It was a cold day in the journey to the ground yesterday and a long and arduous journey. The tubes decided to skip Arsenal station and of course Holloway Road (well for some selected trains, one of which I happened to be on)… but there was a certain buzz around the supporters – a certain feeling of excitement as everyone knew of course that if we did win and win by two clear goals, we’d reach the summit of the league for the first time since August.
You could hear the conversations – “Denilson should go straight back in… he’ll need the match practice – play Eastmond in the cup!” – “Arshavin should be rested, give Vela a chance”, “Walcott shouldn’t start – he’ll get battered by Bolton”. It’s a part of match day that I love.
The team news was announced, exactly as we all thought – our first choice back five for the first time in a long time. Two of our first choice middle three in Cesc and Diaby and of course Denilson restored to the line up. Arshavin, Eduardo and Rosicky made up the rest. It was a strong line up. And it was all about this game, not worrying about the next.
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Denilson – Diaby
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
We had Theo on the bench for the first time in ages, and Vela, and Eastmond and of course Traore if Clichy got tired. All guns blazing, time to get the game on…
But to my shock, could you believe it, within the first 10 mins, we were 1-0 down. A defensive mistake I would say and Cahill was free to score in the box. And then suddenly it was 2-0 to Bolton – Clichy failing to clear well, and Denilson bringing the man down. Almunia nearly got to it, but Taylor slotted it away from the spot.
We looked around at each other in a state of disbelief and so did the Arsenal players. But our captain marvel Cesc was calm and despite being fouled every 5 minutes for the whole game, he gave a lift to the team by his never give up attitude and with about 5 minutes to go, a moment of magic from our oldest outfield player in Rosicky – showing us what he’s made of and adding another goal to him impressive goal / minutes on the pitch ratio.
We all knew if we could get one back before half time, we could go on and win it! And that’s exactly what we did.
Five minutes into the second half and a bit of controversy as Gallas wins the ball illegally in midfield and then the ball bobbles to Cesc – the best player in the league at the moment – and he evades about three challenges before slotting the ball into the back of the net – from an incredibly tight angle.
The foul on Davies from Gallas was a foul, but the referee didn’t blow for it and we continued. We’re a pretty nice team when it comes to kicking the ball out, but Bolton had been time wasting so badly during the first half, that we honesty all thought it was another time wasting attempt – it turned out to be more serious, but there’s nothing we can do about that now.
At 2-2, you kind of knew there was only going to be one winner and our other ball playing centre half scored his seventh of the season. The ball bobbled around the Bolton area and Thomas Vermaelen was at hand to slot the ball home. Awesome stuff. At 3-2, the game was still to be played, Bolton could equalise and we wanted the 4th.
And there was one man at hand to give us the fourth, in our diminutive Russian, Andrei Arshavin, a nice bit of foot trickery and finish from close range. You sense we have a few players in Rosicky, Arshavin and Cesc who can score out of nothing.
At 4-2 we had chances to score, and it really should have been 5-2 if Arshavin had squared to the returning Walcott. All in all, a good day to be at the ground, a nervy one at that too.
We’re top of the league and we’ll stay there until midweek next week at least!
Bad news today too as it was confirmed that Gibbs is out for the rest of the season. He was doing so well, I just hope he recovers and can get back to his best.
Adios for now.