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20 Jan 2010: Arsenal beat Bolton to go top of the league

The Aisa Arsenal History Society

On 5 December 2009 Arsenal beat Stoke 2-0 in the league, something of a relief after two consecutive defeats to Sunderland (1-0 away) and Chelsea (0-3 at home).

At that time the table looked like this:

Pld W D L F A G.D. Pts
1 Chelsea 14 12 0 2 36 8 +28 36
2 Manchester United 14 10 1 3 30 13 +17 31
3 Tottenham Hotspur 14 8 2 4 33 19 +14 26
4 Arsenal 13 8 1 4 36 18 +18 25
5 Liverpool 14 7 2 5 31 20 +11 23
6 Aston Villa 14 6 5 3 22 14 +8 23
7 Manchester City 13 5 7 1 24 17 +7 22
8 Sunderland 14 6 2 6 21 20 +1 20
9 Stoke City 14 5 5 4 13 15 -2 20
10 Fulham 14 5 4 5 18 16 +2 19

There was much talk of Tottenham being above Arsenal in the league, and of Arsenal being on the slide after those defeats.

But, as we know, Tottenham finishing above Arsenal is a rarity, and as it turned out the Stoke match was the start of 10 games without defeat, including rather curiously back to back victories over Bolton on 17 January 2010 (0-2 away) and 20 January 2010 (4-2 at home after being 0-2 behind).

Here is how Gf60 saw the occasions as the rise to the top took place

Bolton vs Arsenal 0-2

17 January 2010

Take your memories back 3 or 4 years or so. Bolton away in January? What chance would you have given us then with at least 8 of the regular squad missing? (RvP, Denilson, Song, Wallcott, Nasri, Ramsey,Eboue and Bendtner) A not overly comfortable 2-0 win forecast may have got you a nomination for commitment to a loony bin. How we have progressed.

To be honest, my expectations were that it would be a close call between this and the Stoke v Liverpool game for arguably the worst PL game of the season.

But I’d not taken into account Cesc coming back as razor sharp as ever. Possibly he was Arsenal’s man of the match; it was a very close call between him and Matt Taylor … you choose.

Yes there were disappointments on the day. Lee was eyeing up Traore as though thinking about sweet’n’sour dog for the night’s supper. Yum yums. It was not the youngster’s most auspicious performance but in fairness he was getting very little support, as was the case against Everton. Let’s hope that Cameroon have an early exit so Song can get back. Also, good to see btw that Eboue got a red card in his game [in the Africa Nations Cup]. Another 2 games free of injury.

I digress. Despite excellent performances from the Verminator (did Davies ever win a header?) and Billy G. to a lesser extent, we did get cut apart all too frequently. Given the quality of the opposition coming up over the next four weeks, we can only hope that we open up an even larger gap twixt 3rd and 4th on Wednesday.This was our first clean sheet away in the league since Fulham in September. And that wasn’t easy either.

Slowly but surely, the frequently absent are getting back into match sharpness, Eddie having a hand in both goals; Rosicky sharp one moment, rusty the next and young Eastmond making a promising first start.

With the injured/absent coming back some time in the near future we should be OK and well in touch for the latter half of the season. Good to see that Chel$ki, MFU and Liverpool have to play both us and Everton over the next six weeks. Everton’s demolition of City proved that they’ve come an awful long way since the start of the season, just as we found out at the cost of 2 points last week.

Arsenal vs Bolton 4-2

20 Jan 2010

The song “2-0 down and 4-2 up” (which goes well to the tune of Yankee Doodle by the way) saw us jump to the top of the league.

Given the games coming up, staying there come mid February may well be difficult, but who can complain given where we were?

It is however fair to complain about the two appalling goals we handed to Bolton. First Abou (yes, him with the great big fat fkin ‘ead) went back into MFU and Birmingham mode and skied an attempted headed clearance whereupon Gael’s attempted booted clearance managed to make sure that Bolton got the goal that such carelessness warranted.

Then following an Arsenal type corner kick, i.e.nowhere near clearing the defender on the near post, said defender on the near post managed to miskick the ball a mighty 6 yards or and Denilson’s horrible tackle resulted in a cast iron penalty.

Could it have been Cesc that was the miskicker? I’m too scared to watch for fear that it was. The man is otherwise a genius and I’m sure that were I ever to meet him I’d say something incredibly stupid like “Cesc. You’re out of this world…..oh and I’m Gf60 from Hillcrest in Kwazulu Natal.”

Just like Cesc, Abou also recovered and played in some really incisive passes. Some of the football we started playing towards the end of the first half was beautiful to watch.

Our goal has been blamed on Jusshoweveryouspellit but that is so unfair. He’s no bad keeper and if he, like me, knew there was no way that Tomas could get in a shot, he was quite right in moving into a more defensive position. Oops. It was our first well hit shot of the night.

And thence into the lead. AW actually saw a bad Gooner foul and apologised for it…but not for the equalising goal. But to make up for that, he obviously didn’t see yet another two penalty kicks denied us and didn’t have a moan and groan about the standard of refereeing.

Two more goals, the last a thing of beauty and joy, gave us the two goal margin we needed to get back to the top.

Can we stay there? If we defend like last night, it is quite honestly, doubtful. Maybe we can give Liverpool and Villa a goal start but two? Chel$ki and MFU I’d be very nervous if we even gave them one. Equally allowing someone like Davies who was so “out-headed” on Sunday to reverse the roles so completely was anathema.

But who really can moan about a really interesting game which had virtually everything. Hope Abou’s OK.

Here’s how the table stood after that 4-2 victory

P W D L F A G.D. Pts
1 Arsenal 22 15 3 4 59 25 +34 48
2 Chelsea 21 15 3 3 52 18 +34 48
3 Manchester United 22 15 2 5 49 19 +30 47
4 Tottenham Hotspur 22 11 5 6 42 24 +18 38
5 Manchester City 21 10 8 3 42 30 +12 38
6 Liverpool 22 11 4 7 40 26 +14 37
7 Aston Villa 21 10 6 5 29 18 +11 36
8 Birmingham City 21 9 6 6 21 19 +2 33
9 Fulham 21 7 6 8 26 24 +2 27
10 Everton 21 6 8 7 30 34 -4 26

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