Bolton 1 – 3 Arsenal: We are top of the league, say we are top of the league…

I've waited to write the blog today until after the Chelsea vs United game so I could review the weekend of football in total.

Before I start, I've just watched the video about the new version of Football Manager, it's pretty amazing. The major new feature is the 3D match engine which allows you to watch the game if it was on TV. You can see the moment of the players, their runs, their shots and the goals. It's pretty awesome stuff. Check out the video below...

Bolton 1 – 3 Arsenal

Davies 14, Eboue 26, Bendtner 27, Denilson 87

Yesterday’s performance was a strong show of character. It was a busy week with an away game at Blackburn last week and a tough mid week game against Dynamo Kyiv. A lot of travelling and a lot of football and Bolton away was a real test. A test that became harder when we went 1 – 0 behind to a Kevin Davies standing header from a rare first half Bolton corner. It was a strange time to go behind and reminiscent of previous encounters up north. We were on top and had started well, carving our way through the Bolton defence, seemingly a little shot shy though.

The line up saw Theo Walcott and Robin Van Persie rested and Niklas Bendtner and Eboue come in. The midfield four of Cesc, Song, Denilson and Eboue did move around a lot with all four players appearing all over the pitch, but Denilson and Eboue played mostly on the wings with Cesc and Song in the middle.

The play (goal aside) was pretty good and it looked like a game that we could win. Bolton only threat was the long ball, and Toure wasn’t convincing in the battle with Davies and the goal came in a Davies vs Toure challenge, which Davies won and Clichy (on the line) couldn’t clear. The good thing was that we didn’t panic and continued to ply the Bolton defence open. Toure had a real chance to equalise shortly after when the ball bounced nicely to him outside the area, but he smashed it wide. We were starting to turn the grind and Ade hit the post twice and Song hit the post once – was it going to be one of those days? Not if we could help it…

The equaliser came on the 26th play when intricite play from Bendtner saw Eboue slid the ball under the keeper. It was about half a foot off side but very hard to see from the assistant.

Within a minute or so, we we ahead as some excellent play put Denilson down the left who showed a burst of pace and crossed low. Bendtner, behind two defenders one moment, ran to the near post and slid the ball past the keeper. A good goal and into the lead.

We were in domination of the remainder of the half and the half ended with a really nasty challenge on Clichy by Kevin Davies. The player should have been sent off. It was pretty awful.

Clichy was substituted at half time and we next saw him out in crutches.

The second was better from Bolton, but it was a game were we seemed confident and resolute in defence. Song playing well in front of the back four and a very positive sign. Bolton’s half time talk was obviously “cross it as much as you can” and that’s exactly what they did.

A few ahs and ohs, nearly chances, but the introduction of Theo Walcott gave us the impetus and it was an amazing run from Theo that led to the third goal. Seemingly determined to take on the whole Bolton defence, our young Englishman drove through the heart of the pitch from literally the half way line. Releasing to Ade just in time, who squared to the oncoming Denilson.

The game ended 3-1 and it was a thoroughly deserved victory.

The manager spoke after the game:

“It was a convincing, united and classy performance. We were strong everywhere a team can be strong that means physically and technically. Even in the second half when we needed to defend we showed the resilient aspects of our game. That makes me think we are maturing very quickly. I believe that the attitude of this team is right.”

Arsene also spoke about the challenge on Clichy:

“You will smile but I did not really see the impact of the challenge. Gael was in front of me but I watched the ball as it went back to William Gallas. There was 30 seconds to go I said to Gael let’s keep the ball. I need to see it on the video again. It was a shin injury. That proves that the tackle was quite high. Was it an accident? Only Davies can answer that.”

In the other games, Chelsea and United drew 1 – 1 which means that we’re officially top of the league. With Sp*rs being held 0-0 at home to Wigan, we’re top and Sp*rs are bottom. Brilliant.

Football Manager Video:

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  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog Kieran Delaney

    < ![CDATA[It's not often I'm organised enough to blog first, comment later!

    Arsenal showed a great deal of promise - there are still a few players short of full gear, RVP, Adebayor (will he ever get there though?), Fabregas - I'm really optimistic about Arsenals chances this season purely based on our performances when not performing at the top of our game. Contrast that to ManUre who are only ticking over but nowhere near the pack yet.

    Song has been something of a revelation.

    Anyone else watch the match on Sentanta? What were the commentators on about? Arsene Weneger significantly weakening the team?

    Two changes wouldn’t normally be considered a major weakening as suggested, especially when you consider we changed a 19 year old boy for a player with 110 first team appearances and Champions League final experience who’s still only 24, the other change being RVP replaced by Nik Bendtner – Bendtner scored 4 in his previous six starts (5 in 7 now!) so again not really much of a weakening gesture. Chelsea call it squad rotation, but I suspect the mainstream media are still labouring under the misapprehension that Arsenal have a tiny squad. Its not that bad fellas!]]>

  • Borris

    < ![CDATA[great dismay and frustration of most bloggers and commentators it would seem) because he felt that he had the squad he needed.

    My guess (and of course it is never more than that) is that the plan was to play Diaby next to Fabregas, and allow Cesc to move forward looking to score. But the early injury to Diaby and the unavailability of Bischoff meant that the system that had worked so well between Flamini and Fabregas had to be changed.

    Enter Denilson, and we return to a modified version of the Gilberto approach - the invisible wall mark II.

    Which raises these questions:

    a) When Rosicky finally returns to fitness does he return to the wing where Nasri has been playing?

    b) If Rosicky, Nasri, Diaby, Denilson, and Bischoff were all fit, who would play next to Cesc?

    c) Is Ramsey ready for more of a place in the team yet, or is he just going to get emergency back-up and short fill-in jobs this year?

    d) Do we need to sign a new midfielder?

    The last one is, for me, the easiest to answer - absolutely not. I know I am out of phase with the vast majority of commentators on this, but I kept arguing the position through the summer and it still looks that way to me. If you say, “Flamini did x and we have no one to do x” then of course you need a new midfielder. But to me, and it is just a personal view, that is not how Wenger thinks, and it is not the right way to think.

    Players are individual, and have individual strengths. You have Ian Wright in the team, and you play to his strengths - down the middle. You have Henry in the team and you know he goes left, so you buy a right footed left winger who can score (Pires) and tell him to run into the middle when Henry goes out to the left.

    So to my mind Wenger was never going to replace Flamini with Flamini II, he was looking around at what he had and who was available, and then thinking, how can I change this to accommodate everyone in a winning formula.

    And to answer an earlier question - if Denilson and Cesc continue to develop as a pair, and the team continue to win, then that’s the pairing, and Diaby and others will lose out.

    One final thing - the strength among the younger players is now so great that every year we automatically have a couple of signings - players who break through. I suspect by this time next year Ramsey and Wilshere will be more fully integrated into the first team and there will be others moving up. The signings are done - it is just the press doesn’t notice them until they come out with all the old phrases about the “Wenger production line” when we play in the Little Cup - as we do tomorrow - and “Arsenal are broke” during the transfer windows when we don’t sign anyone.

    The truth of this final point is that the spivs own Manchester U, Chelsea and Liverpool, but they don’t own Arsenal.]]>

  • http://www.chrisbishop.co.uk/2008/09/sissy-moany-arsenal-football-club.html Chris Bishop

    < ![CDATA[Sissy moany Arsenal!

    Completely disagree with you - hats off to Arsenal for playing the way they do however, this is a competitive league!

    It was a fair well played tackle and the poor lad got a bruse! FFS its a bruise!

    Awwwww no doubt Arsene kissed it better!]]>