Arsenal beat Bolton 4-2 to top Premier League

Updated: 21 January 2010 15:56 IST

Arsenal recovered from two goals down on Wednesday to beat Bolton 4-2 and go top of the Premier League.


Arsenal recovered from two goals down on Wednesday to beat Bolton 4-2 and go top of the Premier League.

Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas pulled Arsenal level after Bolton had surged into a surprise 2-0 lead. Defender Thomas Vermaelen made it 3-2 with a fierce shot and with five minutes left Andrei Arshavin scored the goal that put Arsenal into first place on goal difference.

It was the first time Arsenal has recovered from 2-0 down to win a Premier League game in almost two years _ the last was against the same opponent _ and confirmed the impression that Arsenal is a genuine contender for a first Premier League title since 2004.

"We believe we have a real chance," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It is important to keep a good balance between humility, keeping our keep on the ground, and ambition and desire."

Arsenal joined Chelsea _ which has a game in hand _ on 48 points, one more than defending champion Manchester United. Tottenham stayed in fourth place despite a 2-0 loss at Liverpool.

Also Wednesday, Aston Villa reached the League Cup final after rallying from 2-0 down to beat Blackburn 6-4. Villa won the first match of the two-legged semifinal 1-0 and advanced to the Feb. 28 final 7-4 on aggregate.

Arsenal is unbeaten in the league since November but was helped on Wednesday by a contentious goal, with Bolton's players and coaching team angry about the circumstances that led to the 52nd-minute equalizer.

Bolton midfielder Mark Davies was lying injured by what looked to be a dangerous challenge from defender William Gallas, who stretched to regain possession after giving away the ball but instead stamped Davies' ankle.

"It was nearer a red card than anything else," Bolton manager Owen Coyle said. "Arsenal is full of fair players, or so we keep hearing, but they carried on."

Rather than kick the ball out to allow Davies to be treated, Arsenal played on and the ball fell to Fabregas at the edge of the area. The Spain midfielder darted between two players, pushed it past the lunging challenge of a third and finished with a shot through the goalkeeper's legs from a narrow angle.

"It was a bad tackle," Coyle said. "I could accept if William Gallas had got a bit of the ball. But he's touched absolutely none of that ball. But I'm not making that an excuse. Even with 10 men, we could have defended that better."

Davies was carried from the field on a stretcher after several minutes of treatment for suspected ligament damage.

"I'm sorry if the tackle was not good," Wenger said. "I apologize. The players went on and they didn't know what's going on behind."

Wenger made just two changes from team that won 2-0 at Bolton on Saturday, strengthening his side with the introduction of Gael Glichy and Denilson.

Abou Diaby and Arshavin both went close for the home side before Gary Cahill put Bolton ahead in the seventh minute after Diaby and Clichy failed to clear the ball from the area.

Clichy hacked the ball into the air, Bolton captain Kevin Davies headed back toward goal and Cahill scored with low shot from close range.

Matt Taylor scored 11 minutes later with a penalty awarded for Denilson's late challenge on Lee Chung-yong and Arsenal looked to be in big trouble until Rosicky scored in the 44th.

Rosicky carried ball into area, took a touch to earn a little space in front of defender Zat Knight and hit a powerful right-foot shot past goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen at the near post.

Fabregas equalized after more pressure and Vermaelen put the Gunners ahead for the first time with a 12-yard (meter) shot after the ball rebounded to him.

Arsenal looked like it would have to settle for second place in the standings but Arshavin took advantage of a favorable bounce to dodge a challenge and slip the ball past Jaaskelainen for 4-2.

Dirk Kuyt scored at the start and the end to give Liverpool victory over a Tottenham side that had not conceded a goal for six matches.

For the sixth-minute opener, Italy midfielder Alberto Aquilani controlled a long kick by goalkeeper Jose Reina on his chest and slipped a pass to Kuyt as the Netherlands forward ran past him.

Kuyt shot past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes into the bottom corner and then scored an injury-time penalty to move Liverpool to sixth place, just a point behind of Tottenham.

Villa trailed 2-0 to two goals by Nikola Kalinic in the first 26 minutes but advanced to its first final of any competition since 2000 with goals by six different players.

Stephen Warnock, James Milner, Steven N'Zonzi with an own goal, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey put Villa 5-2 ahead and, although Martin Olsson and Brett Emerton made things uncomfortable for the home side with goals for Blackburn, Ashley Young completed the scoring in the 90th minute.

Topics : Football Chelsea Arsenal
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