Spanish Double Act Deal Coyle Debut Defeat

Cesc Fabregas was in sparkling form on his return from injury as Arsenal battled to a 2-0 victory over a Bolton side showing signs of recovery in their first game under new manager Owen Coyle.

The much touted “Coyle Factor” certainly played its part as the feel-good factor was ramped up at the Reebok Stadium, but ultimately it was the genius of the Gunners’ Spanish skipper which told through, as he pulled every conceivable string in what will be have been a satisfying victory for Arsene Wenger.

Fabregas slotted home after a delightful one-two with Eduardo on the edge of the 18-yard box, before playing an instrumental part in Fran Merida’s superbly crafted second.

At the other end, Matt Taylor spurned the home side’s best opportunity when he lashed a shot over the crossbar.

The win puts the Gunners 2-points behind second-placed Manchester United with a game in hand, but a victory of the same margin in Tuesday’s rearranged fixture with Bolton at the Emirates will see them take over the reins at the top of the table on goal difference.

Wanderer’s boss Coyle will have been impressed with his sides initial display as they applied early pressure to the visitors, and were only denied the lead by the linesman when Ivan Klasnic’s emphatic strike was ruled out for offside. Korean winger Chung-Yong Lee also threatened regularly with some probing balls, as Armand Traore appeared to be lacking confidence following his error-ridden display against Everton last Saturday.

However, the scale of the task taken on by the former Burnley manager became apparent, as his side allowed Cesc Fabregas the time and space to orchestrate the midfield with the precise passing which has become a trademark of Arsenal Football Club.

A neat series of short, sharp passes picked apart the Bolton back four as the Spaniard accurately slotted home his first time shot, just minutes after having a legitimate penalty claim turned down following Jussi Jaaskelainen’s reckless challenge.

Craig Eastmond, making his full debut in the top flight, was allowed acres of space in the 18-yard box but struck his free-volley straight at the Bolton stopper as the Gunners went in pursuit of a second.

Fabregas should have added to his tally when Andrey Arshavin cut the ball back across the face of goal, but both he and Croatian striker Eduardo da Silva missed the chance to finish another flowing move.

Bolton emerged from the break with the same energy, drive and committment shown at the beginning of the first period; every player seemingly hungry to impress their new manager, with Lee continuing to shine as his perseverence confounded Traore until Gael Clichy replaced Tomas Rosicky, shoring up the left flank of the Arsenal defence.

Matt Taylor then wasted his glaring opportunity to equalise after being picked out by Klasnic, as his wayward shot landed high in the stands.

His thriftless finishing was to be punished severely, when Fabregas superbly evaded a tackle as he ploughed through the midfield to feed Eduardo, who’s intelligent cross was controlled magnificently by substitute Fran Merida, before rifling his shot past Jaaskelainen.

BOLTON 0

Team: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Steinsson, Muamba (McCann 61), Taylor, Cohen (Gardner 80), Lee, Davies, Klasnic (Elmander 80)

Unused Subs: Al Habsi, Ricketts, Davies, O’Brien

Booked: Robinson

ARSENAL 2 (Fabregas 28, Merida 78)

Team: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore, Fabregas, Eastmond (Merida 63), Diaby, Rosicky (Clichy 74), Arshavin, Eduardo (Vela 84)

Unused Subs: Fabianski, Emmanuel-Thomas, Coquelin, Silvestre

Booked: Rosicky, Vermaelen

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