So I just finished watching what was one of the most exciting Bolton games this season. It had it all, off the pitch drama in the form of Owen Coyle's first game back at the Reebok, and the game itself was a good one, flowing football from both sides, nice passing, great flicks. I must say I almost destroyed my bottom lip from biting it so hard, and it was one of the slowest games I've ever watched. The minutes positively crawled.
Bolton started the game strong, surging forward in what turned out too be a fairly convincing attack in the first minute, however after about 10 minutes of back and forth the game settled in Arsenal's favor. They gained possession, but made no real attacks until Fabregas' goal in the 28th minute, while Bolton continued to have brief spells of attack, intercepting the ball from some sloppy Arsenal play. Bolton defended quite well (this is compared to how they usually defend, admittedly not a high standard) the first defensive mistake they made led to the goal. Steinsson, who had a good overall game, failed to clear the ball, and it fell to Fabregas, Arsenal's most dangerous player.
And that is what was the difference between the two teams, Bolton made more and higher quality chances in the first half, but didn't take them, and Arsenal had one chance, off a horrid Bolton mistake, and they took it. I went into half time incredibly nervy, but quite pleased with our performance, afterall I have seen Arsenal absolutely boss games this season and they certainly weren't bossing a hopeful and spirited Bolton team.
Owen Coyle clearly gave a good talk at half time (something I suspect Megson was incapable of) and the Wanderers came out fighting with two attacks in the first two minutes. And this was not Megson's Bolton, who kept at least 3 players in their own half at all times, this was a Bolton where the whole team was coming forward, making runs, and creating options. This was a Bolton whose midfield was arguably on top. Arsenal's midfield got sloppy and found that speeding Bolton players (now how often do you hear those three words?) were taking the ball right from their feet. This changed to an extent when Merida came on in the 63rd minute. Merida is a slippery young player with speed to spare and I said to my dad that he was dangerous when he came on. Low and behold he scores 15 minutes later.
This was a good performance by Bolton, they played some nice football, they just need get back to scoring. They made Arsenal look foolish at bits of the game and actually defended quite well (apart from the two goals obviously). Zat Knight, I must admit, is actually quite good at what he does, which is defend, he may be crap at going forward, but I've decided (yes, after all my bitching) that he's a good partner for Cahill. I think the scoreline is incredibly flattering to Arsenal and it could've easily been 2 all.
If Bolton keep playing like that we will stay up no problem. I saw the team that I knew was there today. the team Megson couldn't inspire. I'm disappointed that we didn't score any, we certainly deserved to, but it is completely the fault of Bolton players for lacking the finish. Now all we need to do is refine that and in three days time it might be a very different game indeed.