Arsenal 4-2 Bolton Wanderers, part 1

=== Let's!  Go To!  the Vid E O Tape! ===

OBF asked where he could check highlights from the Arsenal-Bolton game.  Nay verily, on Arsenal's or the Barclay's site.  They charge for everything up to and including a vid replay.  :- )

Fortunately on Fox Soccer Channel they run Sky Sports News about twice a day, this being the British version of SportsCenter, as well as a couple of different American reviews of Premier League play.  Surf the Comcast menu a bit and you'll be able to DVR two-three minutes' worth of game footage, mate.


=== Bolton Physical Early ===

OBF wondered if Arsenal came out sluggish.  You'd have thought, to read the box, but that wasn't actually the case...

Bolton hired George Clooney-lookalike, local legend Owen Coyle, to lead them out of relegation, and Coyle's first two games were (gulp) an Arsenal home-and-away. 

Bolton were amp'ed up for both games, tearing around the pitch like madmen, throwing themselves horizontally for headers, and let's not forget that Bolton is a storied English team as well...

As Wenger conceded later, Bolton are also the most physical team in the EPL.  In soccer, this means that when the two of you are going for a loose ball, you're going to catch elbows and shoulders and knees, get your foot stepped on ... think basketball under the rim, rebounding against the biggest, dirtiest team in the NBA.  :- )  On headers, the Wanderers will jump into you rather than into the ball, and if you shy away, the ball goes over the top of you, job done.

Arsenal are the opposite of this, a "turf team" in NFL parlance, based on speed, grace, and not much beef.  They'd like to play a pure no-contact game, with their little 165-lb. wingers and midfielders, but the beefy teams of course are trying to lure the Gunners into a wrestling match.


=== Bolton Take the Lead ===

(English convention is to read "Bolton" as "the Bolton players" when matching verb number.)

Both teams went at each other early, with Arsenal enjoying its usual 65-35 possession advantage.  In fact they got three scoring opportunities in the first five minutes, but all shots went directly at the Bolton keeper.

Bolton continued to bang away for each loose ball, and IIRC the critical exchange took place around the 23-minute mark.

In Arsenal's goal box, three or four headers bounced high into the air in succession, as if fans were playing with a beach ball at an MLB game.  You'll remember that headers are an Arsenal Achilles' heel, as the Gunners players are shorter, lighter, and faster than their opponents.

Arsenal could not contest the headers as well as they'd liked.  This did not result in Bolton control, but it did result in chaos as the ball bobbed high in the air again and again... finally it came down to the foot of Arsenal superstar "cover cornerback" left defender Gael Clichy who, in his first game back, tried to bicycle-kick the ball out to midfield.

Whoops!  The ball went directly up, and when it came down it was directly onto the foot of Bolton star Gary Cahill, who had a clear, one-touch left footer from 12 yards out.  He did not miss, and amazingly it was 1-0 Bolton.


continued part 2


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