Date: 21st September 2008 at 1:00pm
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1.Manuel ALMUNIA– Was very impressive in the second half as Arsenal came under pressure, aerially commanding and authoritative, which you need at this stadium. Made an excellent stop from Nolan, my only slight moan would be that he perhaps should have left Sagna to deal with the clearance that led to Bolton’s goal. 8

3.Bacary SAGNA– As you would expect from Banger, solid, immovable and admirably coped with the switch to left back in the second half. What an outstanding signing he has proved to be. 8

4.Francesc FABREGAS– Struck up an excellent understandng with Denilson which certainkly wasn’t apparent at Ewood Park. With the assurance of Song, Cesc knew when to sit and let Denilson go forward, even making some crunching tackles in the process. Similarly, he let Denilson sit and joined the attack. Fabregas created the first, Denilson the second, that reveals a lot. Cesc faded in the second half largely due to fatigue. 7

5.Kolo TOURE– After looking slightly unnerved early on, comnposed himself to put in an assured no nonsense performance. Didn’t dither, as any reticance at the Reebok will likely be pounced upon. Stood firm to the second half pressure. 7

10.William GALLAS(c)- Once again looked like his head was elsewhere for the first twenty minutes, but after Wenger berated him fromthe touchline for Davies’ goal he appeared to shake the early season malaise away and looked the authoritative and determined figure he had prior to his slow start to this season. I think Davies’ goal was the kick up the backside he needed, or maybe it was Wenger’s verbal volley? 7

15.DENILSON Pereira de Neves– A goal and an assist reveal everything we already knew about his offensive display, but his willingness in the tackle was crucial in an encounter that was always likely to be physical. He understood went to drop and let Cesc pull the strings and when to bomb forward and let Cesc drop. An excellent display, the assist gives him man of the match marginally over Eboue. More of these performances please young man. 8.5

17.Alexandre SONG Billong– Gave Denilson and Fabregas an excellent insurance policy. Gave us an aerial dimension at the back that we have missed since Gilberto’s demise and was always on hand to harry Bolton’sless than gifted ball players. Just a little cumbersome in possession sometimes but is really growing into a player with first team potential. 7

22.Gael CLICHY– Struck up a good understanding on the left with Eboue, even if Gael didn’t attack as he usually does, There again, I think Clichy’s offensive displays are a consequence of his peerless stamina and we therefore see the best of him going forward late in the game. Kevin Davies put paid to any chance of that. Glad to hear the leg’s not broken, one day Davies will pick on the wrong man. 7

25.Emmanuel ADEBAYOR– His work rate was insatiable, particularly in the second half when he provided us an outlet when under pressure. With Bolton’s clogger centre halves uncomfortable in possession, Ade made sure our spells of pressure were sustained and held the ball up excellently. His assist for Denilson elucidated how much more mature and composed he has become compared with the awkward, gangly striker that joined us in 2006. 7.5

26.Nicklas BENDTNER– Had a tremendous first half, unselfishly covering the left flank when Arsenal lost the ball and helping the defence with set pieces. van Persie was very disappointing on Wednesday night due to his reluctance to be a team player, Bendtner justified his inclusion on that score, adding a goal and an assist. Faded badly in the sedond half though. 7

27.Emmanuel EBOUE– You all know I’m not a serial Eboue basher, but seriously, is this the same player from last season? Tireless work rate, dangerous on the left flank, taking on defenders, excellent covering challenges and a goal to boot. (End product!?) Amazingly, he might just be our player of the season so far. Could he be this season’s Flamini? Will evolution make fools of us all as pigs sprout wings? Will Ferguson be generous in defeat? Will the Pope denounce woodland defication? I’m terribly confused. 8.5

SUBSTITUTES

20.Johan Djourou– On at right back at half time and coped impressively in a good defensive display second half. Bolton focussed most of their attacks down Arsenal’s left, but other than one occasion when he was too casual on the ball, slotted in seemlessly. 7

14.Theo Walcott– The ace tucked up the manager’s sleeve, made a huge difference when he came on as Bendtner had nothing in the tank. The last thing tired defenders chasing a game want to take on is fresh pace and Theo used his intelligently, as exemplified in his virtuoso run for the clinching goal. It’s been quite some blossoming in recent weeks, thus far the England hat trick has not gone to his head (imagine what would have happened if Bentley hit a hat trick against Croatia), but he has instead used it as a springboard. His decision making and the timing of his runs has improved ten fold in a matter of weeks,long may it continue. 8

16.Aaron Ramsey– Not a great deal of time to make an impression, but played wide and in the centre and kept things ticking over with little fuss. 7