The first round of fixtures saw us at the top of the table with joint best goal difference in the league. 5 games later, we're bottom with only 3 points and the worst goal difference in the league by 3 goals. There is no doubt that this is a trying time to be a Bolton fan, but when we saw the fixture list we knew it would be. The truly disappointing part is not the results themselves, but the manner in which we've gotten them. Today at least we had a decent period before capitulation, but for most of the season, we've looked less like a team and more like a loose mob. To be fair, I didn't expect us to have many more point than we do now, although I did expect us to get some off Norwich, but to lose like we have is really disheartening. Before I dissect this too much though, onto the match at hand.
Bolton started the game brightly, something that we haven't been able to write much of late. Just over two minutes in, Pratley forced Szczesny into a one-handed save, which would end up being the best chance in an otherwise uneventful first half. While Arsenal had the majority of the possession at 63%, they never looked like they were going to do much with it. And credit must go to Bolton for this, because in spite of having the much maligned Zat Knight and the largely un-tested David Wheater at the center of the defense, Bolton absorbed this pressure well. The occasional attack didn't look too bad either and had Ngog not unfortunately caught a knock in the 20th minute and been replaced by Kevin Davies, the game may have been different. The half ended with a pretty fair 0-0.
Whatever Wenger said at halftime must've been effective, as Van Persie scored just 40 second after the restart.He picked it up at the edge of the box, easily ran around his marker Muamba, and slotted it past Jussi at the near post. Bolton's fate was seemingly sealed 10 minutes later, when Wheats received a straight red for holding Walcott's shirt on a goal scoring opportunity. Any sign of a football team was lost after that. In the 70th minute Van Persie completed his brace and scored his 100th goal for Arsenal, tapping the ball in with the outside of his left foot. Because 3-0 just sounds so much better than 3-0, Alex Song wrapped up the game with a powerful strike.
It was a second half to forget for Wanderers fans. Conceding a goal and receiving a red inside 10 minutes proved to be too much, and the team lost all shape and belief in spite of a good first half. We may have had a good midweek result, but this is still a fragile team. The return of Stu Holden made a huge difference, but even when he does have the fitness to play every match, relying on one player is not healthy for the team. As has been pointed out, up is the only way we can go from here, Owen Coyle just has to figure out how.