this weekend 2-0 against City ‘the in form team since Mancini came in’. Really think Everton isn’t that bad as the table indicates and that the result wasn’t as bad as we first thought.

  20. simba
    January 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Just doing a little bit of research for an article today and came across this from the News of the World

    By MARTIN HARDY, 14/11/2009
    LIVERPOOL are ready to poach Eduardo from rivals Arsenal in a £10million deal.

    Laugh? I nearly…

  21. simba
    January 18, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    It is a real pleasure supporting Arsenal. A well run club with a great manager and exciring players who delight with their style of play – and win, without all the silly money that is bringing the game into disrepute.

  22. Filipino Dan
    January 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    It was a long drive from Edinburgh but well worth it indeed. Best chants were “there’s only one Gary Megson”, “you should have stayed at Burnley” and “youre getting sacked in the morning”.

    Let’s not underestimate this result, it was a tough test all elements considered and we came thorugh. We must put them to the sword on Wed thought, as being top of the league is the ideal way to enter into our succesive games against Villa, Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

  23. Andrew Weber
    January 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Nice one Dan, good work with the support.

    Graham, you’re absolutely right and it’s the reason why Wenger hasn’t signed anyone (except for Sol). He needs players that can fit in straight away or it’s a worthless transaction – we have players coming back and we’re winning games. It has to be a perfect fit or it’s just not worth it.

  24. GunnerCesc4
    January 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    I totally disagree with u. We never saw the ‘typical bolton’, who used just foul and foul and bully the players.
    This bolton side played football. They wanted to score goals as much as Arsenal and they just didnt sit back
    and defend. I actually admired their attitude under coyle.I was thinking, well if u want to play football against
    Arsenal theres gonna be only one winner.
    Yes, there were few crunching tackles and the physical side to the game but it was not typical bolton who used
    to rely only on that. They had pretty good chances,esp taylor and klasnic and in the end it came down to the quality of the players.
    i wouldnt really say yesterday that it was a physical battle won, but it is apparent that we are much better at dealing with this aspect of the game.

  25. Ngarama
    January 18, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    @GunnerCesc4, Did you see how Knight held(bullied) Vela, it was very funny. n.way we made it n hope we do the same if not get a threesome on Wed..

  26. Luxinbrasil
    January 18, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Excellent summary Andy….

    It was also great to see Clichy get back on the pitch…albeit out of position…but that was clearly to lend Traore a helping hand!!….

  27. Tina Ochola
    January 18, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    Well done Arsenal!Success is ours.Say no to barreness and yes to trophies this season!!!Keep up with the same spirit.I dont see any unbeatable team.Birmingham held Chelsea @the bridge,Fulham beat Utd 3nil and were beaten 2nil yesterday,Villa beat Chelsea but were held by the hammers,so nothing is impossible!!

  28. GunnerBoss
    January 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    Well done to the boys

  29. KenyanGoon
    January 19, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Did anyone notice how those Bolton players were exploiting the weak back left? Traore has not had a good game in our last two matches and he should really step up. Great to have Clichy back though, am pretty sure he’ll be starting on wednesday

  30. Ibrahaz
    January 19, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Check this very insightful and interesting article from Tim Collins.
    http://goal.com/en-gb/news/2602/arsenal-special/2010/01/18/1750466/tim-collings-arsenal-comment-cesc-fabregas-on-his-way-to

  31. Temmie frm Nigeria
    January 19, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    The problem with arsenal for the past 4 seasons is that we start badly and end strongly (except 07/08 season) but this sean we’ve started strongly n hope we finish strongly. And thd diff between this season and 07/08 season is that the team doesnt depend on a single player (Adebayor) to score,anybody can score to the extemt that TV was cut offside in the Bolton match from a run of play.Common gunners,we can do it

  32. georgetown gooner
    January 19, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    @andy,whilst i agree there has been an improvement in our physical approach lately i dont think we are quite there yet,we were totally out muscled against chelski at the emirates which wasn,t that long ago.the 4 games coming up against villa,liverpool,chelski and manure will be the defining moment of our season and if we can take 10pts out of 12 i think we will win the league.wenger needs to sign a striker in january as i,m not convinced b52 will stay fit for the remainder of the season, even if its a loan signing or a veteran front man as that can be the difference between winning a trophy or not this season.

  33. georgetown gooner
    January 19, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    if we beat bolton by the required amount of goals to go top of the table on wednesday so be it but to be honest i,d prefer us to be where we are positionally at the moment nicely tucked in 3pts off the top and ready to finish the season in style.the question is if we do hit the top now do we have enough players with experience in a title run in whilst leading the table? just a thought.

  34. sa gunnar
    January 19, 2010 at 4:42 am #

    A much improve performance than the last with alumnia couple of saves and a clean sheet, what is different from last season is that players that get injured are replaced other players, I am not convinced that bendtner will the player that we need up front as he been tried and tested, still we don’t have aggresive striker, so it’s time to hit the transfer market, lukasz polodski still the player I wou ld go for or someone for love scoring ruud van nistelrooy there are plenty of strikers but they must be the right fit.

  35. georgetown gooner
    January 19, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    nasri and ramsey out for 3 weeks,merida now also injured but walcott and denilson fit and back in the squad for wed game against bolton.

  36. Rian Joubert
    January 19, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    I am worried though. Nasri and Ramsay both injured and we have the a hard couple of games coming up!!!

  37. Emperor Gooner
    January 19, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    brilliant post mr.weber

    wednesday’s game is almost like a formality ..with this team ,

    al
    sag gal ver clic

    den

    ab fab

    tom ed arsh

    we’ll tear them apart…lets just hope playing against those talentless thugs doesnt result in any further injuries

  38. Avik
    January 19, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    What’s getting on my nerves is ppl saying that the defining month of the season is coming up for Arsenal and we’ve got our players coming back…HELL NO!! We are losing more ppl each day faster than the ppl coming back. Looks like cameroon will last a little longer in african cup of nations. That means song,nasri and ramsey are definitely out of the manu game and they might just be back in time for the chelsea match. I would also like to express my view that a new signing wont change anything at all at this moment of the season. It takes time 4 everyone 2 adapt 2 arsenal’s style of play and right now with only 2 weeks left for the manu game, we havent got any time.

  39. theicehammer
    January 19, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    @Andy, it very good to see yr boys putting it in and giving as good a they get, but inevitably they will pick up injuries because they have not the muscle to keep pounding away.
    Shambo did u see any of my boys on Match of the day. I think we have found another prospect in Frank Nouble. For a kid he was very very good as a loan striker. He will be better than Cole for sure. 6f.3 13stone skillful and wid the pase of Henry and he is English.

  40. theicehammer
    January 19, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    @avik, like i said earlier, the team will keep on picking up injuries because they are not big enough for some of the jobs they have to do, all though they are trying their best. Why does every player have to adapt to Arsenal’s style? Isn’t just playing very well good enough, does one have to play well in a certain way. Also Vermaelem seemed to fit in quite quickly. At the end of the day it was a good away win how ever it was done.

  41. shambogunner
    January 19, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    in fairness if your a footballer at all you wil knit in with the way we play straight away…its the combative,hectic pace of the PL that you need guys to adjust to,something strong,experienced internationals shud be used to….we need a big strong link man with an eye for goal….simple,no excuses, its there for all to see,we get some1 who can mix it with vidic/ferd, terry/carv, agger/carra and wer laughin…whod stop us?
    @ice alri mate nouble is a great prospect but still a bit raw,and dare i say it, awkward….id like to see him 1v1 tho so i can see his technique and composure,i hope the hammers build on that form now….and take points off utd and chels!!!!!

  42. Mark Vaghei
    January 19, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Arsenal was the winner against Bolton, however, we still need physical presence up front and in the air. Sagna needs to cross the ball with quality. Almunia looks very undecisive. He needs to take charge in front of the goal. Chelsea has too many quality players, we cannot afford to be so fragile. Lets face it, we got somewhat lucky to pick up 3 points at Bolton. Difinitley need to pick up a Carlton Cole or Saha type for upfront. Also, we need to occasionally have midfielders take long range shots at the opponent’s goal to keep them honest and take the congestion out of the 18 yard box. Go Arsenal.

  43. Ianinja
    January 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    We must beat Bolton, we are the Arsenal. Although the league is diffirent this year since any teams can upset the top 7 teams. Despite that we’re playing at home so I expect a win. I’ll take a 1-0 win anyday, its time for us to keep clean sheets. Have a hunch that this years champion could win it on goal difference.

  44. theicehammer
    January 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    WHUFC has been sold, there is a big chance that Zola and Clerk could be out and Mark Hughes in. A very sad day for me because if they change the coach i will support no club.

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