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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Arsenal (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Thursday 2nd February 2012
Both sides were left ruing not taking all three points from an entertaining 0-0 stalemate at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Seemingly frozen solid by the bitter cold conditions the hosts struggled to get going in a first half dominated by Arsenal. But a spirited, hard-fought display saw Bolton come close to pulling off an upset as they took control of the second period.

Arsenal were guilty of wasting a host of gilt-edged opportunities, led by erratic winger Theo Walcott, who proved why Arsene Wenger does not buy into the player's own theory that he is a striker. Walcott missed probably the best chance of the match when, presented with a one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Adam Bogdan by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he lost all composure and shot straight at the keeper. Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looks a better bet for the England team than his more esteemed fellow winger, and free-scoring Robin van Persie also missed great goalscoring opportunities and the visitors should have had the game wrapped up by half-time.

The onslaught continued after the break. The impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a 30-yard shot narrowly over the bar, while van Persie was twice denied by the woodwork. The Dutchman first saw a goal-bound attempt hit the Bolton post and then a brilliant, inventive, delicate lob was only denied by the top of the crossbar - from which Walcott was again wasteful as he followed up.

Bolton did well to ride the wave of Arsenal attacks and the visitors' threat slowly waned as the game wore on. Indeed, the last ten minutes of the match saw Bolton nearly steal it, but a Gretar Steinsson miss, a lack of composure from David Ngog, and lack of sight from the referee, who failed to award a clear penalty from a foul on Mark Davies at the death, denied the unlikely home win.

In reflection Bolton probably deserved a point for their dogged display, but there's no denying Arsenal should have had this match comfortably won in the first half. The single point each sees Bolton edge 2 points clear from the relegation zone, but leaves Arsenal stranded outside European qualification in 7th place - some 5 points behind Chelsea in the final Champions League spot.

Bolton can take great heart from another top performance against one of the 'Big 4/6', following their 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the previous league match. Having been literally ripped apart by all the big teams during an horrendous opening to the season, Owen Coyle seems to have his team playing with more grit, determination and fight and they actually look like they can defend. Indeed,  Wanderers haven't lost since Gary Cahill - supposedly their best defender - departed the club for Chelsea in January.

As for Arsenal, their supporters aren't happy at the best of times, but if the club don't even reach Europe, as is currently a real possibility, then they certainly are right to be angry. Wenger didn't act during the transfer window despite it being blindingly obvious that the side lacks defensive strength, leadership and any sort of goal threat should they be without the services of van Persie. The Gunners' only first-team signing in January - the pointless two-month loan of past-it, semi-retired 'soccer star' Thierry Henry - is, frankly, a joke which serves as no more than a light relief for Wenger, against whom supporter angst is building.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan; Steinsson, Knight, Wheater, Muamba; Eagles, M Davies, Reo-Coker (Pratley 89), Muamba, Petrov (Tuncay 81); Ngog (K Davies 74). Unused subs: Jaaskalainen, Boyata, Riley, Klasnic.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Walcott, Ramsey (Rosicky 80), Song, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Henry 69); van Persie. Unused subs: Fabianski, Arshavin, Benayoun, Coquelin, Park.

Total articles: 69

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