Arsenal beats Bolton 3-0 with Van Persie double

Arsenal beat 10-man Bolton 3-0 Saturday with two goals from

captain Robin van Persie, easing the pressure on the Gunners after

a terrible start to their Premier League season.

The second half had barely started when Aaron Ramsey collected

the ball near the halfway line after Bolton lost possession. Ramsey

made a driving run through the middle before laying off the ball to

Van Persie on the left, who raced into the penalty area and drilled

a shot past Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen after just 36

seconds.

Bolton defender David Wheater was sent off in the 55th minute

after he made contact with Theo Walcott, who was closing in on

goal.

Van Persie’s second – his 100th goal for Arsenal – came in the

71st minute when he nudged the ball in off his left shin in front

of goal after a cross from Walcott. Alex Song added a third in the

89th with a curling shot from inside the area.

”It is a deserved win that is welcome for us,” Arsenal manager

Arsene Wenger said. ”We cannot drop points anymore.”

Arsenal moved up to 12th in the table after starting the day in

17th to ease the pressure on Wenger, although there were worrying

signs for the manager when Walcott limped off with a knee injury

late on.

”I don’t really know (what is wrong),” Wenger said. ”I

thought it was a classic hamstring but it is not. He felt a sharp

pain in his knee and at the moment he is with the doctor.

”I don’t know what the diagnosis will be but it is completely

surprising. There was no one near him.”

It adds to a number of injury problems facing Arsenal. On Friday

night, the club confirmed that England midfielder Jack Wilshere

will be out until at least Christmas after he undergoes ankle

surgery Monday.

First-choice center back Thomas Vermaelen had ankle surgery

earlier this month and is expected to return after the next

international break in early October. Midfielder Abou Diaby is also

out with an ankle injury and should be ready for action around the

same time.

The Gunners have had an awful start to the season, losing three

of their first five matches, including a humiliating 8-2 defeat to

Manchester United and a 4-3 loss to Blackburn after twice leading

in that match.

Arsenal’s recurring defensive problems were evident in the

opening stages of the first half Saturday, with Bolton nearly

scoring in the second minute of the match. A free kick was floated

into the penalty area and headed on to Darren Pratley. His hooked

shot nearly beat Wojciech Szczesny, who had to dive to his left to

push it out for a corner.

In the sixth minute, a flick-on from another set piece evaded

the Arsenal defense and Wheater just missed glancing it in.

But Arsenal regained a sense of composure and nearly scored a

minute later when Gervinho latched onto a throughball from Mikel

Arteta, which left the Ivory Coast forward in a one-on-one

situation with Bolton’s goalkeeper. But Gervinho’s heavy first

touch allowed Jaaskelainen to race out and smother the ball at the

attacker’s feet.

Arsenal’s second-half performance was dominant, especially after

Wheater’s sending off, with the Gunners bombarding Bolton’s goal

with several on-target shots.

Bolton’s poor start to the season continued with a fifth loss in

six games and the team is rock bottom in 20th place.

”The first half we were delighted,” Bolton manager Owen Coyle

said. ”We had a good shape and at half time we had a platform to

achieve a positive result from the game. But if you’re going to

shoot yourself in the foot as we did (at the start of the second

half) then it’s obviously going to be difficult.”