Arsenal Denied In Chance To Take Advantage Of Others Failings
Bolton Wanderers 0 – 0 Arsenal
Arsenal halted their recent torpid run of results in the Premier League with a point that brought them no closer to the top four but bucked the recent trend of making it further away. Newcastle leapfrogged into fifth but such is the fluidity of the current season, by 3pm on Saturday that could all be changed.
The result builds on the win over Aston Villa, 135 minutes have passed since the ball beat an Arsenal goalkeeper and finished in the net. Ngog did steer a shot past Szczesny last night but its trajectory took it the right side of the post to deprive Bolton of an undeserved win. It was a familiar story to the season; plenty of spurned chances, almost succumbing to a sucker punch. Arsène encapsulated the night post-match,
We feel we have dropped two points because we had chances to win the game. But we produced a decent game against a difficult opponent who gives you the ball, marks tight and waits for their chance. We took all of the risks and we were a bit unlucky as well because we hit the bar, the post and missed some great chances. In the end we took a gamble to play four strikers and we nearly got caught in the last five minutes from a Bolton chance.
The lack of goals last night is not through lack of effort. van Persie caused the woodwork to shudder twice, Walcott found his lack of composure detrimental, a flaw in his game that he needs to eradicate if his oft-stated desire to play centrally is ever to be realised. I understand the concern that when van Persie does not score, neither do Arsenal. Whilst not entirely true, it is disturbing that in only three Premier League games this season has the Dutchman’s tally in ninety minutes been exceeded by the combined total of his team-mates. As much as the failure to keep clean sheets, this is a fundamental reason for the season’s travails.
Neither of those thus far this season means that Arsenal will not finish in the top four, they are just not very helpful in realising that aim.
Yet this morning should have been an altogether happier affair. A point is not the disaster it is painted; the slide has been halted and with upcoming games, there is the chance to rebuild the confidence which went missing. Amidst the despondency raging across the plains of Arsenal-land, benefits are overwhelmed by the darkness.
Twice the woodwork intervened to stop Robin van Persie’s inexorable march to the World Player of the Year award for 2012. David Wheater blocked the Dutchman’s goalbound header when Bogdan had been beaten. That early in the game and the way the exchanges had gone, a goal would have seen the visitors scoring freely.
It was not all one way traffic. Ngog brought a save from Szczesny, the Frenchman beating Koscielny as an early nudge on concentration. That and an effort that missed the post prompted more Arsenal activity. Oxlade-Chamberlain put Walcott through, the England international lacked guile in his finish allowing Bogdan to divert the ball to safety with his foot.
In the second half, pressure grew on the Bolton goal but it was not until the hour mark that the defence creaked; Walcott had an effort blocked but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot diverted for a corner having seen van Persie’s initial effort rebound off the post. Koscielny’s aerial threat was not as potent as it had been at Craven Cottage.
Bolton again threatened but the closest to a goal came in the final ten minutes as van Persie beat Bogdan with an exquisite cheap but that finished on the crossbar. The denouement came as Davies claimed a penalty following Szczesny’s intervention; it was not and Chris Foy was, for once, not swayed by the home side.
All in all, it is a disappointment. The game was there, Bolton are not a good side, certainly not the obstinate opponents of yesteryear. With the inability to close the gap on Chelsea once more means the frustration is tangible. Yet given recent form is it so bad to draw? Time will tell but with Blackburn on the horizon this weekend, there is a chance to do so once more. At some point that has to happen or ambitions for the Champions League give.
Today’s Arsenal On This Day is from 1935, Alex James only hat-trick for Arsenal in a competitive game