Gunners race clear of Bolton
By Andrew Scurr
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsenal came from a goal down to defeat Bolton 2-1 in the battle of fourth versus fifth.
Arsenal came from an early goal down to defeat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the battle of fourth versus fifth in the Premiership.
Sam Allardyce's side trailed The Gunners by just two points coming into the game, and looked like possibly getting something from the match when Nicolas Anelka finished from close range.
But Arsenal enjoyed the better of the chances throughout and Tomas Rosicky pounced to level and Cesc Fabregas scored what turned out to be the winner just after half-time.
The result leaves Arsene Wenger's men in pole position to grab the final UEFA Champions League spot by opening a five-point gap on their opponents.
El Hadji Diouf sent an early shot well off target, but the game could not have started better for Bolton as with their next attack, former Gunner Anelka fired Bolton into an 11th minute lead.
Nicky Hunt's deep free-kick came all the way through to Kevin Nolan whose header had to be dealt with by Jens Lehmann, however he could only parry the ball out to Anelka and the Frenchman fired home from six yards out, beating William Gallas on the line.
From that point on, Arsenal dominated the half, with Rosicky the first of many to go close with a shot from distance which went over the top of Jussi Jaaskelainen's goal.
Jaaskelainen was soon into the action and made a great save from Emmanuel Adebayor with his feet after the Togolese international was fed in by Ljungberg. Moments later Ljungberg narrowly missed with a free-kick that curled just over.
Two rare forays forward for Bolton saw Anelka run at Arsenal's backline and shoot across goal before his ball was headed into the danger zone by Kevin Davies and had to be defended well by Gallas under pressure from Nolan.
Rosicky was a yard off target with his shot and Fabregas' teasing cross was about the same distance away from meeting Ljungberg's outstretched leg soon after.
Kolo Toure's powerful drive from distance forced a strong save from Jaaskelainen, and the pressure got too much for Hunt just past the half-hour mark as his mistake let in Rosicky.
Adebayor's dinked cross looked like being dealt with comfortably by the Bolton right-back at the far post, but he seemingly got caught in two minds, allowing Rosicky to pounce and beat Jaaskelainen from close in.
Anelka continued to work hard on his own up front for The Trotters but he shot wide, while at the other end Jaaskelainen was called upon to make another firm stop from Toure and Ljungberg dragged a shot wide as Bolton were holding on for half-time.
Allardyce will have wanted his side to keep it tight at the start of the second half, but his plan went out of the window seconds after the restart.
Gilberto's perfect through ball carved Bolton open and after making Abdoulaye Meite miss his tackle on the edge of the area, Fabregas composed himself before calmly dispatching into the corner of Jaaskelainen's goal.
Alexander Hleb's left-footed shot rolled just the wrong side of the post and Campo's drive from a difficult angle never looked like troubling Lehmann.
Abou Diaby could have put the game out of Bolton's reach with 20 minutes remaining when picked out by Adebayor, but unmarked the Arsenal substitute sent his header wide from the centre of goal.
Bolton's task was made harder on 82 minutes as Campo was shown his second yellow card by referee Rob Styles for a foul on Rosicky in the middle of the park.
Diaby fired a shot from the edge of the area wide and then wasted another glorious chance having fought off Julio Baptista to go through one-on-one with Jaaskelainen, but the Finn was up to the test as he made a fairly routine stop.
Bolton went straight up the other end and had strong appeals for a penalty when Emmanuel Eboue appeared to handle in his own box, but referee Styles was unmoved as he rebuffed the claims.
Baptista blazed over late in the game as Arsenal held on to take a comfortable advantage in the race for fourth spot in the Premiership and the last Champions League place.
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|Arsenal||Team Name||Bolton Wanderers|
|7||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||2|
|10||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||4|
|6||Total Fouls Conceded||18|