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Page last updated at 18:30 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 19:30 UK

Bolton 1-3 Arsenal

By Nabil Hassan

Emmanuel Eboue
Eboue (right) scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal

Arsenal came from a goal behind to record a well-earned victory at Bolton, and climb to the top of the Premier League table.

Kevin Davies had given Bolton an early lead when he headed home Joey O'Brien's corner from six yards out.

Arsenal responded well with Emmanuel Eboue equalising from close range, before Nicklas Bendtner bundled home Denilson's cross a minute later.

Denilson sealed the win, side-footing Emmanuel Adebayor's low cross.

It was Arsenal's eighth win from nine games and was achieved without strike duo Theo Walcott and Robin Van Persie.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made two key changes to the Champions League side that drew at Dynamo Kiev in midweek with Walcott and Van Persie replaced by Bendtner and Eboue.

Interview: Arsene Wenger

Bolton started brightly with Kevin Nolan seeing his speculative drive tipped over the bar by Manuel Almunia.

Moments later, Adebayor almost opened the scoring but his goalbound shot was blocked by Andy O'Brien.

The hosts took the lead with just 13 minutes on the clock with Davies rising above Kolo Toure to head home O'Brien's corner.

Toure almost made up for his poor defending soon after, sending a half-volley just past the post.

Arsenal reacted well to going behind and soon started to find their feet in a thrilling encounter at the Reebok Stadium.


Adebayor fired against the post after playing a delightful one-two with Bendtner, before Bendtner himself had a goalbound shot deflected wide for a corner by Danny Shittu.

From the resulting corner Alexandre Song headed against the post, as Arsenal continued to press for the equaliser.

Soon after, they finally got their reward, levelling the game through an unlikely source.

That source was Eboue, who latched onto Bendtner's dinked through ball and fired past Jussi Jaaskelainen from close range.

It was Eboue's first goal in the Premier League and just 90 seconds later Arsenal were in front.

This time it was Bendtner's turn to get on the scoresheet.

Interview: Gary Megson

The Dane tapped home from close range following Denilson's fine cross from the left.

Arsenal continued to punish Bolton on the counter-attack and again went close through Eboue.

With time running out in the half, Bolton pressed for an equaliser and Almunia pulled off a wonderful fingertip save to deny Nolan.

Nolan again went close with a volley that sailed just past the post with Arsenal living dangerously against the hosts.

But on the stroke of half-time Gary Megson's side could have been reduced to 10 men with Davies guilty of an awful two-footed challenge on Arsenal defender Gael Clichy.

Nicklas Bendtner
Nicklas Bendtner scored just 90 seconds after Eboue levelled

Although he appeared to win some of the ball, he more than left his mark on Clichy, who played no further part in proceedings, while Davies escaped with a yellow-card.

It was an unfortunate way to end what had been a brilliant half of football.

Clichy was taken to hospital for a scan on his left shin, but it revealed only bruising.

Song tested Jaaskelainen soon after the break with a fierce drive from the edge of the box as Arsenal looked to kill the game off.

Bolton sent on Mustapha Riga on the hour in an attempt to liven up their attacking options.

And the young Dutch winger soon tested Almunia with a fine 20-yard curling strike that the Arsenal keeper tipped round the post.

As the game wore on, Arsenal defended deeper and deeper with Bolton desperately searching for an equaliser.

But for all their endeavour they struggled to break down a resilient and well organised Arsenal defence.

Set pieces remained Bolton's beat attacking threat and Gretar Steinsson should have done better with a free header from Ricardo Gardner's corner.

As time ran out Bolton threw more men forward and were predictably caught on the break by Arsenal.

Second-half substitute Walcott did the damage before releasing Adebayor out wide who sent in a teasing cross that Denilson tapped home to seal the points.

Walcott had a late chance for 4-1 but his curling shot was tipped round the post by Jaaskelainen.

It sent Arsenal top, with Chelsea playing Manchester United on Sunday and Liverpool dropping points at home to Stoke on Saturday.

Bolton boss Gary Megson:
"We started okay but then Arsenal gave us a footballing lesson for 30 minutes, we couldn't get near them in the first half.

"We were excellent in the second half. It was a good day even though we got turned over at home 3-1.

"Every time we play now we have to pick up where we left off in that second half because it was terrific.

"You are never happy that you have lost but the second half performance was excellent.

"There is some light at the end of the tunnel now. If we do that against every other team they all do not have the quality of Arsenal."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"I thought it was a convincing, united, classy performance with strengths everywhere.

"We were strong mentally, physically and technically. It was a complete performance.

"Even in the second half when we needed to defend more we showed resilience. There are aspects of our game that make me think the team is maturing very quickly.

"We can always get better, that is the positive thing. We want to improve. As long as your attitude is right, you can go forward. We did not panic after going behind and that is the pleasing thing."

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Shittu, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Joey O'Brien (McCann 61), Smolarek (Riga 56), Muamba (Vaz Te 81), Nolan, Gardner, Davies.
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Helguson, Cohen.

Booked: Davies, Muamba.

Goals: Davies 14.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy (Djourou 46), Eboue (Ramsey 85), Fabregas, Song Billong, Denilson, Adebayor, Bendtner (Walcott 73).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Van Persie, Vela, Gibbs.

Booked: Song Billong, Fabregas.

Goals: Eboue 26, Bendtner 27, Denilson 87.

Att: 22,694

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas 7.59 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Saturday's football photos
20 Sep 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
20 Sep 08 |  Premier League

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