Djourou, van Persie, Gibbs, Walcott, Denilson, Senderos, Eboue and Song also all being unavailable.
New managers always somehow present a problem, as do the teams in the relegation zone as both Villa and the Totts had already discovered this weekend. But Bolton are no longer a bogey team, at least not coming into this game. With a continually growing injury list Eastmond coming in for the injured Ramsey/Denilson was the big news for this match, another English youngster getting his full Premiership debut. More good news however in that Clichy was at long last in our squad again, for the first time since October.
Prior to the game Redknapp the Younger declared that Eastmond would just sit in midfield and lay it off to Fabregas or Diaby. Not a bit of it. Eastmond is pure Arsenal and like all our players was well able to make his own passes. Bolton bosses the first couple of minutes with Traore having a difficult start again. But after that Fabregas took control and with twenty minutes gone we'd had 60% of the possession. As usual however we hadn't had that many chances but enough ball for Eduardo, playing down the middle today, to have made more of those chances that came his way.
Two penalty appeals by Fabregas were waved away by Phil Dowd and although both were difficult to spot from the ref's angle the bottom line was that both should have been given. Davies had a chance and Klasnic had netted from an offside position before we really got into our stride. All their best play was down our left flank with Traore looking shaky but his cover of Diaby and Arshavin didn't help him overly much. Fabregas shot wide with a sighter. Rosicky had a shot blocked. An Arshavin, Fabregas, Eduardo move saw the ball cleared off the line. Gallas to Ed with a tasty long ball, but Eduardo is still not right on the money.
Bolton's long throws were not what they were with the Verminator in control at the back. A wild shot by Cohen. 'Stand up if you hate Tottenham'...have to say my sofa was too comfortable to bother with that one. A Klasnic shot saved but Arsenal well on top and in control with Fabregas running the match. Two corners and a shot from Eastmond follow. Eastmond might have been carded for a tough challenge, he may be slight but he sure knows how to take someone out. When our opening goal came it was in a congested penalty area with Eastmond, Diaby, Arshavin, Eduardo and Fabregas all involved. Quick feet, lightning short passes and a tasty finish by Cesc and 0-1 to the Arsenal. It was like watching a card sharp baffle the audience. Brilliant. Cesc's 10th league goal of the season and his 13th of the season.
Robinson, a lump who surely won't last under Coyle, took out Cesc for a yellow card. Eastmond had a shot cleared off the line from a corner and had Andrey got the slightest touch we'd have been two up. Cesc went down in the box for what should have been another penalty and some clown kneeling on his neck to boot. Ignorant Bolton fans bleat on about cheating which pisses me off no end given their abject attempts to kick people. Things warm up as Diaby is taken out twice before Rosicky steamed in with a bit of revenge met by a yellow card.
Taylor with a shot saved. A good save from Lee which Almunia saw late. A superb cutback from Arshavin but Ed missed it and put off Cesc, this could have and should have been our second. A Fabregas deflected shot saved before Klasnic came close to scoring at the other end. Halt time at the Reebok as the home fans biggest crowd of the season saw their team go in a goal down. About right on the balance of play.
Bolton started better after the break. Great cross from Lee as Taylor and Almunia collided in the challenge for the ball. Cohen with a chance. An Arsenal free kick taken by Cesc saw Gallas head over. Bolton still effective down their right flank. Great cross by Arshavin cleared. Bolton press but we look so good on the counter as this time Diaby pulls his shot wide from Arshavin's pass. Good ball by Klasnic but Taylor missed a sitter, it could have been the pitch which wasn't all that but it certainly looked like a bad miss. McCann on for Muamba. Traore with a fine cross following a sweet move. Merida replaced Eastmond who'd done really well, Diaby moved to the holding role at this point.
Merida to Rosicky who would have found Ed but for a fine clearing header. Ed pressed again and we won another two corners. Arsenal were back on top after the short Bolton blitz and it remained that way for pretty well the remainder of the match. Taylor, who had more time than he thought, again shot wide. Two good Arsenal counters were messed up before Clichy replaced Rosicky. Gael went to left midfield, Arshavin to the right. Merida fouled by McCann and Vermaelen fired just over onto the top netting from the freekick. A yellow card for Vermaelen as he handled. Arsenal worked yet another great move as Fab delayed his pass till the last second. Ed looked to be a quarter of a yard offside but his deep cross was stood up to Merida and saw our second Spaniard score a neat goal with his right peg just inside the far post as he came in from the right to meet Ed's cross. 0-2 Arsenal.
Bolton made a couple of changes to no effect and Vela got the last six minutes plus injury time at Eduardo's expense. We were very comfortable now, it was if our substitutions had just been a change of one precision cog for another. The three minutes added time saw Vela have his free kick saved.
So three more valuable points and League-wise that now puts us 7 points clear of the 4th placed Totts and City, 9 clear of Villa and 11 points clear of Pool, what's more we could even go top on Wednesday. What would we be like with an effective centre forward?