Arsenal continued on their quest for Carling Cup success with a 2-1 comeback victory over Bolton Wanderers last night. The match saw the welcome return of Thomas Vermaelen from injury as Arsene Wenger made 11 changes to the team that defeated Sunderland at the weekend, providing reserve team regulars such as Ignasi Miquel and Nico Yennaris with the opportunity to prove they can perform at this level as well as offering the likes of Oxlade-Chamblerlain, Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong the chance to enhance their burgeoning reputations further; while Ju Young Park was given the responsibility of the lone striker role.
Although Arsenal started brightly, with Oxlade-Chamberlain squandering an opportunity to give the gunners an early lead, following a wonderful pass from Frimpong, it was Bolton who seemed to pose more of an attacking threat in the first half mostly through the impressive Gael Kakuta. However Lukas Fabianski essentially only had to pull off one good save to deny Darren Pratley while Adam Bogdan, in the
Bolton goal, twice saved well from Park.
While Oxlade-Chamberlain was rather quiet and did not seem able to impose himself on the game, Yennaris proved he has the ability to eventually break into the first team with an accomplished performance. Coquelin and Frimpong also worked tirelessly in the centre of the park, with Frimpong in particular using his strength to great effect, winning the ball back on numerous occasions, although his concentration must improve as he was dispossessed a few times on the edge of the Arsenal box, one such incident resulting in Bolton taking the lead through Fabrice Muamba at the start of the second half.
While lesser teams may have crumbled, Arsenal showed tremendous strength of character to not only come back into the game, but take control of it too. The previously ineffectual Arshavin was suddenly roused into action, powering forward at every opportunity, striking fear into the
Bolton defence. It was this feeling of trepidation which led them to stand off Arshavin in the 53rd minute and he duly made them pay, slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner to bring Arsenal right back into the contest. Three minutes later and Arsenal were ahead through a wonderful curled strike from Park, following another great run by Arshavin, driving forward, at the heart of the Bolton backline, before setting Park up with a perfectly weighted pass. Bolton would threaten the Arsenal goal again but a combination of good goalkeeping and luck, when Fabianski’s attempted save saw the ball squirm out of his hands and sail just over the bar, as the gunners progressed into the quarter finals.
This result will fill Arsenal fans with great optimism as it not only highlighted the fact we have a strong squad that has the quality to overcome those inevitable suspensions and injuries which affect every team but also extended our recent run of improved results. Saturday’s trip to
will, however, prove a must sterner test. A positive result here would really galvanise the whole club and confirm our recovery from that horrendous start. Stamford Bridge