Arsenal 4-1 Bolton: Arsenal win handsomely, but you wouldn’t know it.

I recently made the move from Brisbane to Berlin to live meaning, among other things, a change in the environment with which I watch the Arsenal play.

For years my local stomping ground for watching Arsenal games has been the Pig ‘n’ Whistle but that has since changed to The Oscar Wilde Irish Pub . As the name would suggest, it is a typical Irish pub filled with English and Irish ex-pats who travel to Berlin for a party weekend, mixed with a handful of local Berliners and Europeans who have moved to Berlin permanently and want a place to watch English football.

One of the biggest gripes about watching football at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle was the number of Australians who, in a state of wanting to look cultured, would swear pointlessly at the big screen, bate opposing supporters in the pub or make nonsense statements like “we need to shoot more often from outside the box”. It got a bit tedious from time to time despite a huge number of fellow Arsenal fans, many of which I now call my friends, making the experience worthwhile.

Since my move to Berlin I have watched Arsenal play at The Oscar four times. Each time the games have been different and each time the people watching the game in the pub have been different. But I have noticed one thing that remains constant: the fans from the UK seem to have a bloody hard time enjoying an Arsenal game. In fact, it seems they simply don’t know how to enjoy an Arsenal game.

Arsenal beat Bolton 4-1 on Saturday. 4-1. That’s four goals to one goal. But judging from the mood of the Arsenal fans at The Oscar, you would have thought the goal Bolton scored was worth five.

The worst culprit was a young Arsenal supporter, watching with his much more polite and intelligent friend, who yelled expletives at every misguided pass, berated Andrey Arshavin for failing to score twice and, get this, whacked a coaster holder onto the floor when Bolton scored their equaliser. His half-time analysis consisted of statements like “our defence is sh*t, why couldn’t Wenger buy better defenders”.

Inevitably he was more than happy to cheer like a loony when Chamakh, Song and Vela scored the goals that saw off a very physical Bolton side, but by then the damage had been done. He and a host of others in the pub had created such a foul mood while the game was up for grabs that I was almost disappointed to see them get the opportunity to be happy.

Of course with every cloud there is a silver lining and at The Oscar on Saturday that came in the form of Julien, an intelligent and engaging Frenchman who thoroughly enjoyed the game and took particular enjoyment from the performances of Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky.

As for the game itself, there was so much to be happy about.

As Julien cleverly observed the combination between Cesc and Rosicky was superb and as much as it sounds cliched, with the Czech man in this sort of form it is like having two Cescs.

Sebastien Squillaci had a great debut, both defensively and with the ball at his feet, and his partner at the back Koscielny impressed again. The “Bolton’s-goals-are-worth-five-goals” supporters will point to his mistake for the equaliser but for me the more important thing was his reaction to his error and just as at Blackburn, it was positive.

Koscielny scores the opener

There is something particularly endearing about Koscielny. He plays with a smile and despite an incredible rise to prominence does not give off the vibe of being the least bit overwhelmed. In his on-field half-time chat with Manuel Almunia, just ten minutes after gifting Bolton their equaliser he looked happy and relaxed, a man so far away from the error as if to have forgotten it. Leaving aside his undoubted ability to anticipate opposition passes (he made 9 interceptions on Saturday), Koscielny’s cool temperament appears to be his best attribute.

The biggest negative of the game was undoubtedly Paul Robinson’s tackle on Abou Diaby, which forced the substitute to be substituted and will likely see him out of the game for at least a few weeks. How Robinson got away with the tackle is anyone’s guess: it was absolutely horrible and Diaby is so, so lucky not to have broken his leg. That he wanted to get up and deck Robinson was completely understandable. That Match of the Day failed to show the incident in their coverage was not.

At the end of the day Arsenal won this game 4-1 and that is as convincing a victory as anyone posted in the Premier League over the weekend. We are currently sitting second on the table, two points behind Chelsea and two points ahead of Manchester United. Interestingly, just one point behind them are mighty Blackpool whose 6-0 loss at The Emirates has been their only defeat since gaining promotion.

Injuries aside things are going very well indeed for Arsenal. But you wouldn’t know it at The Oscar.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Bolton by leaving a comment.



  1. Good post Andy, thanks.
    I agree with your frustration at the negativity from fellow Gooners. I do not understand how supporting one of the prettiest teams in the world can be such a trial to them. Shouting abuse to your own team from the stands is nonsense at every level. I suppose these people are victims of the success and style AW has brought to the club, but do you really want to support any other team by undermining ours?
    Why do you think Almunia has looked so shaky between the posts? Maybe because he gets booed almost as much as our friends Diouf or Bentley. By all means urge him to do better but nobody will improve if you change “CCCUUMMMMMON MANUEL” for “YOURE SH*T”.

  2. V. Interesting. I just assumed that any experience watching football in Europe would be much better than in oz. I guess location isn’t everything, it’s about being surrounded by intelligent, game-loving kindred spirits 🙂

  3. MotD coverage has always been limited due to time constraints and they openly admit they would prefer to show extended highlights of every prem game, but in this instance together with their blatant ignorance, even cover-up towards poor tackling throughout the league only exacerbates the ingrained problem. The grass-roots english game has a serious problem at the moment with it’s technical ability which is made evident at all levels and shows through especially with the (lack of) ability to tackle. The media as a whole choose to defend the culprits, returning to the out-dated and lunatic excuse that ‘that is just how the game is played here’. MotD are in the prime position having the most popular, most viewed and respected terrestrial coverage of epl games where they can at least show the game for what it is yet they choose to purposefully ignore it. As you can tell this whole thing just pisses me off so i think i’m going to quit my rant now and go make a cup of tea.
    Andrew, Hope you enjoy Berlin, it’s a fantastic city to live in and i recommend going to see one of the local teams play if you get the chance.

  4. Good to hear I’m speaking for a few others. I had hoped this was the case. I just hope I don’t sound too pompous or “high-horsey” making the comments.

  5. @ Otter – There’s certainly better experiences, but mostly it’s about the company you keep. There’s more possibility to meet kindred spirits but not everyone is like that, like you say.

    To quote ‘2Ups’ song ‘Why Do I Try So Hard?’ (and I hope this is the last time I ever have to refer to Australian hip-hop): “…there’s dicks in every part of the world you see…”

  6. @ Viejo – I’ve already been to a couple of Hertha BSC games. They are second division German games and they pull a bigger crowd than Chelsea! It’s brilliant. Did you also live here at some point? Any other advice?

  7. Interesting piece, thankyou

    I think I watched the ManUre v Arsenal game in that same pub last year, is it just near the central station?

    I was at The Emirates on Saturday with my dad, always a good thing as he rarely comes with me but whenever he does, we tend to win handsomely (3 years ago, he came to 4 matches with me, saw us score at least 20 and concede just 1!).

    there was much to be happy about on Saturday, I totally agree that you have picked out probably my top 3 ‘good things’ too; Rosicky, Koscielny and Squillaci. Although Almunia seeming to grow in confidence is also up there, along with the way that Chamakh seems to have ‘done a Vermaelen’ by managing to look as if he’s been at the club forever after just a few games.

  8. Good article, Andy. I know exactly what you mean.

    I was at the Blackburn away game and our away crowd, as always, were creating a brilliant atmosphere. But at one point a guy jumped up and started screaming obscenities about Almunia, “go back to Spain” and that sort of thing. Considering the high balls into the box and physical game that our keeper faced that day, I thought he did really well – particularly due to the pressure he is under. But despite a good game he, and many of our players, seem to be always one mistake away from such a response (from certain fans).

  9. @ Andrew, No, I’ve only visited friends who live over there and they took me to a Hertha BSC game once which i loved, really impressed with the stadium and quality of football. I always like to watch local teams play in foreign countries because you see a whole different side of the people and their passion. I started off with Napoli not long after Maradona left and when the streets were still painted blue and the euphoria still pulsed around the city, and then more recently i lived out in Buenos Aires on the la Boca side of town where the stadium atmosphere was just immense, Seriously Immense! In both those cities life was heavily flavoured by the football and my life enhanced by the experience, not to mention the friends made through sharing their passions. I never felt like i supported any other club completely like i do the Arsenal though. First and only love i guess!

    Just read Arseblogs morning post and saw how similar it was to my rant above, and i’d just like to say in no way did i copy him and it must be a case of great minds in tune. Actually we’re probably all thinking along the same lines anyway. We’re all Great minds =P

  10. @ Viejo – We are all thinking the same thing. Of course seeing the local sides play is exactly what it’s all about. It’s also one of my major projects for this year: see Football Nomad ( for details, it will very much interest you. My brother and I traveled around Europe and South Africa for the World Cup filming fan culture of the World Cup for the launch of the concept. Have a play around with the blog and let me know what you think.

  11. Awful! Just awful! – I’m talking of course about Alex Song’s barnet which makes him look like ‘Mrs Brady Old lady’ (Viz comic) Everything else about The Arsenal was brilliant. It was a smashing, stirring show all round. Arshavin – brilliant. Rosicky – brilliant. Fabregas -brilliant. Gibbs – brilliant. Koscielny brilliant. Chamakh-brilliant. Everyone else very very good – including Almunia. Yes.
    So I was startled to read match reports afterwards suggesting the game was in anyway balanced. We played them right off the park and they only scored through a f*ck up. I finally found the voice of sanity at The Independent – ‘although missing Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen through injury, Wenger’s men were seldom in trouble.’
    The last goal, Vela’s, was ridiculous. Only Arsenal can score a goal like that. This was a truly heartening performance and with the 3 new guys in the mix we really do look tougher. Only 4 games gone but I think we’ve got some genuine bite back. And listen – where have all the whingers gone? It’s all gone quiet over there.

    Andrew, I think you may have been unlucky with your pub choices, mate. I’ve watched Gunners games in pubs where we’ve lost and still had all the supporters cheering til the end. Maybe it’s just the mood of the moment?

  12. Hey Andy,
    Have a nice time in Berlin.
    I can totally understand and relate to what you have said.
    We have screenings here in Bangalore, India and this stuff happens all the time which takes away the joy of watching.
    Looking forward to a great season !

  13. It’s looking like it’s going to be a good season for the Arsenal. The test will come later in the season when the annual injury crisis hits and the depth is tested however.
    It’s a law of nature that alcohol makes normally sane people say and do things they wouldn’t normally say or do when sober. Especially during an emotion charged football game. I’d suggest not watching the game at a pub if you want to avoid the wallies.

  14. Hey Andrew, great post….. always a pleasure. Can we have a Braga preview please?????

    A question also @Suhas…. Where in Bangalore do you watch the games… I’ve only moved here a month ago and do not know where they screen the games…

  15. Interesting statistic for you – at home, in 9 games, we have conceded just 2 goals and kept 7 clean sheets. That’s all I’m going to say about goalkeepers today. Apart from, hilariously, there are still those that blame Almunia for Bolton’s goal (and it was hardly his fault). There are also those who point to Koscielny’s error as a sign of our impending relegation. If you think either of those things you’re an idiot – On the subject of Kevin Davies, the meat headed no talent hack, how the hell did he not get sent off twice in the first half? First on Rosicky and then Wilshere? Both challenges were far worse than Cahill’s. Cahill’s challenge was poor, late, two footed and from behind but there was actually a fairly good chance of him winning the ball if Chamakh hadn’t have backheeled it. I felt at the time and still do, that whilst I fully understand and support the red for discouraging two footed challenges from behind, that it was a harsh sending off. Davies on the other hand went in twice with the intent of hurting the other player, he even lifted his studs on Wilshere after the ball had gone. And yet he only got a yellow after both? He should have then received a second yellow (and therefore a red) after headbutting Koscielny – again, the ball had already gone, but he dropped his shoulder and head anyway. You can’t always stop your momentum, but you don’t have to offer the hardest bits of your body to hurt the opposition. Cretin.

    Squillaci – he slotted right in didn’t he? There were a few moments where I thought ‘RUH OH!’ but the lads at the back, considering we had Eboue defending playing up front at RB, did incredibly well to recover from any dicey situations. Not that there were many, because defending starts at the front. Don’t lose the ball, win it back in the middle and finally drop back to block – all these things make defending far easier than it otherwise would be, and all of these things we did well.
    You’ve probably read that the Arsenal move that led to our 4th goal comprised of 24 passes, a record in this seasons Premier League so far. What most people have missed was that the move was started by the eventual goalscorer Vela. It was Vela that won the ball in the centre of the park, tracking back to win it after a pass in his direction came up short. That’s what crowned the move for me, Vela getting stuck in and winning the ball, as much as the passes and the impeccable assist from Fabregas. Lovely to see the hunger of the young man – let’s face it, he’ll probably be up front on his own if Chamakh also gets an injury. Much has been said about Chelsea looking amazing again, and sure they do. But they’ve played Wigan, Stoke, WBA and West Ham – 4 teams you would have expected them to comfortably beat. Don’t get me wrong, they look incredibly strong, but I’m going to reserve total judgement until they play United et al.

  16. So far,I have just seen Bundesliga in TV and now after all Andrew described, I really want to sit in those stadiums and watch the game.I never seen a Bundesliga game which lacks crowd support.This is what I love about German football.Offcourse,Berlin and Dortmund are the two stadiums I really want to visit.Again, it was very interesting to read.Thanks Andrew.

    Well,I enjoyed the Arsenal game,but half of fans have left the arena before the game ended.Whatever,another injury.One is getting injured each and every week.

  17. Very interesting article weber
    I looked at the game again and wenger’s comment that two years ago arsenal would not take 6 points from bolton and rovers is true. The physical presents that kolochenly brings is the main reason. Before with galas and vemerlyn kevin davise would win every arial battle while galas and co could only fight for second ball when ball were lofted into our box now kolochenly is a imposing presents (still makes errors but allowed some time to get in ) so the first ball is won negating the nodd on and flick on. This is the physical presents that we needed a long time ago it took wenger too long to figure this out. The nature of english football demands it at least one center back to be 6″ 2 that is a given if you can’t repel arial bombardment you won’t win this league full stop THE FANS TOLD YOU SO WENGER

    Now i have a concern might get some stick but what the hell
    Song played well yesterday even scored a goal but i have a problem with his positioning sometime for me as the main defensive midfielder he makes to much effort to by pass the midfield and score we hav’nt payed for it yet but mark my word we will i would think his job is to add an outlet pass to the back four and a back word pass on the diamond from the attacking front players always he must give a back word option to the attackers
    But I’v watched him closely and even checked some games from last season to see his position and it is a concern he wants to attack and some times gives up his space am not saying he should not score goals but i would prefer to see a clean sheet than song scoring a lot of goals because we have players who can do this . The reason why i looked at this is simple this season i think song’s performance will determine arsenal’s season and if we win the title or not mainly because our problems has not been scoring goals but letting in goals if we let in less that 25 goals this season we should do very well.
    GO ARSENAL……………
    Again song played well and its hard to see faults when you win but i’v been around a long time to get punched by this am very worried by his position some times take a look

  18. I was only able to catch the 2nd half. From what I saw, Kos and Squill looked pretty solid for their first pairing against a potentially tricky Bolton side. I loved how Vela took his chance and I hope Wenger considers him for more minutes. I don’t know what more he can do to earn them. But I was really surprised to see Song bombing forward. Excellent to see him get Wenger goal 1000. When will we get J’ammanuel’s take on Song’s “hair?”

  19. Just wanted to say a final thank-you to everyone for the comments in this post and also the whole start of the season. Ever since the re-launch the input from others has been positive and engaging and I really, really appreciate it. I’m also glad you’re all enjoying the new format and opinions.


  20. @Kel – I hope he doesn’t do that against a top team. I guess Song just wanted a goal for himself…maybe cos of a bet or two….I was equally concerned until he scored.
    The way the articles are ramming in, someone might just never comment cos before u know it, the next article is up. I guess its a very good way to cut out some crazy arguments but hey…..
    @HeyNonny – What is quiet? Aren’t we winning? U want people to comment even when we’re winning? Guess what? God forbid and Chamakh gets injured now and we get two draws in a row, u’ll see quiet. Better watch it and keep praying

  21. You must have read Fever Pitch and seen the movie Andrew. Being an Arsenal fan is sometimes a painful experience. A minority of Gooners will always have an Almunia, Eboue, Ian Ure, Perry Groves, or someone similar to bag. In my day it was Willie Young the useless big twat! Saturday was a typical Arsenal under Arsene Wenger match. Dominated the first half, should have been 4 or 5 up and then a moment of carelessness lets the opposition back in. Fortunately we killed them off in the second half this time but this has been a pattern for many seasons now. Does nothing for the blood pressure but I still keep coming back for more.

  22. @ Darragh – You’re part of the second part, if that makes sense. The good part.

    @ Terry – Yep, I’ve read the book. Just get frustrated when week-in, week-out, people struggle to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching football.

  23. What a wonderful article. I didn’t watch the match but i was following it through twitter. In such circumstances the match is how your friends or “followers” paint it for you. Fortunately i am following brilliant people and i seem to have got a better description of the game without watching it than you watching the game just because of that jerk! Ironical.

  24. Over the seasons one thing i diligently try and do is not speak when i am angry about a result or angry at some mistake. Because anger makes you blurt stupid things. I am pretty passionate but i hate people who overdo all this shouting because they “think” are passionate.

    Another habit which i hate is when supporters abuse our players. I love Arsenal to the core and i respect everything Arsenal. Whether it is Fab(regas) or Fab(ianski), i cant understand how someone who calls himself/herself a Gooner can abuse our own player. I can understand how one can feel someone is not good enough to be a part of our team as i do about some too but to abuse them is downright pathetic.

    We are the Gunners and we have the tradition of doing things the right way. Lets hope this negative behavioral trend disappears and the Arsenal culture and following which is spreading worldwide in this internet age does so with the tradition it brings with it rather than just being a number buildup!

  25. Was at the Emirates Saturday and unfortunately much of the anxiety expressed at the Pub was permeating through the clock end, at least in the first half. The supporters just didnt seem comfortable until the 3rd goal was potted, then and only then were the beautiful link ups and unselfish play fetted appropriately. Squillaci and Koscienly are looking very comfortable back there on Saturday and Wednesday. I look forward to seeing them tested against the big boys

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