Bolton 0 Arsenal 1
Christopher Wreh pushed Arsenal's dreams of a League and Cup Double one step
closer to reality with an outstanding winner against Bolton at the Reebok
The Gunners are now just three points behind Premiership leaders Manchester
United with the luxury of two games in hand, and manager Arsene Wenger must
believe the title is now theirs for the taking.
For Bolton, defeat was a major blow in their fight for top-flight survival
after wins in their two previous matches had given them a glimpse of an escape
route from the relegation zone.
Liberia international striker Wreh was Arsenal's unlikely hero. Only in the
team because of Ian Wright's injury and Dennis Bergkamp's suspension, Wreh
scored a stunning goal out of nothing.
Two minutes into the second half, Stephen Hughes passed the ball to Emmanuel
Petit, who flicked it on to Wreh in a seemingly innocuous position 25 yards out
with his back to goal. But in an instant, he had spun and hammered in an
unstoppable shot that Bolton goalkeeper Keith Branagan could only watch as it
flew into the roof of his net.
It was a goal Wreh's cousin George Weah would have been proud of, and his
acrobatic celebration would have made Faustino Asprilla jealous.
But there were also bad moments for Arsenal. Martin Keown was given his
marching orders in the 64th minute for his second bookable offence when fouling
Nathan Blake on the edge of the area - Bolton howled for a penalty - and Marc
Overmars could add to Arsenal's growing list of injuries and suspensions after
failing to reappear for the second half.
Bolton fought all the way and put Arsenal under intense pressure for the last
20 minutes, but they were always struggling to beat the imperious Gunners
defence and outstanding David Seaman.
England's first-choice goalkeeper showed his worth with a marvellous save from
Alan Thompson in the 70th minute. Thompson hit a venomous first-time shot with
his left foot and the ball was swerving towards Seaman's far post before the
keeper flung himself to divert the ball to safety.
Nicolas Anelka had chances to extend Arsenal's lead but was too often guilty
of wasting possession and trying the extravagant when he should have passed to
team-mates in better positions.
Wreh went off as soon as Keown was dismissed, another defensive rock in the
form of Steve Bould going on to shore up the Arsenal back division.
The final minutes were frantic. Thompson had another chance, Mark Fish
volleyed wide and Gudni Bergsson side-footed a weak effort from a corner
straight at Seaman.
Five of Arsenal's last six Premiership matches have ended in 1-0 victories -
the familiar refrain of "1-0 to the Arsenal" has never sounded so apt - and
they have not conceded a goal in the Premiership since January 17.
It is truly championship form, and now they have it all to do again in the FA
Cup semi-finals against Wolves on Sunday.
Bolton: Branagan, Cox, Fish, Thompson, Phillips (Johansen 86),
Bergsson, Sheridan, Todd (Salako 52), Frandsen, Blake,
Subs Not Used: Ward, Fairclough, Taylor.
Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Anelka (Platt 86),
Overmars (Hughes 45), Wreh (Bould 64), Keown, Parlour, Petit,
Subs Not Used: Manninger, Garde.
Sent Off: Keown (65).
Booked: Keown, Bould.
Goals: Wreh 47.
Ref: K W Burge (Tonypandy).