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Arsenal 1-0 Bolton

By Ian Hughes

Robin van Persie congratulates Nicklas Bendtner
Bendtner (right) scored his second league goal of the season

Nicklas Bendtner came off the bench to snatch victory for Arsenal when he slid in to score with six minutes left.

Until then Arsenal had been frustrated as Robin van Persie fired a volley just over the bar and Emmanuel Adebayor hesitated and his shot was blocked.

Van Persie's toe-poked effort hit the post before the Dutchman's flick was saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen, who then saved Bendtner's close-range header.

But the Dane converted Van Persie's cross to finally end Bolton's resolve.

It had seemed Arsenal would be foiled by a dogged display from the visitors, who showed virtually nothing coming forward but proved very difficult to break down at the back.

Wenger delighted with three points

And they might have been pegged back to a draw had Kevin Davies done better with a shot from six yards that he directed straight at Manuel Almunia in the closing stages.

Chances were rare until the last quarter of the match, with Bolton's blanket rearguard comfortably keeping Arsenal out.

The Gunners looked to Samir Nasri and Van Persie for a creative spark but the pair saw a lot of the ball without managing to inflict any damage.

Van Persie had the best chance of an uneventful first half when he took down Nasri's pass with one touch and narrowly volleyed over the bar with his second touch.

606: DEBATE
dennisvanovermar

Bolton lost their lone striker Johan Elmander to injury mid-way through the half - not that anyone would really have noticed, such had been the lack of an attacking threat.

Yet had the visitors shown some adventure they might have exposed some nervousness in the Arsenal defence - twice keeper Almunia almost suffered a mix-up with his own players.

Bolton's first chance on goal came after the interval, but Matthew Taylor's header was easily saved.

It had the effect, though, of finally provoking the home side into stepping through the gears.

And they should have scored when Nasri found Adebayor in space but he delayed his shot too long and Andy O'Brien was able to block.

Megson disappointed for players

Arsenal were inches from taking the lead shortly after when Van Persie poked the ball against the foot of the post and then saw his flick, which diverted Kolo Toure's shot, well saved by Jaaskelainen.

Bendtner should, perhaps, have scored with his first touch when he headed downwards but it was only into the arms of the Wanderers keeper.

But the striker was not to be denied and he slid in at the far post to meet Van Persie's cross and slot into an empty net to put Arsenal ahead.

It was a cruel blow for Bolton, although they had been increasingly under pressure, and they might have come away with a point had Davies not squandered a late chance.


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
"Bolton defended very deep and very well and we needed to be patient and not to make a mistake. They made it very difficult for us.

"I think Bolton came to get a 0-0 draw but We were stubborn and focused and consistent and in the end we got there.

"I felt in the last 20 minutes we had a little bit more room and we took advantage of it."

Bolton boss Gary Megson:
"The effort they put it, and they way they played - albeit in the main defensively, was terrific.

"We needed to make sure that, if we needed to go 10 yards, we went 10 yards and not nine because we would get found out. And that's what happened.

"I am disappointed for my players, but certainly not disappointed with them."


Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Eboue (Bendtner 74), Diaby (Vela 64), Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor (Ramsey 88), Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Wilshere, Bischoff, Gibbs.

Booked: Djourou, Ramsey.

Goals: Bendtner 84.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Basham, Shittu, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Taylor, Muamba, McCann, Gardner, Elmander (Riga 39), Davies, Riga (Obadeyi 77).
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Fojut.

Booked: Riga, McCann.

Att: 60,068

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Robin van Persie 7.88 (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.



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see also
Premier League as it happened
10 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
10 Jan 09 |  Football


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