A great game today took us above United to second in the table. Lots to say, but let me start by saying the squad played very well as a unit, and supported each other on every offensive and defensive display. Well done.
A New Look Back-4: Wouldn’t have predicted this defensive line-up. With several uninspiring games under their belt, Sagna and Clichy took a rest on the wings for Eboue and Gibbs. I was really excited to see this decision. I felt BS3 and GC22 have been below their best this season, and I was excited to see two passionate players get a start. You could see the heart and hustle of Gibbs throughout the ninety minutes. Eboue too played well, leaving me to wonder if our two starting sidebacks have some competition in future fixtures… or if Wenger was just resting them for the game at Braga.
Along with those two, Vermaelen’s recent knock meant new signing Squillaci partnered Koscielny in defense. I thought the pair did pretty good, considering they’ve yet to really play alongside each other. Koscielny continued to work hard as he has done this season, and it was fantastic to see how elated he was with his strike; you can see the Arsenal kit means a lot to him. His costly mistake at the back was unfortunate, but overall I didn’t feel Bolton came close to breaking us down.
Almunia: I’m sure everyone was a little nervous after his botched clearance early in the game. However, he settled down well and played a strong game, including making some very good saves. We’ll need to get behind him, but I don’t feel he’s as weak of a link as some have made him out to be; he just needs to get his confidence back.
Kevin Davies: Bolton’s captain played like one and really spurred on the Wanderers, which I give him credit for. That being said, I felt he was very reckless throughout the match and was lucky to have finished the game. His challenges on Song, Wilshire, and especially Koscielny were all worth a booking, in my book (pun intended). However, of the three he managed only one yellow card. This leads me to the next topic of discussion.
Stuart Attwell: Today’s officiating was very poor. A number of bad calls and non-calls were added to by a variety of petty match-slowing decisions. Arsenal probably had a claim for at least one penalty, but none were given. Davies should have been sent off, but instead poor Gary Cahill had to endure a very questionable straight red that took Bolton right out of the game. And on that same play, Arshavin was clear of the defense were it not for Attwell’s inability to call advantage until the red could be given at the next whistle.
Ole, Ole, Vela: It put a huge smile on my face when Vela put in our fourth. The Emirates is often a quiet stadium considering its average attendance of near 60,000, but today the fans really got into it with a series of “Ole!” that Arsenal accommodated as they passed a tired Bolton to death late on. The build up of twenty or so passes was capped with a brilliant chip by Cesc to an onside Vela, who coolly slotted home a side-footed shot. A really nice moment for every Arsenal fan, and hopefully one that encourages those lucky enough to visit the Emirates to pour their heart out for the full game, every game.
And without going on for too much longer, it should be noted Cesc played much closer to his usual high standard, and Rosicky continues to impress with some nice passing and dangerous shots. Robinson shouldn’t have gotten away with that tackle that likely set Diaby back a bit, and it would have been nice to see Arshavin bury one of those decisive passes that he was gifted several times.
And to top it off, United letting in two goals in injury time to drop points was coupled by Sp*rs inability to take more than a draw against recently-promoted West Bromwich Albion. A great weekend in football; looking forward to the game at Braga midweek!