Sunday, January 17, 2010

Logic Takes Another Holiday: Bolton 0-2 Arsenal

A jittery clown in goals. Three-quarters of a functioning defence. One third of a midfield. No attack to speak of. And three more points.

Even by Arsenal standards, the injury situation is ludicrous. No sooner does Song depart for Africa, than Ramsey, Denilson and Nasri are all ruled out, leaving craig Eastmond to make his Premiership debut. Then again, there was a rather large ray of light in the shape of Fabregas' return, and it says a lot about the guy that even though he looked off the pace early on, it was his bit of class that turned a tricky game in our favour.

There were a few chunks of luck enjoyed on the way to what the scoreline suggests was a routine victory. Arsenal looked sloppy early in both halves, the debutant Eastmond and Traore particularly culpable, and Diaby reverting back to his familiar infuriating self. A powder-puff forward line, predictably, lacked presence. In the difficult spells, Bolton pressed and harried with a high tempo, and overall they were worth a goal. But Vermaelen and Gallas, god bless the fuckers, stood firm despite the trademark lack of steel in front of them.

In too many areas, it was a lacklustre performance. The difference was Fabregas. He does not have the physical force to dominate away games the way he can at the Emirates, but he still habitually comes up with match-changing moments. His one-two with Eduardo- who much like Arshavin is largely quiet but sprinkles the game with sporadic moments of quality- and precision finish was exemplary.

For a ten-minute period, Bolton settled for attempting to maim the main man, then Rosicky got booked for a bit of retaliation, and Bolton's fans began to bay for blood. After half-time, they seemed able to channel this aggression into positive play, and Arsenal creaked. Taylor should have equalised on more than one occasion, but when Bolton tired, things settled and sub Merida settled the game with a well-taken second.

Even Sky Sports' bone-headed pundits seem aware that Arsenal are papering over the cracks a little at the moment. We can dream of what may happen if all of our injured players returned and a full squad could be utilised for the last couple of months of the season, but that is to deal in hopeless hypotheticals, and the feeling persists that the season's ultimate success or failure rests on external solutions that the manager still seems reluctant to provide.

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