EPL 2007-2008: Bolton 2 – Arsenal 3

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
March 31st, 2008 • 8:38 am

It was quite a crazy afternoon for Arsenal at the Reebok on Saturday.

It had all the makings of another Bolton-sponsored failure: a poor run of form, miserable weather conditions, the typical Boltonian blend of physicality and… physicality (albeit without the blessing of Fat Sam, but that does not seem to have made much difference), an early sending-off, etc.

And sure enough, the first half was an unmitigated disaster. The Gunners, in typical fashion, dominated possession but created little (or were guilty of poor finishing when they did create openings), and then they conceded two goals and had one man deservedly sent off and it looked pretty gloomy indeed at half-time.

The second half was a combination of good tactical changes, a bit of luck, sheer determination and a refusal to let the season die a miserable death—along with the type of defensive collapse by the Bolton team that explains why they are on the brink of relegation.

William Gallas scored an important first goal, which partly atones for his currently defensive failings. Then Hleb did very well to earn a deserved penalty, after another great collective move. (Maybe he fell a bit too easily, but everybody does this these days.)

Van Persie duly dispatched it, to his credit (although apart from this particular kick, he really needs to relocate his shooting boots fast if he wants to play a significant part in this last stretch of the season).

And then it looked very much like we would have to settle for yet another draw. But somehow, with a couple of fortunate deflections, we found a third, and did end up with all three points after all.

This kind of comeback might end up being a good morale booster ahead of the coming high-profile fixtures, but in all honesty, at this stage of the season I’d much rather have an easy 4-0 victory. There is no denying that, on current form, Manchester United are by far the favorites to win the trophy.

Then again, the last time I said that we were level on points with them and within a few weeks we were five points clear. So who knows?

The reality, though, is that the Gunners are effectively clutching at straws here. Without these lucky deflections for the third goal, they would be eight points behind the leaders, and would have nobody but themselves to blame. The same can probably be said of Chelsea, who were indeed very lucky not to concede an equalizer against Middlesborough on Sunday and drop points themselves.

We are still going to hope against hope, and try to come out of the three consecutive fixtures against Liverpool with the required results (a league win and a semi-final berth), but there is no denying that, for more than an hour on Saturday, we had that ominous feeling that the season was about to end.

The Gunners are going to have to overcome fatigue, deal with the injured and suspended absentees, and count on other teams to slow down Manchester United’s march towards the 2008 title. It’s not impossible, but these four consecutive draws still cast an overwhelming shadow over the proceedings and the victory at the Reebok ultimately does little to erase the painful memory of all these precious points carelessly dropped.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.