Arsenal 2 – 1 Bolton: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

When I saw the starting line-ups, my initial reaction was that this was going to be a very tough game that will demand a special performance from the Gunners if they were to qualify. After the final whistle, I doubt anyone will argue that it wasn’t an exceptional effort from an interesting collection of young and experienced footballers in red and white.

Arsenal had Yennaris and Miquel in full back positions while Coquelin and Frimpong manned the centre of midfield. Oxlade-Chamberlain was the right sided winger. The other six players in the side were an experienced lot but most of them haven’t had enough games this season.

I thought the first half was a cagey affair as both sides were intent on keeping it safe. As we have seen in some of the recent games, the Gunners kept the midfield deeper and closer to the defence. This made the team fairly solid at the back. Rarely was a defender exposed. But it meant a shortage of numbers and runs in the attacking areas.

Bolton had similar tactics and dropped back when the Gunners were in possession. I must say that was a real surprise and is probably a reflection on their abysmal confidence at the moment. A more positive start from the visitors would have tested the mix-n-match selection that Arsene had to put out.

If memory serves, the opening period was just about shots from distance. Pratley was the first to test Fabianski with a blistering strike. That was Bolton’s first real attacking move after 20 minutes of Arsenal’s dominance. The Gunners though, weren’t really able to make the possession count till that time.

A couple of minutes later Park tested the Keeper from 25+ yards. Soon after, Kakuta beat Miquel with a stepover but then hit it straight at Fabianski. In the 33rd minute Benayoun fashioned a half-chance from a difficult angle on the left edge of the box but couldn’t get enough curve on the ball. Vermaelen then forced a big save from a set-piece that was rolled to him by Arshavin. Finally, shortly before half-time, Arshavin and Park combined to create an opening for the Korean skipper. His strike from the edge of the box was well directed but Bogdan was able to parry it for a corner.

There wasn’t much in it as the youngsters were working really hard. Bolton weren’t playing a dirty game and that helped.

Coyle, after sensing an opportunity, must have instructed his players to press higher up the pitch. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Muamba caught Frimpong in possession halfway inside the Arsenal area and then went on to finish after exchanging passes with the impressive Pratley.

The visitors were able to pin Arsenal back but were caught on the break twice in quick succession. Less than five minutes after scoring, Bolton were camped in the Arsenal half and were threatening the goal from a corner situation. Fabianski was able to make the save and launched it forward towards Benayoun for a quick break. For a moment the throw appeared ill-advised as the Israeli was dispossessed. But Benayoun and Alex did well to win the ball back. The youngster lobbed it into space wide on the right for his senior teammate. Benayoun sensibly held the ball and waited for support. Arshavin accepted a pass and ambled into the box looking for options. With no real passing options available, the Russian placed his strike beautifully into the far corner.

A couple of minutes later Ju-Young Park scored the winner from another fast break. Coquelin did brilliantly to win the ball inside the Arsenal half and play it forward to the Russian with one touch. Park had strayed off-side but Arshavin held the ball long enough to give his striker a chance to adjust as the Bolton defenders backtracked. The Russian captain’s ball was perfectly weighted and the Korean skipper planted it into the far side with one touch.

Subsequently, Bolton tried hard and created a number of chances. Fabianski was a bit shaky but did enough to keep the ball out. At the other end Arsenal too had some opportunities on the break but couldn’t get the extra goal cushion.

Towards the end, worryingly, Frimpong and Vermaelen came off with injuries. Hopefully, it won’t be serious.

It wasn’t a sublime performance but the diligence and determination of the players was commendable. It was a physical and mental challenge, and one that the youngsters have passed with flying colours. And as Arsene said, credit to the experienced players for taking charge and making their quality count.

Individual Performances:

Fabianksi: Made a number of vital saves but had one or two iffy moments where Bolton fans would say he got lucky. Looked fairly confident and that is important.

Yennaris: Superb. Just loved his positioning, tackling, and tenacity. Best of the five youngsters on the pitch. A very pleasant surprise.

Squillaci: Looked better than Cahill to me! Definitely a more assured performance reminiscent of his good period with Djourou in defence. Won a number of headers, was present in the right areas, fairly composed on the ball.

Vermaelen: Very dominant at the back. Read the game well, made a number of vital tackles, great strike at goal. Did make a mistake of leaving a cross  for Fabianski once when Klasnic got in behind. Overall a very satisfying return. More is definitely expected.

Miquel: Struggled a bit in one-v-one situations but did well when he got tight to his man. Looks like he’s grown in confidence and physically. Has to improve his contribution in the attacking areas but that’s for a later date.

I thought the defenders did very, very well. The full backs didn’t bomb forward as often as their first team counterparts do. It was a safe approach and a shrewd one. Bolton still created some chances late in the game and there are gaps in the collective defending but individually it was fairly good.

Coquelin: A touch erratic with his touch and passing but looked technically better than some of the Bolton first-team players. Very energetic performance with appreciable defensive tracking and tackling.

Benayoun: Swapped positions with Arshavin and moved over the pitch seamlessly. Wasn’t as influential on the ball as I’d have liked but clearly it’s a matter of having the right understanding with others. That takes time and regular games. Also worked hard defensively, especially providing good cover on the left.

Frimpong: Was a beast physically and won a number of individual battles. Made some excellent tackles as well. But there was a lackadaisical part of his game that saw him caught in possession a few times and led to trouble. Needs more urgency even if just playing the ball out from the back. It’s a mental issue as he certainly has the ability to do better.

The midfield wasn’t as dominant as Arsenal’s usually is but that was to be expected. They still outperformed and, more importantly,  outworked their experienced opponents. Must have been a great experience for the young duo.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Probably the most erratic Arsenal player on the pitch. Has bags of talent but also a long learning curve ahead. Kakuta is an excellent example of how a talented player could struggle to make a big impact. Needs to listen to Arsene and continue working hard without paying any attention to unnecessary hype.

Park: Wasn’t in the game for the first twenty minutes despite Arsenal’s possession dominance. Got some confidence after his first strike on goal. Impressed with his shooting technique and movement. Good work rate.

Arshavin: Better physical effort than usual. Excellent finish, wonderful assist. His class was apparent and did well to guide the younger players constantly. MotM in my opinion.

The attackers were isolated for large parts of the game but delivered when they got a chance to combine. Their vision, passing, and finishing was a couple of notches above the visitors’ strikers.

Subs: Miyaichi showed exciting pace, determination, and footwork but needs to develop physically or he will be brushed off the ball far too easily. Ozyakup filled in efficiently for Frimpong. Boateng wasn’t really tested in the final five minutes as the Gunners had bodies back when needed and Bolton missed their half-chances.

Wenger: Hats off to the manager for getting a result with such a young side. He’s clearly taken a very conservative tactical approach in the last few games to rebuild the side’s confidence and it’s paying dividends even if at the short-term cost of flamboyance. In a way it was amusing to recall some people actually suggested last season that Coyle should replace Wenger at Arsenal.

35 Responses to Arsenal 2 – 1 Bolton: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      something i liked as much as the finish itself. If you look closely, coq knows he’s going to get there first adn hence just looks up adn instead of just stabbing and winnign the ball, he actually looks up and plays a pass in one motion. This is one quality which seperates the truly great DMs. They not only get their foot in, but can release counter attacks. In this instance he does both in one motion:)

    • santori says:

      Have to learn Korean!

      They make it sound so terribly exciting whatever they are talking about!!! Love it! 😀

  1. BarDel says:

    Love it! Good momentum going into the Chelsea game!

  2. VanTheManPersie says:

    i havent watched the full game yet, but so looking forward to it. I had thought earlier that it would be tight and arsenal would just get passed the line 2-1 and it turned out that way. Expected arshavin to start. However wenger surprised with pong and coq. Two DMs, something i thought wenger would never do but am glad he’s open to the idea. It gave arshavin much needed freedom in the ‘hole’ so to speak. I have looked at their goal and sure pong did exactly what we’ve been dreading from him i,e, either a misplaced pass straight to the opponent or getting caught it possesion. He did the latter. But thats when you need your forwards to come to the rescue when you have a youngish back 5 so to speak. (Ok squid is not young and verm is our best, but you know what i mean). I remember us making defensive mistakes and being punished for and ppl blamign arsenal;s fargilty at the back. This just shows what putting your chances away can do. What a finish! Cant remember the last time someone curled. An henryesque finish. Reminds me of the champions league curler from cesc a few years ago. As well as park played, i will not blame wenger for not picking him earlier. I do believe the time we were going through as a team, we needed as little changes and familiar faces as possible and needed to grind out results. As bad has Chamakh has been, he still has played in this league before and to wenger it probably didnt amtter if he didnt score as long as we ground out results and his work rate was good. Once we get a good run going, we will see more experimentations with the line up. We will even see arteta not just passing sideways that he has been criticised for by a section. (I remember the his through ball to gervinho deep in arsneal half , i think was against blackburn where Gerv’s first touch let him down). Would have been a perfect day if not for a late injury scare to Verm. In his interview Le boss says Verms a bit short for Chelsea. Too bad. I just feel Djourou might be exploited at RB by Cole,Mata and even anelka sho sometimes works the left channel.

    Park has arrived with a bang. And Arsha’s goal just reminded me the guy doesnt need any back lift watsoever to fire bullets:)

  3. Elkieno says:

    In AUS we couldnt see The game, they showed aldershot v utd instead… Anyway sounds like a good outing, can’t wait for the highlights….
    I remember reading/hearing bout Wenger going and Coyle coming in. What a joke who were those idiots? 15year olds with a PC and too much time!

  4. VanTheManPersie says:

    Well to be honest with all the negativity around arsenal in recent times (the media just wants to slaughter our every move..imagine if what happened to chelsea happened to us and it was gervinho instead of drogba…arsene cant control hsi players..sicne his reign…x number of red cards..blah blah). So much of what we perceive is built around how it is presented. So thos 15 year olds can maybe forgiven. I liked the idea somebody gave that watching the game with the commentary turned off is fascinating as you can see things that you normally would ignore. Have been doing it ever since:)

    • T2T says:

      Of course, they really cannot use the “since his reign” as Chelsea have gone through half a dozen managers while Arsene has been at the helm at Arsenal…

    • AP says:

      The best i’ve felt is when u have no commentary and have all the ground sounds and can hear the crowd react..

  5. saintann says:

    my anger is that i did not watch the match…but from what i read i know they played well and before mr wenger can comment on a player then he have won his heart…his talk about park..we may start seeing another pearing in please who knows how i can watch this game…please send it to my mail,,,…please goonersfamily arsenal runs in my blood,,follow me on twitter @saintann01

  6. chidygunner says:

    I love ur analysis Desi. Keep it on!! Gunner till i die

  7. desigunnerfan says:

    was really impressed with d movement of Park..n arshavin was terrific in free role behind d striker..i think wenger shld think of playing him in tht position in league also..wht say..??

    btw Happy Diwali to you..dnt knw abbt US bt its awsum atmosphere here in India

  8. Yusuf says:

    I didn’t watched the match because they didn’t show it here in NIGERIA. But from what i read they really played well. Up gunners!!

  9. santori says:

    We rode our luck a little with that defensive line up.

    Having Vermaelen back was great but I would have thought we were better served with Metersecker /Miguel in the middle and Santos out wide.

    Still, a pleasant surprise to see the boss giving the Carling Cup it’s due importance…for youth development that is….and not overburden it thereby stretching us thin vis-a-vis other competitions (Chelsea come to mind)

    Thought we did well considering Frimpong and Coquelin were holding the middle of the park.

    More so considering Squillaci at the back (anyone for Cahill still?):D

    But the real plus today was playing Arsharvin close to the middle in almost a 4-4-1-1.

    As I have harped on before, he is simply most effective in a more central position behind the striker. I’m willing to bet he will be equally effective behind Chamakh where he can put his creativity to good use and move into interesting and unsuspected areas using the big man as a foil.

    In this respect, are we finally finding ourselves an alternative to RVP?

    Particularly with Park who is beginning to win me over. The Korean takes up excellent position and is a superb striker of the ball. He’s not afraid to let fly at distance which is what we need and his finishing is composed.

    Excellent understanding with AA and good thinking in keeping onside which I suppose belllies his extremely high IQ.:D

    yet another excellent ‘panic buy’ by the gaffer this summer!

  10. Northern Gooner says:

    re VanTheManPersie: About the negtivity surounding The Arsenal this autumn it it not mainly the medias foult. I would say its largely a arsenal-blogg related issue. Thy read LeGrove, Myles Palmer and a dusin other bloggs and you get the picture that Arsene and the dark forces have conspired to create the downfall of this club. Its been a bad start – but all the easy options (sack Wenger and the Board and Darth vader) is just populistic nonsence me thinks

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      yes i have been to LeGrove and i know exactly what you mean. People even took Wenger’s comment about park taking time to settle out of context using it to say “if he’s as good as Henry,Pires,,why dont play him?”. which is ridiculous. I mean when did wenger ever say that? But i stil feel the media never helps. Liverpool had been poor in times before and have had very poor runs but i dont remember them being crucufied as much as arsenal were for that 0-0 draw vs a good newcastle side..also chelsea last year for the blip they had..

      for the 1-6 drubbing, i have read several columns and their toen is more apologetic towards the utd fan more than anythign about the poor display and capitulation. One of the sites which actually gives players ratings for evry game didnt ahve any ratings for the manutd-manc game! To give the nani’s,youngs and rooneys 3s,4s is just not good business

  11. Jjkmiles says:

    We should play arshavin behind the striker anytime he is playin. Playin him out wide kills what he has to offer

  12. […] Arsenal 2 – 1 Bolton: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis ( […]

  13. ras-kofai says:

    Nice win.this will help boast the moral of the players into the CHELSEA game and i think ASHARVIN and PARK should start that game so that the Gun-Man(VAN PERSIE) comes inn 65th munits to the second half.I think with this tactics,the Gun-Man(VAN PERSIE) will be INJURY free.

  14. T2T says:

    I don’t think we played well, but we won. Usually when e.g. ManU does that, they’re lauded and statements such as “that’s the stuff of champions” etc is used by the pundits.
    Park looked the part, Arshavin – a favourite of mine – showed why he should play in the middle.
    An alternative line-up against Chelsea;
    Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos
    Song, Ramsey
    Gervinho, Arshavin, Park
    van Persie

    I elieve it’s too early for Vermaelen so I’d keep the back 4 as against Stoke. Have Song play his usual role and Ramsey play the box-to-box role Jack typically would do. They should be able to play a tight game with both Song and Ramsey focusing on their defensive duties.
    Then, up front, the intelligence, movement, speed and creativity of Gervinho, Arshavin, Park and van Persie would put enormous pressure on the Chelsea defence.

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      the start would be pretty franatic and we would need control of the midfield as well as cover for the back four. As good as ramsey will turn out to be,he still gives the ball away at times and him,arshavin and song might not provide us that stability, the first half demands the sideways passing of arteta:). I would go with arteta,ramsey and song. I’d be tempted to start with park on the wings in place of walcott but i would still go with walcott for the first half since his pace keeps cole in check and he had a big impact pressing the reverse fixture lasts season. Even if park has good work rate, i dont think he will be used to the pace of the premier league and trackign back as much as needed for this particular game. Chelsea will exploit Djourou using cole,mata and anelka, so we need walcott there. I expect the same line up that played stoke. Would prefer park on the bench over chamakh as our crossing would never have enough quality to help chamakh beat terry and company who liek to sit deep. Thats just apart from the fact that park is brimmign with confidence at the moment. Preferred line up.
      Song – Arteta
      Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho
      Capt Vantastic

      Rosicky(if he’s injured then Chamakh, arsh as back up creative midfielder)

      Lets hope we get good news about Verminator soon.

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        Just found this
        If thast true, its tempting to move Kos to RB and put Verm on. Match fitness and sharpness may lack however. Just wfinished watchign the game and he was good for most part of the game except i think for the klasnic strike, he was near him but couldnt get the tackle. An in form verm would have done so. I would still gamble with him even if he’s not 100% in sharpness. Djourou is not the quickest and Kos will help nullify the threat on the left. Also big games need big players and Verm is our strongest i terms of characters, ahead of Van persie as well as schezzer .

  15. Mr. Prodg says:

    unfortunately, the gunners are not going anywhere this year

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      how right you are…a couple of weeks of bullshit talks about relegation.. we are are here to stay as one of the best clubs in the world and not going anywhere like the notts,villas,leeds’…

      Sure it’l’ be tough…but doubters like you cant stop the cream from rising to the top…its too early and i dont midn eating my words..but as long as the team keep their current work ethics..they will continue to play or loos. Also its the performance that counts…thats all the fans ask for …100% commitement

      • dfgdfgdfg says:

        Disagree, this is probably our easiest run of games of the season. Played a lot of poor sides, and mostly at home. Our away form is abysmal – 1 win in our last 11 Premier League away games. I’d like to see where we are at xmas after some much tougher games, mid-table I reckon.

  16. jasa ukir says:

    go arsenal go.. I hope the gunner alway win. I’m from Indonesia

  17. Paul Park says:

    Proud of my boy, Park. Keep scorin’

  18. VanTheManPersie says:

    agreed we played some poor teams. But blackburn were poor too and we couldnt even beat them so this is definitely an improvment (yeah it was away but still). Secondly, being in and around the top 6 till xmas, if that can happen, with reinforcements we can kick on to 3rd,4th. Of course its impossible to see us winning the league now as thats not just down to us makign the greatest come back ever but also down to very poor results for the rest which is not likely. But being 7th now, we can still be there and there abouts. BTW stoke is not a poor team . Yes they are more rugby and head tennis and less of a football team but by no means as poor as bolton or sunderland. And yes a lot more is required to convince not just us but the team themselves but nobody can deny that there is some degree of improvement. If we can turn relegation form to midtable form as you say, with a little bit of luck and the same work ethics can turn the same midtable form to top 4 candidates.

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