Date: 12th September 2010 at 5:51pm
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There was a time when the fancy dans of Arsenal, a team consisting of those well known softies Adams, Winterburn, Dixon and Keown, backed by the mad German Lehmann, hated playing Bolton. They didn’t like it up them, said the critics. And, time and again, Bolton stuck it up them. Reports of Bolton’s physical prowess outdoing Arsenal have always been grossly over exaggerated, for every Kevin Davies giving an Arsenal player a bloody nose, there is a Flamini trying to seperate the lower part of Ricardo Gardner’s leg from the rest of his body. And if Arsenal fans ever thought that the extent of Bolton’s game was to kick them out of it, then they forget things like Anelka’s goal the last time Bolton beat Arsenal, all those years ago.

That those days have long gone has been more down to the tactics of the former manager than Arsenal ‘refusing’ to be bullied anymore. With the change to ‘hold at the half way line’ this gave Arsenal the chance to do what they are good at, meaning that Arsenal no longer consider a game between the clubs with trepidation and now see it as eminently winnable.

Bolton can certainly feel aggrieved about yesterday’s result, a 4-1 scoreline that wouldn’t have happened if Gary ‘Gaz’ Cahill hadn’t been sent off, there can be little doubt. For all the noises coming out today about Bolton reverting to our old style, all you have to do is point to the foul count. No matter how bad the referee was, and for all St Owen Coyle’s talking Stuart Attwell up this morning he was appalling, when the foul count and yellow card count are perfectly equal it doesn’t exactly scream an inequality in nefariousness. But then a reputation that precedes you is hard to shake off.

Of the game itself, you can say that Arsenal, on chances, certainly deserved to win and probably would have been out of sight by the time The Misfiring Swede headed in Leeeee’s cross just before half time. Arshavin missed chances, one of them being well saved by Bogdan but Bolton fell behind to a cute Little Jack cross that found Fabregas on the edge of the box, a cut back and Koscielny was there to tap it in.

So far, so simple for Arsenal, who were the better team. Of Little Jack you can only say that he performed like he was playing Bolton, although SuperKev introduced him to the old adage “Friendship is friendship but business is business” early on and was rightly cautioned. By the time he was substituted on fifty nine minutes, I had forgotten he was playing.

It`s not to say that Bolton didn`t have chances, Elmander forcing a reflex save from Almunia and forcing Arsenal into fouls in their own half. When the goal game, it was route one effectiveness, or excellent long ball play depending on the team that is doing it. Bogdan played the ball, SuperKev headed it on, Koscielny flicked it on and Leee, rounding the keeper and keeping his head, laid it on a plate for TMS. The TMS of old would have headed it the wrong way, but this new and improved TMS completed the move. 1-1, half time, all good.

The early part of the second half was a pretty even affair until, after Bogdan had produced another good save, this time from Chamakh, Cahill and Steinsson played the old game of leaving the striker to the other player, Fabregas played the ball in and Chamakh scored.

Still, Bolton took the chance of taking the game to Arsenal until the mad thirty seconds that effectively ended the match as a competition. From the vantage point of my hooky internet, Leeeee befuddled Alex Song who clearly fouled him. Attwell, not keeping up with the play but having a clear sight of the incident waved play on, a quick ball up the line found Chamakh who cleverly played the ball both between his legs and under the advancing Gary Cahill. Cahill took Chamakh out and Attwell produced his red card.

Now, I have read words like “disgusting” “disgraceful” and “dangerous” to describe Cahill`s tackle and have also seen that he raked his studs down Chamakh`s leg, which just goes to prove that you can`t get decent internet connection in North London. Mistimed yes, stupid definitely. There was no need for Cahill to go in like that on Chamakh when he could have easily stood him up before or until he fed Arshavin who, on his overall performance, would have hit the stand anyway. At the time, on the hooky internet, I thought it was a yellow and in a way I still think it was a yellow. But, it has been shown that his feet left the ground and when you do that you are asking for trouble. Joe Cole did the same thing on opening weekend, ironically against Arsenal, and got sent off. So we can have no complaints about the red card and I would suggest to the club that they do not appeal it, because we will then be going down the frivolous route, and he`s already missing for Villa and Stretford.

It has been suggested in at least one paper today that Cahill was acting out of some sort of grievance that Leeee did not get the free kick all of five seconds earlier, despite the fact that he was at the other end of the pitch. I`m happy to say that Cahill isn`t one of “those sort of players” which can prove to be a load of pony when applied to Ryan Shawcross. It was mistimed, nothing more, and he was more than outdone by Chamakh`s bit of skill.

It became a cake walk then for Arsenal, and we don`t need to talk about that as this isn`t an Arsenal site. Both were good goals, but they would have scored them against other teams with ten men. AOB came on for The Crocked Bulgarian, anonymous again, to fill in the Cahill size hole in defence and eventually Matty and Grandad came on for Leeee and TMS. We hustled to the end but Arsenal were taking the mick by the time the game finished.

What we will talk about is two other incidents that took place during the game. First of all there is the alleged aerial assault on Koscielny. The ball went up in the air, Koscielny headed it away and a split second later SuperKev put the nut on him. A clash of heads ensued that I could hear on the internet commentary, which for some bizarre reason was doing West Brom – Spurs. People are talking as if SuperKev was going all out to deliberately injure the Arsenal player. If you look at the video you can see that for the whole time the captain`s eye was on the ball, he went for the header in an attempt to win the ball and his head comes back like he thinks he`s going to win it. He didn`t, fair enough and a free kick should have been given. But I swear, there are times you think that Arsenal fans would rather we had the Boston Strangler up front. It was an honest attempt to win the ball, which is what a centre forward is there to do.

As for Robinson`s challenge on Diaby, all day long this was a sending off. We can all bleat about Diaby`s challenge at T`Reebok two years ago, but that was two years ago, not yesterday. Just because Diaby got away with it that time does not excuse Robinson`s challenge. I just have no idea what he was attempting, as it would have been easier to have just kicked the ball.

This site, in both this and its earlier incarnation, has long said that Robinson is not a Premier League player and yesterday exposed his deficiencies once more. If there had been a better referee in charge we could have been down to nine men and then you can bet the score wouldn`t have been 4-1. This of course suggests that a better referee wouldn`t have given the Leeee foul or sent off Cahill, but I hate dwelling on things like that too much. Gives me a migraine.

We are in a spot of bother now, with one of our first choice central defenders and our goalkeeper out for the Villa game. Cahill will also miss United at home. Somewhere along the line, we stopped being the ones who bullied Arsenal and became bullied ourselves. That doesn`t look like changing any time soon.


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