RVP fires double for Gunners
Winger pulls up with hamstring injury
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: 25/09/11 10:31am
Van Persie: The Dutchman's brace marked his 100th goal of the season which killed off ten man Bolton
Robin van Persie made it 100 goals for Arsenal as the Dutchman bagged a brace against ten-man Bolton Wanderers.
The hosts seemed like two different sides as they turned a lacklustre first half into a blistering second.
Bolton could have gone ahead in the first few minutes of the game but Wojciech Szczesny expertly parried Darren Pratley's volley wide.
It then took less than 40 seconds after the restart for Arsenal to pounce as Van Persie latched on to Aaron Ramsey's ball and drilled his effort inside Jussi Jaaskelainen's near post.
Chris Eagles had a great chance to equalise but seemed to run out of legs as Kieran Gibbs managed to force the winger wide and in turn meant his shot at Szczesny was weak.
David Wheater then found himself facing a straight red, despite a superb game for the centre-back, after the last man pulled down Theo Walcott.
That decision galvanised Arsenal who went two-up when Walcott worked the ball towards the byline and pulled it back to Van Persie who had the simplest of tap-ins.
Alex Song made sure of the points as he shifted Bacary Sagna's ball on to his right foot and crisply struck the ball into the back of the net.
Despite the result, the game was marred by man-of-the-match Walcott's injury who could not continue after pulling up with a knee problem.
There were signs at the start of the game that Arsenal were going to put in another poor performance in front of their home crowd after beginning nervously and inviting Wanderers to attack their previously shaky back four.
Bolton, who left Gary Cahill at home through illness and Kevin Davies on the bench, will be made to rue that missed chance by Pratley six yards out but in all fairness Szczesny pulled off a brilliant save.
Wheater then just missed a glancing header from eight yards before Arsenal finally went up a gear.
Mikel Arteta was given space in midfield and sent Gervinho through with a brilliant pass, but the striker's first touch was poor and Jaaskelainen smothered.
Van Persie then came within inches of handing Arsenal the lead in the tenth minute when he picked up Arteta's lay-off from a free-kick and lashed a decent curling effort just wide of Bolton's far-post.
Davies, who was dropped in favour of David Ngog, was soon introduced after the Frenchman went off with a head injury following a clash of heads with Laurent Koscielny.
The hosts' fans became increasingly frustrated when Arsenal failed to string together more than three or four passes with Bolton looking the more likely to open the scoring.
Gervinho wasted a good chance when he blasted over from 20 yards before Koscielny tried an ambitious scissor-kick which came off his shin and harmlessly went wide of the target.
Blocks by Paul Robinson and Wheater ensured that the Trotters defence remained unbreached by the half-time whistle - greeted by some boos from the home fans.
The Gunners then seemed to turn into a different team and took no time at all to break the deadlock when Van Persie raced clear down the left and drilled home past Jaaskelainen's near post for his 99th goal for the club.
Jaaskelainen was then called into action some more and managed to save well from Van Persie.
Wanderers' task of getting back into the game was made even harder when Wheater was given a straight red for pulling back Walcott who was through on goal in the 55th minute.
Former Everton playmaker Arteta came close to doubling their lead with a side-footed effort that crept just wide.
Jaaskelainen then had to block well from the Spaniard who looks a fine addition to the Arsenal contingent.
That effort spurred on a counter-attack by Bolton when Martin Petrov expertly found Eagles, but the winger hit a weak effort straight at Szczesny.
Jaaskelainen had to scamper across his line to deny Van Persie and was then tested by a powerful Koscielny volley as Arsenal began their onslaught.
With 20 minutes left Van Persie brought up his Arsenal ton and gave the Gunners the two-goal cushion they needed.
Walcott was the provider after he beat his marker down the right and crossed low for the Dutchman who flicked the ball past Jaaskelainen from five yards.
Walcott should have made it 3-0 when he raced through after a brilliant ball by Song but the England winger, with Fabio Capello watching in the stands, failed to test Jaaskelainen who palmed his weak effort wide.
Only a crucial block from Zat Knight prevented Van Persie from scoring his hat-trick with six minutes left before the former Feyenoord man came off to a standing ovation when he was replaced by Marouane Chamakh.
The rout was completed two minutes from time when Sagna's ball was met by Song, who cracked a wonderful curler past Jaaskelainen to make it 3-0.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Bolton Wanderers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|10||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||0|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||38||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||38||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||30|