Apr 25, 2011

Cohen kills off Arsenal hopes

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Man of the Match: Daniel Sturridge. His touch and vision posed a big threat in and out of the box, making two great chances for Lee before pouncing for the opening goal.
Moment of the Match: Tamir Cohen's emotional tribute to his late father after scoring the last-gasp winner which dashed Arsenal's title hopes.
Save of the Match: Wojciech Szczesny's block to deny Chung-Yong Lee from close range in the first half.
Miss of the Match: Samir Nasri had a great chance to put Arsenal in front when clean through with 20 minutes left but he fired too close to Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Talking Point: How much longer should Arsene Wenger be given at Arsenal? Are his players chokers or simply just not good enough?Arsenal's title hopes are now surely over after Tamir Cohen's late winner gave Bolton a 2-1 victory at the Reebok Stadium.

Daniel Sturridge gave the hosts a deserved 38th-minute lead, although Gary Cahill's initial effort may have crossed the line first.

The visitors, who needed to win to close the gap on league leaders Manchester United, looked set to go 2-0 down when Sturridge won a penalty just 30 seconds into the second half.

But Kevin Davies' tame effort was saved by Wojciech Szczesny and just a minute later Robin van Persie amazingly drew Arsenal level with a well-worked equaliser.

The Gunners then spurned a host of chances to go in front, with Samir Nasri the biggest culprit, before Bolton sub Cohen headed home from Matt Taylor's 90th-minute corner.

The Israeli midfielder then removed his shirt to reveal a picture of his late father Avi, the former Liverpool player who died in December following a motorcycle accident, before breaking down in tears.

That left Arsenal's title bid in tatters, as although they host United next Sunday, they are now nine points adrift of the Red Devils with four games left. Now only second-placed Chelsea have any realistic hope of denying United the Premier League crown.

The first half was a familiar story for Arsenal fans, with Arsene Wenger's men bossing possession but struggling to create clear-cut opportunities, while Bolton's more direct approach paid dividends.

Theo Walcott saw a shot parried by Jussi Jaaskelainen early on and Nasri's follow-up effort was blocked by a combination of Cahill and Zat Knight.

The Gunners' pace looked to be their greatest threat and from a quick break, Cesc Fabregas forced Jaaskelainen to turn a 25-yard effort round the post.

Bolton were giving as good as they got, though, and they probably should have been ahead in the 24th minute when Sturridge caught the Arsenal defence napping with a superb through ball for Lee Chung-yong but he flicked the ball inside for Taylor and Alex Song cleared the danger when Lee should have gone alone.

The Korean midfielder had another golden chance in the 37th minute, with Sturridge again the architect courtesy of a lovely chip into the box from the right, but Szczesny blocked Lee's shot.

There was no denying Bolton from the resulting corner, though, as Lee's delivery was headed goalwards by Cahill and, although Nasri blocked it at the far post, Sturridge was on hand to convert a diving header from barely two yards for his seventh goal in nine games for Bolton.

Fabregas almost levelled things before the break but his 20-yard drive cannoned off a post with Jaaskelainen well beaten, and things got worse moments after the restart.

Sturridge's neat turn took him past Johan Djourou and referee Mike Jones pointed to the penalty spot when the on-loan Chelsea striker went down under pressure from Djourou.

It was perhaps a harsh decision but the Gunners will have felt justice was done when Bolton skipper Kevin Davies dinked a tame effort down the middle and Szczesny easily blocked the spot-kick.

Then barely a minute later, Van Persie picked up the ball on the right and played a one-two with Fabregas before sweeping the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

It was the seventh successive away game in which the Dutch striker had scored, setting a new Premier League record.

Nasri then ran on to Van Persie's superb through-ball in the 65th minute to go clean through but Jaaskelainen made himself big to block Nasri's shot, with Cahill tracking back to block Nasri's second effort from a wide angle.

Nasri would have had another glorious chance within a minute had he latched onto a knock-down by sub Marouane Chamakh, before the Frenchman snatched at another effort down the right when he had time to control.

Bolton defended superbly as Arsenal pressed and it was the hosts who created the clear-cut chance Arsenal craved when Johan Elmander got in behind Djourou down the right to charge into the box before seeing his shot turned wide by Szczesny.

And Djourou was at fault again from the resulting corner as Cohen got in front of the Swiss centre-back to head Taylor's corner home at the near post.

Cohen broke down in tears as he was mobbed by his team-mates but it was Arsenal who were left distraught moments later as Jones blew the final whistle.



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