Under Sam Allardyce Bolton were a tough side to play against. They were physical, direct and had enough skill to cause anyone problems. Anyone except Man United, of course, for whom they rolled over regularly. When Allardyce left and Sammy Lee was installed as manager he tried to fashion a different team. Brought up in the boot room of Liverpool he wanted his team to play football, keep the ball on the ground and he reverted to a 4-4-2 formation which was alien to many of the players. It didn’t work, nor did the idea of not lumping it long towards Kevin Davies as early as they could, and that’s why they’ve been struggling so badly this season.
With Lee sacked and Archie Knox in temporary charge he did away with any of this playing football nonsense and got them back to doing what they do best – being a pack of dirty, time wasting shitkickers with 11 men behind the ball as often as possible. And for a while it worked. We looked a bit uncomfortable at times in the first half as Bolton’s ‘robust’ approach limited the number of chances we had, the best falling late on to Adebayor.
In the second we began to press them back even further and Emmanuel Eboue should have opened the scoring early on when the ball fell kindly to him in the box. Showing all the composure of someone who is on fire he blasted his shot wide. Cesc had a long shot and Adebayor was unable to match his workrate outside the box with a finish in it, slicing a shot high and wide. The boss made changes bringing on Rosicky and Walcott for Eboue and Eduardo who looked a little lost out on the left hand side.
The first goal came from a free kick about 30 yards out. One of those that Kolo loves to take but which rarely trouble the opposition. It was different this time, despite a Bolton player hurtling out to charge it down he drilled a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 1-0. Certainly no less than we deserved. Adebayor had a great chance to make it 2-0 when he was put through but his touch took him too far around the keeper and then his feet somehow detatched themselves from his brain and he fell over in the box.
The second came when Hleb (who had a really good second half, I thought) played a great ball through to Theo who jinked one way, then the other, before clipping a low cross into the path of Rosicky whose clipped finish was just beautiful. It was the sort of goal that makes you want to light candles and sacrifice things to ensure Rosicky’s hamstrings stay in good shape because those are the kind of goals on he can bring to this side. As for Theo, well, he looked much more decisive and direvt, which is what we’ve wanted from him. The assist was excellent as was one run with the ball at great pace through the Bolton defence. Coupled with his good work for Robin van Persie’s goal against Sunderland he’s now becoming productive and hopefully he’ll grow in confidence.
So three points again and a good start after the international break. With the Slavia Prague game in midweek it’s a good chance to really get some momentum going before the big week when we play Liverpool away and United at home. Afterwards the manager was impressed with his team’s ability to cope with the ‘experience’ of Bolton’s players and by the progression of Theo, saying:
He has found the injection of pace he had before and he uses his body better. When you see what he brings when he came on, you are very excited. You need to give people time and allow them to see whatâ€™s important in the game. Everything was new for him last year, but he is growing into a man now.
It will be interesting to see if he can start producing consistently but we’re now seeing more than just flashes of skill and pace and I do think perhaps too much was expected of him too soon. A word too for Gael Clichy who has been outstanding so far this season. His drive going forward is matched by his fantastic defending. One occasion yesterday when he battled that big lump Kevin Davies and came away with the ball was just brilliant.
As for Bolton, well, they look like they’re in real trouble and they could find themselves in the relegation dogfight all season long. Good enough for the cunts.
Not much else happening in the Sunday papers as far as I can see at this stage. The Sunday Mirror has a story about Stan Kroenke being asked to nominate a board member but that’s nothing new really.
Anyway, it’s all about the football this weekened and that’s the way it should be. Top of the league, Arsefans, it’s there to be enjoyed. Till tomorrow.