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English Premiership

Gunners fire back to go top

LONDON, January 21- Arsenal fought back from two goals down to go top of the Premier League with a controversial 4-2 win over Bolton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger’s title chasers were stunned when Gary Cahill put Bolton ahead before Matthew Taylor increased the visitors’ lead with a first-half penalty.

But Tomas Rosicky’s strike brought Arsenal back into the match and a piece of debatable refereeing from Alan Wiley allowed the Gunners to equalise through Cesc Fabregas.

Wiley waved play on despite William Gallas’s ugly stamp on Mark Davies and Arsenal, ignoring Bolton’s protests, took full advantage as Fabregas levelled.

Thomas Vermaelen’s goal completed Arsenal’s revival before Andrey Arshavin struck to send the north Londoners above previous leaders Chelsea on goals scored.

Chelsea have a game in hand on Arsenal, but Wenger’s men will fancy their chances of winning the title race if they continue to play with this kind of spirit.

With pole position up for grabs, Arsenal needed a repeat of the dominant display that saw them cruise to a 2-0 win at Bolton on Sunday.

But the Gunners were caught cold in the seventh minute as woeful defending allowed Bolton to snatch a shock lead.

French left-back Gael Clichy started the comedy of errors when he miscued a clearance high into the air, then Vermaelen allowed Kevin Davies to out-jump him on the edge of the area and the rest of the Arsenal defence stood statuesque as Cahill pounced to drive the knock-down past Manuel Almunia.

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Fabregas should have equalised moments later when Rosicky’s pass picked out the Arsenal captain but, with only Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat, he shot weakly at the Finn.

While Arsenal were beginning to carve open Bolton’s back four, their own defence still looked far from impregnable and it needed a fine stop from Almunia to keep out Taylor’s low free-kick.

Even the warning of that narrow escape went unheeded and the Gunners pressed the self-destruct button again in the 28th minute.

Lee Chung-Yong posed no immediate threat when he took possession inside the penalty area, yet Denilson betrayed his lack of recent action with a poorly-timed lunge that floored the South Korean and left Wiley with no option but to award a penalty.

Almunia, diving low to his left, got both hands to Taylor’s spot-kick but couldn’t stop it trickling in.

Wenger must have feared Arsenal’s luck was out when Kevin Davies accidently headed Fabregas’s free-kick past Jaaskelainen, only for the ball to hit the crossbar and bounce to safety.

But Rosicky gave Arsenal a lifeline on the stroke of half-time. Taking Fabregas’s flick in his stride, the Czech midfielder burst into the penalty area and, from an acute angle, smashed a fierce strike past Jaaskelainen at his near post.

Wenger’s side may have been poor at the back but there was never any question that they were capable of fashioning an equaliser. It came in controversial circumstances in the 52nd minute.

Gallas caught Mark Davies on the ankle with a crude challenge that left the Bolton midfielder writhing in agony.

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It looked a clear foul but Wiley played on and, despite Bolton’s protests, Gallas did just that.

The ball was eventually worked into Fabregas via Arshavin and a fortunate deflection and the Spaniard calmly placed his shot through Jaaskelainen’s legs.

As Fabregas and company celebrated, Bolton’s players surrounded Wiley to complain. Their anger only increased when Davies was eventually stretchered off.

Arsenal were an irresistible force now. In the 65th minute, Diaby headed a corner down towards Vermaelen and the Belgian defender had time to pick his spot and smash Arsenal into the lead.

Bolton’s spirit had been shattered and Arshavin ensured Arsenal would take first place when he took Eduardo’s flick and fired gleefully past Jaaskelainen in the 85th minute.



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