Patrick was having a rest day, an enforced rest day thanks to the big name collecting half wit called D'Urso. So in stepped Parlour. It could have been Edu but he was injured, or Van Bronckhorst but he's still injured, or Lauren or Toure, such is our midfield strength even discounting the recovering Pires. Kanu also started with Dennis warming the bench alongside Jeffers, Luzhny, Shaaban and Toure. Time was when we counted our International players with pride but now the Pub argument amongst Gooners is how many World Class players we have in our squad. I'd say nine but then you might not agree with my choice of players or my addition.
Bolton played to frustrate with a 4-5-1 formation and the one was the obnoxious Dean Holdsworth who started today. We weren't on song in the first half and stuttered rather than flowed. Maybe in times like these we are spoiled but expectations are very high and we were not meeting them. Bolton didn't really bother us but you just know they're always gonna make the most of set plays. With Campo in the side they also make the most of play acting. Today's ref D Pugh was not impressed with Campo's verbals and booked him early on, Parlour had tripped him and it wasn't given but he went on and on and on so got the yellow as his reward for excessive use of the lip. Lauren got in the odd decent cross. Keown looked solid and Gilberto was going in hard but his passing wasn't up to scratch for most of the game.
We were still trying to get going when Freddie, who else, won a penalty. A yellow card was dished out and Henry lined up for the spot kick at the Clock End. Unfortunately he hit the inside of the post and it flew across the face of their goal instead of in it. Not as good as our last spot kick taken by Lauren. Still 0-0. Frandsen went down in a heap in our area and rolled around for a bit but nothing was given. Holdsworth got Keown booked and it's worth noting for the future that this ref is easily conned. We were bitty rather than slick and had yet to hit full throttle. A big hoof by Dave saw Thierry win the chase but fail to angle home into the net. Wiltord crossed deep from the left but there was no-one far enough right to meet it.
Then we were kick started by a fine Ljungberg ball that saw Henry round the keeper and slot home to make it 1-0. It should have been plain sailing from this point but wasn't. Gilberto was not picking out Freddie's runs and his passing was not at it's best. Ray was pressing hard but lacked the killer ball. We started to find our rhythm but despite some classy juggling from Henry we weren't quite in killer mode. A great cross field ball to Ray who set up Lauren. Djorkaeff tries from a free kick but only finds our wall. Holdsworth is sweating so much he is either totally unfit or was on the piss last night. A Djorkaeff dive was followed by a Holdsworth shot on the turn. Another long ball from Seaman found Henry on the left but he was shoved before he could make it pay. His free kick was too close to the keeper.
We passed it around at the back but there were no killer runs being made, mind you it's not easy against a packed defence. Kanu wasn't getting the service and we'd failed to do them for width. Lauren appeared to take a knock late in the half. A great driving run by Parlour who was beaten to Lauren's return cross by the keeper. Half time.
Kolo provided some excellent half time entertainment with a class display of keepy-upsie.
Freddie continued to win free kicks as Arsenal continued to press but their defending was pretty good. Henry was able to break into the box but they were smothering us with numbers at the back. Kanu did it all right and Wiltord had a decent shot blocked. We won corners, we won free kicks most of the corners and all of the free Kicks were taken by Thierry. There was one that whistled just past the post but in the main they were no better than his penalty. When Sylv and Freddie cut inside Lauren and Cole bombed down the flanks but there were few killer balls.
Holdsworth chopped Keown and deserved the card he received as his reward. Kanu won a corner following good pressure on their keeper by Freddie. Another free kick and Gilberto went close. Henry rifled one in with his left but it too was wide. Bolton meantime took it in turns to waste time Bergsson, Farrelly and Djorkaeff all giving it a go. Freddie took up a great position in their box but got the ball caught up under his feet. Frustration continued with Lauren crossing too deep for Freddie. Okocha replaced Holdsworth.
Rickets tried an overhead kick with little power, he looked like Heskey in the way that he enjoyed falling over. Dennis replaced Sylvain and a supply line was opened immediately. Ljungberg was replaced by Jeffers. A ball through to Henry from Dennis saw Thierry net but the flag was raised. We were right in line and it looked level to us, not offside at all. Jeffers had a shot blocked, Seaman held Ricketts' cross and Henry had a hopeful try from his own half. Henry on the left to Kanu for a flicked header that was saved was one of our better attempts. Campo dived again, god I hate cheats!
We continued to press and the crowd continued to slag Kanu but it's wasn't his fault, until Dennis arrived our service to the front men had been lacking. Dennis volleys a deep Cole cross but hits Henry. Lauren was limping as Frandsen volleyed wide with a rare chance at the other end. We win yet another free kick and they time waste as ever, this time the prat Campo kicks the ball away and gets his second yellow of the day for really dumb offences. So it's a red now and he takes about a week to leave the field of play. Tofting replaced Djorkaeff as Bolton cling on for a point. As usual Henry hit the free kick wide. I'm not the only one asking why someone else can't take them. Jaaskelainen gets a yellow for more blatant time wasting. Toure on for Lauren but that doesn't stop him going up front.
More corners follow and Kolo gets a header on from Campbell but the keeper held on. Four minutes added time which should have been six or seven. During which Jeffers missed a half chance. Bergkamp's cross came to nothing and a Keown cross was as good as nothing. Cole pumps it in Henry climbs all over a defenders back, the ball bounces loose and Kanu stretches to stab home with his big toe from about chest height. 2-1 to Arsenal with about three minutes added time played. That still leaves time for Kanu and Jeffers to screw up a 5 on 3 break where either or both should have made it three-one. A relieved Highbury as Arsenal showed the necessary character to grind out the three points.