Free scoring Arsenal notched another 3 goals against Bolton to make it 15 goals in the last 5 games in all competitions. After going a goal down the Gunners took their football to another level and demolished Bolton in a 15 minute period where they scored two goals.
Arsene Wenger opted not to start Theo Walcott but instead to play the central midfield quartet in Fabregas, Denilson, Eboue and Song to counter the midfield muscle of Bolton. Song would act as the defensive midfielder, while in front would be the others; Denilson moving to the right and Eboue left when attacking and defending to form a diamond.
Arsenal Line Up
Sagna – Toure – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Denilson – Fabregas – Eboue
Adebayor – Bendtner
The formation was fluid and allowed the midfielders to express themselves; Song was holding but also got forward when Fabregas went deeper, Eboue and Denilson providing support up front. The options Arsenal had around the box was large but they were helped by a Bolton defense who pressured little in the final third. (See picture 1 and 2 underneath)
Positioning: The formation was interchangeable but the problem was when defending. As all apart from Eboue are central midfielders the tendency is to move to the middle as shown here. The midfielders were to near to each other making it hard to pass the ball out. This could have proved a problem were it a stronger opponent.
Arsenal are susceptible to the high ball we all know that. The Trotters try to use that to their advantage but encouragingly apart from the first goal the Gunners were hardly threatened from headers. Last season or two ago some say the Gunners could have lost a match like this so these are good signs and Arsenal are only going to get better. A stat last season was that Arsenal let three goals in directly from headers (and already we have let two) so the problem may include dealing with balls over the top and knock downs. Bolton created a number of chances in these positions.
Bolton poor- midfield and defence not closing
Bolton were poor. The midfield could not pass and the defence didn’t pressure enough. The 4 Arsenal starting midfielders made 263 passes between them at 86% completion. The 4 Bolton midfield starters managed just 71 passes between them at 83% completion. If you add in the two midfield subs Bolton still only managed 90 passes from midfield during the match. (Vital Arsenal Stats)
This was a good performance and Bolton were poor but Arsenal can only get better. Denilson is yet to get fully accustomed to his new role at the club and the partnership is yet to flourish. The true test is yet to come as the opposition midfield this season (even Fulham) have been poor.