Bolton 2 v Arsenal 1

Two corners, two goals conceded and too bad for Arsenal’s title challenge. The mis-firing Gunners are out of the Premiership title race and have only themselves to blame. Three minutes after the break, Robin Van Persie levelled Daniel Sturridge’s 38th minute opener for Bolton, but just when overwhelming possession suggested that Arsenal would net a second, substitute Tamir Cohen popped up to head in the winner for Bolton to deliver the mortal blow to Arsene Wenger’s side.


Animated and agitated on the touchline, Wenger looked on, a desperate character and someone who knows that his big experiment to cultivate talent to challenge for the big prizes and on a budget, has flopped again after coming so tantalisingly close to bearing fruit. Had Wenger bought a central defender of the class of Gary Cahill, then it would be difficult to see the Gunners bottle it from set pieces as they did at the Reebock Stadium.


Wojciech Szczesny’s stock however seems to grow and grow.The Poland keeper made some fine saves and saved Kevin Davies’spot kick after Johan Djourou was harshly adjudged to have brought down Sturridge. The strong physical stuff has always been a halmark of Bolton’s game,but for once Djourou was found lacking for the fight. The opening statistics showed Arsenal had over 70 per cent of the play – nothing new there, but could not respond after a confused Arsenal defence let Sturridge head in after Cahill’s header was blocked on the line by Nasri.


Walcott threatned to undo the Bolton rearguard, with Fabregas going close twice with one effort hitting the post. When Szczesny saved from the spot, Van Persie levelled after some neat build up play, a fine goal and his 21st of the season. Under continious pressure, Bolton then sat back and defended for their lives. Samir Nasri has not been the same player since rumours over his contract and interest from Spain and Italy emerged. He missed two excellent chances to give Arsenal the lead, and will particularly wonder how having been put in by Van Persie, he could only hit his shot at Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The pressure mounted as Jack Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri and Van Persie tried to carve out further chances. On came Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshvain, but Bolton held firm. Then on 90- minutes,heartbreak for the Gunners. Djourou missed Cohen’s run and the ball was headed into the Arsenal net.


Wenger has to now spend if he wants to keep this side together, and he must accept that the Arsenal fans, although still behind him, must now see silverware and quickly. Easier said then done, but Wenger has refused to buy, even when the money has been available. More of the same again, and there could be serious repercussions at the Emirates.