Jan 122009
 

Arsenal 1 (Bendtner 84) Bolton 0
(Premiership)

That was dull, wasn’t it? Don’t get me wrong – that isn’t a complaint of any sort, after seeing some of the more comedic efforts of our defence this season, a George Graham-esque 1-0 victory, the second in succession, is very welcome. But it certainly made for painful viewing.

The first hour can be all but written off, because everything of note happened in the closing frantic stages. Adebayor, not having one of his best days (or periods, for that matter) had one effort, Van Persie, who by contrast is playing superbly at present, hit the post with his right foot, and Bendtner, on as a substitute, almost did what he did to Spurs last season and head a winner with his first touch.

Had he buried the chance rather than aim it straight at Jaaskelainen, he may have been spared the attention of the boo-boys in the crowd, who have now moved on from Eboue to make him the current scapegoat. While he does have a lazy gait, Bendtner does have real potential, and it is becoming a sad theme that we’re blocking the progress of our own players by hassling them from such a young age. I just can’t make sense of it. Every time he missed a pass, he was jeered, and every time he completed one, the ironic cheers rang out. That is treatment you joyfully give to the opposition players, not your own.

The Dane had the last laugh though (as if it should be a battle), showing a great deal of commitment to fling himself at a late Van Persie cross and slide the ball home for a vital three points, even more so given Villa and Everton’s victories. We were lucky not to concede immediately though, some appalling defending giving Davies the chance to level things within a minute, but fortunately he fluffed it straight at Almunia.

Since the match, Davies has proceeded to moan at the Arsenal players for making too much of his challenges, ironic in the extreme given how brutally he goes about his business. Aside from the reckless challenge that could’ve broken Clichy’s leg a few months ago, he is no angel, despite Gary Megson’s pre match pleas that he is the most fouled player in the Premiership, a claim that isn’t remotely true – the top three fouled players in the league are Arteta, Young and Ronaldo, and they are miles clear.

Also, Davies has committed the second highest number of fouls in the league (57), behind only Fellaini (67),  while last season he was second for the entire campaign (86) behind Carew (100). Davies is in fact on course to a century of fouls this season, putting paid to the idea that he is more sinned against than sinner. Before last season, Davies’ record was even worse, as Opta pointed out in the summer:

John Carew committed the most fouls (100) [in 2007/08] ending Kevin Davies’ reign as the foul-king – the Bolton man has committed the most in the last four seasons, but this campaign saw him finish second behind the Norwegian.

But to honest, this is all water off a duck’s back, for one simple reason. Bolton used to be so infuriating because their clearly illegal approach was actually effective, and meant we’d regularly lose to them. But they are a shadow of that team now, and for all Davies’ bleating, we can ignore him because over two matches this season they never really threatened us. And that makes them, and him, all rather irrelevant.

In the wake of a performance that was not exactly inspiring, consider that, for once, we’ve actually managed the double over Bolton.

Enjoy your Monday.

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