Arsenal 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

Last updated : 10 January 2009 By Footymad Previewer
A late strike from Nicklas Bendtner was enough give Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and to keep Arsene Wenger's men in touch at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal were looking to extend their unbeaten run as well as their winning streak as they looked to close in on the leaders. With Aston Villa already having secured three points against West Brom earlier in the day, it was another must-win for Wenger's side.

For his part Gary Megson set up for a draw. Pulling Kevin Davies back to line up with five across the middle when the Gunners were in possession, and that was for most of the early part of the match.

Johan Elmander was left up front on his own which gave the Gunners plenty of time and space to build from the back.

The first real opportunity fell to the Gunners on 13 minutes when Robin van Persie intercepted a shot from Samir Nasri controlling the ball with a delightful touch before shooting just over with his left.

The Dutchman was on target with his next effort, a header from inside the area but it was comfortably claimed by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The Gunners were keeping the pressure on and we camped in Bolton's half for much of the first, a congested part of the pitch where every player but for Manuel Almunia played most of the game.

Megson was forced to call on his depleted substitutes' bench on 38 minutes when his lone attacker limped off and he had to bring on one of his three outfield replacements early.

Davies moved into attack as Mustapha Riga slipped in to do the job vacated by Davies. For all their endeavour, Arsenal kept running into dead ends as Bolton stood resolute in front of them, using every trick available to wind down the clock.

Bolton came out after the interval with a more positive approach and mounted their first real attack as former Gunner Fabrice Muamba got a cross in from the right flank that Kolo Toure put out for a throw-in.

From there the ball worked its way into the box for Matthew Taylor to force Almunia into a save to claim the Bolton captain's looping header.

Carlos Vela replaced Abou Diaby on 64 minutes and within seconds the Gunners should have broken the deadlock. The Mexican striker threaded a delightful ball beyond the Bolton defence to Adebayor, but the Togolese striker took too long to shoot allowing Andrew O'Brien to block the eventual shot.

Van Persie struck the base of the right post in the 70th minute after he latched on to a clever ball from Adebayor. A minute later Jaaskelainen kept his side in the game with a fine save from Toure and the Gunners had Bolton on the rack, but could not breach the visitors reinforced defence.

Arsene Wenger threw on another striker in Bendtner with 15 minutes to go and the Dane almost scored with his first touch as he met Nasri's free-kick from the left but Jaaskelainen saved well.

The Dane did eventually break the deadlock on 84 minutes when under pressure from JLloyd Samuel he slid in on the right side of the box to power home van Persie's cross from the left.

Bolton immediately went on the attack and Almunia had to save well from a Davies shot, who had been put in by Chris Basham.

The game suddenly became stretched and Vela was denied by a fine Jaaskelainen save as the Gunners mounted a counter-attack, but the game ended shortly after to loud applause and the clear relief of the home fans.