Arsenal were nearly denied victory by Bolton's defensive hard work and determination at the Emirates today. It took 84 minutes for the Gunners to break down stubborn Wanderers. But substitute Nicklas Bendtner made the crucial breakthrough with a volley at the far post from a Robin van Persie cross.
Bolton's squad was depleted by injuries and suspension - manager Gary
Megson was only able to name three outfield players on his bench - so
Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger was ultimately relieved to emerge
with all three points that keep his side in touch with the four clubs
above them in the Premier League.
After seeing his side eventually avoid another frustrating outcome,
Wenger said: "We are already swimming enough against the stream not to
drop points against Bolton.
"We were solid defensively and now we have won 1-0 three times, which is a good basis.
"We must just take it game by game because every match is difficult."
Admitting that breaking Bolton down had been tough, Wenger added: "It was a difficult game with them having two deep lines.
"We could not find a way through and maybe our passing was not incisive enough.
"They were strong in the challenge and their only focus was to defend well.
"It looked like it could be 0-0 as we never looked like conceding, but
we did not create many chances and we finished in a good old-fashioned
4-2-4 to win the game."
Bendtner's winner was his first goal since the end of November, but
Wenger stressed: "He had injury problems with his ankle and it affected
his game, but now in training he looks sharp again.
"He had some difficult periods, but now slowly he is getting back to where he needs to be."
The French manager believes the Gunners, who are missing the invention
of captain Cesc Fabregas, England winger Theo Walcott, and Czech
international midfielder Tomas Rosicky, will soon be playing their
trademark creative football again.
But whether that will involve Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin joining the Gunners remains to be seen.
Wenger said: "When you have situations like today and have injuries on the offensive side, that can be a problem.
"We are looking and as soon as we find, we will tell everyone."
--Mark Hinton, Goal.com