Gunners continue resurgence with victory at the Emirates after Arshavin equalises Muamba's opener, as defeat piles further misery on Owen Coyle's side
Goals from Andrey Arshavin and Park Chu-Young saw the Gunners come from behind after Fabrice Muamba’s opener, as the hosts remain unbeaten in the competition at the Emirates and move into the last eight.
Centre-back Thomas Vermaelen was recalled into the Arsenal starting XI as captain, having been sidelined for two months with an ankle injury. Sebastien Squillaci partnered the Belgian in defence, whilst youngster Nico Yennaris filled in at right-back.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle named a much changed line-up for the clash, with Gary Cahill and Darren Pratley the only players to retain their starting spots following the 2-0 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday. Ivan Klasnic joined Gael Kakuta up front, with the Chelsea loanee returning to the side after scoring against Aston Villa in the last round of the competition.
Arshavin nearly forced two early opportunities for the home side, with both Zat Knight and Cahill slipping in succession under pressure from the Russian, before Igansi Miquel rose well to meet a corner, but the Spaniard was only able to make slight contact with ball.
Summer signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked to continue his League Cup form, having scored in last month’s 3-1 victory over Shrewsbury Town. The youngster latched onto to Miquel’s deflected cross, but his shot was blocked well by Knight, before the 18-year-old showed indecision when opting to cross at the by-line instead of pulling the trigger after his mazy run.
The former Southampton man then lost possession too easily in the middle, as Darren Pratley shrugged off his midfield counterpart before driving forward and forcing a good save from Lukasz Fabianski from just outside the box.
It was then Adam Bogdan’s turn to divert from distance – Park showing a rare glimmer up front with his drive from 25-yards out mid-way through the first half.
The South Koren continued to frustrate early on, failing to time his runs as he was called offside numerous times, before gradually beginning to drop deeper in search of the ball after being dominated physically and aerially by the Bolton backline.
Yossi Benayoun’s curling effort was only inches wide on the half-hour mark, after the Israeli showed superb skill to turn right-back Gretar Steinsson inside out on the edge of the box and send the ball just past the right-hand post.
Bolton stopper Bogdan continued to look to make amends for his horror show in the 5-1 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month, the 24-year-old twice thwarting Park’s albeit tame efforts from distance, before saving well from Vermaelen’s driven free-kick from 25 yards.
Russian reward | A goal and an assist from Arshavin secured the victory
Owen Coyle’s side made a quickfire start to the second half, with Muamba dispossessing Emmanuel Frimpong easily in the middle before driving forward and feeding in Pratley, who in turn teed up the midfielder with a return ball which was duly slammed into the roof of the net from six yards out.
The Arsenal defence were caught napping again two minutes later, this time Klasnic being the only man to react to Kakuta’s curling cross, but the Croatian could only poke the ball over the bar.
That seemed to spur the hosts into life. After a sloppy finish to the first half, Arshavin was quick to tighten his end product after the break. The Russian was invited to run at Knight and Mark Davies, and the forward duly obliged, running into the box before unleashing a low shot to draw the sides level.
He then turned provider, this time Cahill allowing the 30-year-old’s advances as Arshavin held the ball well to allow Park to get back onside, before releasing the former Monaco striker whose impressive curled effort found its way past Bogdan and into the corner to give Arsenal the lead.
Bolton looked to draw parity, the visitors forcing a number of saves from Fabianski. The shot stopper got down well to save Kakuta’s free-kick that was destined for the bottom corner before looking at odds in dealing with a Chris Eagles long-range effort, which the Pole misjudged and was relieved to see loop over bar.
The 26-year-old recovered well however when he was quick off his line to stop Klasnic as the Croat looked to shoot from 12 yards, before again diving well to stop Gary Cahill’s header.
It continued to prove a night to forget for Klasnic, who spurned a later opportunity to equalise two minutes from time, only for his effort from inside the six-yard box to fly high over Fabianski’s goal.
Substitute Ryo Miyaichi was then on hand defensively as he made a superb last-ditch intervention to prevent Cahill as the Gunners held on to secure a 2-1 victory.
The result will further compound the misery at Bolton, as Owen Coyle’s side sink to their eighth defeat of the season.
Whilst progression to the quarter-finals of the competition will not yet be enough to alter the air of scepticism amongst some Arsenal fans at the Emirates, another victory and the return of Thomas Vermaelen will certainly ensure Arsene Wenger’s side are in confident mood ahead of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea.
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