Arsenal 3-0 Bolton Wanderers: A Functional, Drama-Free Win

Given the degree of difficulty that our next several fixtures looks to pose for us (Olympiacos aside - we should batter them if any kind of normal service has truly resumed), a perfunctory win by several clear goals was exactly what this Arsenal team needed in order to come into that run of games with some semblance of momentum. In that respect, job well and truly done.

Bolton Wanderers are a side who have had struggles of their own this season, much of which is in the same vein as ours - Gary Cahill's ongoing transfer saga, missing key players like Stuart Holden, a dreadful early fixture list leading to several losses on the trot, etc. Holden and Cahill ended up missing this game due to illness, and long-time Arsenal tormentor Kevin Davies started on the bench. It is unfortunate for them, but we'll take any scraps that fortune sends our way just about now, thanks.

For us, the usual back five started with Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey in front of them. The front midfield three were Gervinho, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott, with Robin van Persie leading the line as usual. It looked like a strong enough lineup to get the job done, but how different things could have been were it not for the ongoing heroics of Wojceich Szczesny.

As early as the second minute, Bolton were presented with a chance from a set piece. It was whipped in towards the completely unmarked Darren Pratley. He connected solidly with his header, and it looked for all the world to be heading for the far corner. Fortunately for us, Szczesny flung himself across the face of goal at full stetch, and just had enough wingspan to claw the shot away. Had we gone down 0-1 in the second minute, it is entirely reasonable to assume that we may have fallen to pieces again.

Once again, Szczesny has proven to be one of the key pieces of this squad.

With the customary early jitters out of the way, Arsenal began to seize possession and momentum. Arteta - who is quickly bedding into this squad and this playing style - found Gervinho with a through-ball that eviscerated the Bolton backline. Gervinho was in alone and frankly should have scored. Sadly, his second touch had the grace and delicacy of a ballet-dancing elephant, and it bobbled into the grateful arms of Jussi Jaaskelainen.

PLEASE NOTE: I had a whole rest of a blog post here, and Blogger ate it. I got a 404 Error when I tried to publish it, and apparently none of the other drafts after this point actually saved. Thank you very much for wasting 40 minutes of my life, Blogger. Much obliged.

Anyway, since I already wrote this once and kind of don't have the time (I'm at work) or inclination to do so again, bullet points the rest of the way!

- RVP got two goals, as you know taking him up to 100 with the club. I was actually kind of stunned to read that he's not that away from tying the great Dennis Bergkamp's figure with the club. Wikipedia tells me it's 120, but I always figured it was something around 11,542. Anyway, the first was off of a great pass by Ramsey (who quietly had a storming game). He went wide, and slammed in a low near-post finish. It was a nice shot, but Jaaskelainen had his angle wrong and probably should have done better. The second was much later in the second half, again on a move started by Ramsey. The Welshman found a streaking Theo Walcott on the right wing. Walcott's low cross was deftly flicked in by the Dutch hitman to ease any remaining tension on the day.

- The erstwhile captain also showed some on-pitch leadership for once, squaring up to Paul Robinson and the rest of the mutants on the Bolton back line when they tried to intimidate him. Good for you, Robin. I just wish it didn't take ages for the rest of your teammates to back you up.

- Bolton got an extremely harsh red card for a last-man foul on David Wheater. Personally, I thought it was a risible dive from Walcott, but I acknowledge that there's a chance of there being one of those sly shirt-pulls out of the camera's view that center-halves are so proficient at. Either way, Walcott went down very easily.

- Jaaskelainen made up for the first goal with a string of decent saves, although most of them were of the fairly comfortable variety.

- Walcott should have made it 3-0 when he was in completely alone. He either could have come in closer and picked his shot, or tried to round Jaaskelainen. Instead, he hit a brain-dead early shot that went right into the body of the Finnish netminder. It may be churlish to say so when we were already winning 2-0 at the time, but it was an appalling effort.

- That said, I hope his hamstring injury that he picked up right before the final whistle isn't too serious. We need all the squad depth we can get at the moment.

- We did make it 3-0 shortly before Walcott's injury. Sagna's cross eluded red and white shirts alike, but found its way to Song on the edge of the area. He took one touched and hit an absolutely gorgeous curler into the top corner. No one on Earth was stopping that shot, and it added some much-needed gloss to the scoreline.

- Arshavin, Rosicky and Chamakh came on as subs, but the game was already in the bag and none made that much of an impact.

So was nice to entertain a bottom-dwelling club and see them off with a minimum of fuss. More of the same, please!

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szczesny 7, Gibbs 7, Mertesacker 7, Koscielny 7, Sagna 7, Gervinho 6 (Arshavin 6), Arteta 7 (Rosicky N/A), Song 7, Ramsey 8, Walcott 7, van Persie 9

Man of the Match: Robin van Persie