Arsenal 2-1 Bolton Wanderers
Henry 26, Kanu 95
Farrelly 47
Seaman, Lauren, Keown, Campbell, Cole, Wiltord, Parlour, Gilberto, Ljungberg, Kanu Henry
Jaaskelainen, Bergsson, Whitlow, Barness, Charlton, Campo, Frandsen, Farrelly, Djorkaeff, Holdsworth, Pedersen
Jeffers (Ljungberg 86), Bergkamp (Wiltord 68), Toure (Laruen 84), Luzhny, Shaaban
Ricketts (Pedersen HT), Okocha (Holdsworth 65), Tofting (Djorkaeff 81), Livesey, Poole
Yellow : Keown 19
Yellow : Campo 8 80, Bergsson 12, Holdsworth 55, Jaaskelainen 83
Red: Campo 80 (two yellow)
Gareth Farrelly's Goal
Click to view

And so Bolton run of games against last seasons top three is over. And, despite only gaining three points from those three games - a haul which I have to say I had set as a target before the first one kicked off - Boltn can feel themselves very unlucky. Beaten by a last minute goal against Liverpool, they then took a patched up side to Highbury but managed to play well enough to earn a draw, only to once again suffer defeat to a last minute (indeed, some are suggesting after last minute) goal.

So, a very unfamiliar side took the field against Arsenal. The back four was more or less to be expected, but midfield had been devastated - both Nolan and Gardner were out with injuries that will see them miss several weeks. In fact, so thin were Bolton's resources that Ivan Campo began his first full game playing in midfield! Up front Ricketts was not quite match fit, so the rather... industrial pairing of Holdsworth and Pedersen started up front.

Such a makeshift side would surely have seemed easy points to the gunners side riding a wave of confidence and indeed it took only 15 minutes to forge a breakthough, Bergsson manhandling Henry in the area and ref David Pugh gave the penalty. However last year's Golden Boot was unable to convert it, striking the ball against the post and away. It was only a warning shot though and after 25 minutes Ljunberg slotted a ball through to Henry who rounded Jaaskelainen and rolled the ball in. Not that it was all one way, Holdsworth and Pedersen combined to make serveal chances and Djorkaeff was active, but Keown and Campbell proved a wall to wide to bypass and the first half finished with Arsenal ahead.

If the gooners expected a sedate stroll towards three points, they were to get a severe shock soon after half time. Charlton played a pass through to Farrelly on the left wing and he crossed the ball past Parlour towards the back post. The ball looped over David Seaman - Anyone else getting a sense of Deja Vu? - into the far corner. Bolton were level, although you have to say it was a fluke. However you have to also say that Seaman's vulnerability to high balls is becoming a bit of an embaressment and as an England fan I'm not entirely sure I want him as a number one for the next two years thank you very much.

The second half saw a lot of Arsenal pressure but Bolton were holding out and looked reasonable value for a point. The turning point was not the last goal but in the 80th minute Ivan Campo rolled the ball back to Jaaskelainen rather than giving it to an Arsenal player, maybe wanting a chance to get the trainer on for Simon Charlton who was down injured. Campo had been booked very early for dissent. Pugh obviously saw his actions as time wasting and, despite Bolton having a player down and receiving treatment, gave Campo a second yellow and sent him off. After that, it was merely luck whether Bolton held on with 10 minutes to go and it turned out not to be, as deep into injury time Kanu managed to stub home the second goal from six yards out after Henry had knocked the ball down to him.

At this point, the next partagraph will seem like sour grapes. However, if you look at most reports on here you will find I'm not prone to criticism of match officials. From all the accounts I've heard, David Pugh did everything except kick the ball himself to ensure an Arsenal win. The second goal came in the 95th minute and I have heard no report that suggests 5 minutes of injury time sounded justified. Henry was in an offside position for the second Arsenal goal (and, given he was stood right in front of Jaaskelainen, could clearly be defined as 'active') and apparently Pugh became very meticulous about timekeeping - booking Campo and Jaaskelainen for timewasting - in the last 15 minutes, when Arsenal were pushing for a second goal. I'm not inclined to suggest any ulterior motive on Pugh's part and it wasn't a performance to rank with Barry Knights infamous incompetence in the Portman Road playoff semi but most of the reports I've seen - in the press that have no axe to grind in Bolton's favour - suggests the Wanderers didn't get anything approaching the rub of the green.

As I say, I don't want to end on sour grapes. There is no shame in only losing to Arsenal to a last minute goal. It could be said that, given they have played the top 3 sides in 3 weeks and played all three to within an inch of their lives, we can take a lot of credit for our lack of fear, willingness to match supposedly superior teams and good football. But we still only have 3 points from games that, amazing as it sounds even now, we took 7 points from last season. If Wanderers can maintain the same level of performance those lost four points will soon be harvested from lesser premiership teams but if Bolton suffer from only raising their game when the glamour sides come to town, they may look back on the last two minutes of the last two games as moments on which their season hinged.