Arsenal beats Bolton 4-1 in Premier League
Arsenal overcame a series of injuries to key attacking players to keep pace in the Premier League title race by beating 10-man Bolton 4-1 on Saturday.
Arsenal center back Laurent Koscielny gave his team a 24th-minute lead with his first goal for the club. However, he made the defensive error that gave Bolton an equalizer just before halftime through Johan Elmander.
Marouane Chamakh gave the Gunners the lead again in the 58th before midfielder Alex Song and substitute Carlos Vela added goals in the 78th and 83rd minutes at Emirates Stadium.
''It was a competitive game where we dominated overall and created many chances,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ''It's the kind of game if you don't kill it off, they can score. You can dominate 80 percent and still lose against Bolton.''
Bolton defender Gary Cahill was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Chamakh in the 64th. The referee, who was heckled throughout the match by both sets of fans, was surrounded by Bolton players who thought the decision was harsh.
''(Cahill) did foul him,'' Bolton manger Owen Coyle said. ''I thought it was a yellow card. I certainly didn't think it was a red, and suddenly we're down to 10 men against Arsenal. I'm frustrated for the lads.
''As mangers, we have to watch what we say. If I were to elaborate, I would be in trouble because it was the big turning point in the game. I thought at 2-1, it was a good, battling Premier League game.''
Bolton stretched Arsenal's defense at times, but once the visitors were down to 10 men they posed little threat.
''I'm disappointed that even when we were down to 10 men, we conceded two soft goals,'' Coyle said.
Arsenal's first goal came when Jack Wilshere floated a pass into the box that came off Cesc Fabregas, and when goalkeeper Adam Bogdan tried to grab the ball, Koscielny bundled it over the line.
It was Arsenal's new signing who was at fault for Bolton's equalizer. Koscielny's headed backpass was intercepted by Lee Chung-yong. The midfielder rounded goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and clipped a pass to Elmander, who headed the ball into goal.
Chamakh restored the home team's lead after Fabregas collected a pass from Arshavin. The captain looped the ball to the far post, where Chamakh was waiting to head it past Bogdan.
Song then beat Bogdan from a tight angle from close range. Fabregas was involved in Arsenal's fourth - catching out defenders with a floating pass that found Vela, and the Mexico striker beat Bogdan in a one-on-one with a left-footed volley.
Arsenal was short of attacking options because of injuries to Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner, leaving Chamakh and Vela as Wenger's only first-team strikers. Wenger was also without first-choice center back Thomas Vermaelen, giving a debut to new signing Sebastien Squillaci.
''They marked us very tight. They provoked a very physical game,'' Wenger said. ''It was a good test for our two center backs today.''
Bolton nearly scored in the 12th, when a free kick landed in the box and deflected off two players before falling to captain Kevin Davies, whose low shot into the ground was saved by Almunia.
Almunia's distribution looked poor in the opening stages, including kicking the ball to a Bolton player while trying to clear with less than a minute played.