Tag Archives: Bolton Wanderers

Premier League Files: Jay-Jay Okocha

Premier League Career: Bolton Wanderers (2002-2006)

Jay-Jay Okocha was one of the stars of the Premier League in the early 2000s. His flair, panache and skill made him a player who could often do amazing things on the football pitch. Widely regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation, Okocha enjoyed a wonderful time on English shores for four seasons as a Bolton Wanderers player.

Okocha won 75 international caps for Nigeria and is one of the most iconic African players of all-time. He played at three World Cup finals, reaching the round-of-16 in both 1994 and 1998. He was also part of the Nigeria squad that stunned Argentina to win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in the football competition. Football runs through Okocha’s DNA. In fact, his nephew is Alex Iwobi who currently plays in the Premier League for Arsenal and is now a Nigerian international himself.

He started his career in Germany and joined Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1991. Frankfurt might have not won any Bundesliga titles but were a thrilling team to watch and often finished in the higher positions in the table. Okocha played alongside Ghanaian hotshot Tony Yeboah, Norway’s Jørn Andersen and midfielder Maurizio Gaudino. Frankfurt finished third in 1993 and fifth in 1994 and Okocha won Goal of the Year too in 1993 for a mesmerising dribbling strike against Karlsruher SC.

In 1995, Okocha spectacularly fell out with coach Jupp Heynckes who also took a dislike to Yeboah and Gaudino. The latter pair moved on to pastures new in English football whilst Okocha stuck around until 1996 but Frankfurt’s first-ever relegation from the top-flight meant he would leave the Bundesliga behind and join Fenerbahce that summer.

He scored 30 times in 62 games across two seasons for the Turkish side and would become a Turkish citizen too before switching to Paris Saint-Germain in 1998, spending £14 million to acquire this gifted talent. By now, Okocha had a fearsome reputation as one of the best direct set-piece takers in world football. His time in PSG was more frustrating. They won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001 but league success eluded Jay-Jay, who did at least pass on his experience and talent to a young Brazilian superstar by the name of Ronaldinho during his four-year stay in the French capital.

After the 2002 World Cup, Okocha moved to Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer. It was seen as a wonderful coup for a club that were always likely to be fighting a relegation battle. He sparkled at his new challenge, scoring seven times including the club’s Goal of the Season winner against relegation rivals West Ham United in April 2003. On the final day of the season, a trademark free-kick helped Bolton to victory over Middlesbrough that ensured their Premier League survival at West Ham’s expense. In the celebrations that followed, Okocha taught his manager Sam Allardyce some of his dancing moves which went down well with all the supporters at The Reebok Stadium.

Allardyce appointed Okocha as the club’s new captain in the summer of 2003 following the retirement of long-serving defender Gudni Bergsson. He led the club to their first cup final in nine years, scoring two breathtaking goals in the League Cup semi-final defeat of Aston Villa. Bolton faced Middlesbrough at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium but came up short on the day, losing 2-1. Amazingly, Okocha failed to score a single league goal in the campaign but that wasn’t for the worth of trying. He ended his drought on the opening weekend of 2004-2005, scoring twice in the 4-1 victory over Charlton Athletic. Another four goals followed as Bolton achieved their highest finish in the Premier League, ending sixth in the final standings.

His final season saw the Nigerian removed of the captaincy in November 2005. His head had been turned by a potential move to the Middle East and Allardyce elected to give the armband to Kevin Nolan. Okocha carried on playing but it was clear the spark had gone and he rejected a contract extension at the end of the season to go and play in Qatar. It was a slightly acrimonious departure and his relationship with Bolton supporters wasn’t helped six years later following their Premier League relegation when he said: “We laid a good foundation at Bolton but, unfortunately, for the fans, they have to deal with Bolton being a struggling team again.”

After one year in Qatar, he returned to the English game to conclude his career at Hull City, retiring at the end of the 2007-2008 campaign. He is currently Chairman of the Delta State Football Association and has also expressed previously a desire to become Nigerian Football Federation President in the past.

He was so good, he was named twice! Jay-Jay Okocha certainly didn’t do dull during his time in the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers.

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Great Goals: Hatem Ben Arfa – NEWCASTLE UNITED vs. Bolton Wanderers (April 2012)

On Easter Monday in 2012, Newcastle United were at home to relegation-threatened Bolton Wanderers and were struggling to break down the Trotters resolute defence. The score was 0-0 and therefore, something special was required to break the deadlock. It came from midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa.

The Frenchman received the ball inside his own half and a beautiful spin saw him leave Sam Ricketts on the ground. He was now away and continued a mazy run right through the centre of the St James’ Park turf. Three Bolton players were beaten and then, he calmly placed the ball beyond the advancing Adam Bogdan.

At times, Ben Arfa was a frustrating enigma. Sometimes, he was brilliant, other times, he was non-existent. However, this was one special goal from a player who has always had the quality to deliver but not always fully demonstrated his abilities.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (March 2006)

Goalscorers: Stelios Giannakopoulos 3, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 8 PEN, 47, Mark Viduka 30, Jay-Jay Okocha 58, Radhi Jaidi 81, Stuart Parnaby 90

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Andrew Davies, Ugo Ehiogu, Stuart Parnaby, Emanuel Pogatetz, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, James Morrison (Lee Cattermole 62), Fabio Rochemback (Stewart Downing 83), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Yakubu 73), Mark Viduka

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Ricardo Gardner, Radhi Jaidi, Joey O’Brien, Gary Speed (Abdoulaye Faye 85), Kevin Nolan (Hidetoshi Nakata 72), Jay-Jay Okocha, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Kevin Davies, Henrik Pedersen (Jared Borgetti 53)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 25,971

On Mothers’ Day 2006, Middlesbrough faced Bolton Wanderers in what turned out to be another pulsating afternoon at The Riverside Stadium. Boro had already featured in exciting encounters with Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic and the home crowd were going to be treated to seven goals, last-minute drama and plenty of errors from both teams.

It was reported that both Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce were in the running to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager after the 2006 World Cup finals, so there was a bit more incentive in this one for the two managers. Bolton were enjoying the better season domestically and took the lead after only three minutes. From a Jussi Jaaskelainen goal-kick, Middlesbrough had at least two opportunities to clear but didn’t and Stelios Giannakopoulos punished them to give the visitors the early lead.

Middlesbrough recovered quickly and by the half-hour mark, they were leading. First, Joey O’Brien was spotted by Howard Webb handling the ball from a free-kick and corrected awarded a penalty. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s spot-kick was not his finest but he just squeezed it underneath Jaaskelainen to find the equaliser. Then, Mark Viduka was played onside and latched onto Hasselbaink’s knockdown to earn Middlesbrough a half-time lead.

Both defences were looking ropey and the pattern continued into the second half. Middlesbrough went 3-1 ahead on 47 minutes. Hasselbaink latched onto a long pass and got to the ball before the onrushing Jaaskelainen. He dinked his effort over the Finnish goalkeeper to put clear daylight between the sides. It was also Middlesbrough’s 500th goal in the Premier League.

That should have finished Bolton off but they produced a stirring comeback. Five minutes after his arrival from the bench, Jared Borgetti was fouled by Ugo Ehiogu in the penalty area. Webb awarded his second penalty of the afternoon. Jay-Jay Okocha’s penalty was poor and Mark Schwarzer guessed right to deny him but only momentarily. The Nigerian was sharpest to the rebound to score and bring Allardyce’s side back into the match. Nine minutes from time, they levelled proceedings. Okocha’s cross found an unmarked Radhi Jaidi and the Tunisian centre-back made no mistake with his header to beat Schwarzer.

Despite it being 3-3, there was a sense that one side would snatch all three points and it was Middlesbrough who ended up on the right part of the scoreline. Substitute Yakubu put in a decisive ball into the danger area and defender Stuart Parnaby was in the right place to make the contact required. Jaaskelainen was beaten and so were Bolton Wanderers. McClaren also beat Allardyce to the England vacancy by the end of the season but Bolton did finish six places higher in the final table.

Premier League Rewind: 18th-19th August 2001

Results: Charlton Athletic 1-2 Everton, Derby County 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Southampton, Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool FC 2-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal, Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Aston Villa, Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle United, Manchester United 3-2 Fulham

The opening weekend of the 2001-2002 Premier League season saw 28 goals in its first weekend with a new title sponsor. Barclaycard had taken over sponsorship rights over the summer from Carling.

Fulham were welcomed into the Premier League family and they had a daunting first fixture too against reigning Premier League champions Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to achieve four titles in a row in what at the time we thought was going to be his final campaign in the dugout at Old Trafford.

They were pushed all the way by the newcomers, with Louis Saha making an immediate impression. The Frenchman scored twice as Fulham led twice but their best efforts were cancelled out by United’s new £19 million striker. Ruud van Nistelrooy helped himself to a debut double and the home side came away with all three points in a nervy 3-2 victory.

Unlike Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers did boast previous Premier League experience. They both returned to the top-flight on this weekend, with mixed fortunes. Blackburn lost 2-1 at Derby County, as Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a trademark free-kick on his return to English football.

On the other hand, Bolton had a day to savour at Filbert Street, crushing Leicester City 5-0. The outstanding Per Frandsen scored two free-kicks and Kevin Nolan also scored twice as the pressure cranked up on Leicester boss Peter Taylor.

There was a bad-tempered match on Teeside as Arsenal travelled to Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren’s first game as a Premier League boss ended in a 4-0 home defeat as Arsenal began their extraordinary run of scoring in every single league match in the season. Both Ugo Ehiogu and Ray Parlour were sent off with two late goals by Dennis Bergkamp making the scoreline look more flattering than how the actual game developed.

Liverpool FC had Michael Owen to thank once again. Owen continued where he left off from the previous season in his dream year which saw him finish as the European Footballer of the Year. He scored twice as the Reds defeated West Ham United 2-1 at Anfield. Lastly, Chelsea and Newcastle United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. This match was more notable as it was the first game in the UK that was made available via a pay-per-view subscription model. Premiership Plus would be around on the Sky platform for the next five seasons.

What else happened in August 2001?

  • Former royal butler Paul Burrell is charged with theft of items that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. The prosecution collapses three months later.
  • A plane crash in the Bahamas claims the life of American R&B performer Aaliyah and eight members of her record company. She was just 22-years-old.
  • Law goes into effect in Germany legalizing same-sex registered partnerships.
  • Whitney Houston signs the largest contract in music history with Arista Records, a six-album deal worth over $100 million.
  • Michael Schumacher wins the FIA Formula One World Championship with victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. It is the German’s fourth world title.
  • The BBC introduces a fourth weekly episode of EastEnders, to be broadcast at 8pm every Friday night.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 3-3 Derby County (December 1997)

Goalscorers: Alan Thompson 50 PEN, Stefano Eranio 55, Francesco Baiano 64, 69, Nathan Blake 73, Jamie Pollock 77

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Gavin Ward, Gudni Bergsson, Chris Fairclough, Jimmy Phillips, Andy Todd, Per Frandsen, Jamie Pollock, Scott Sellars (Michael Johansen 88), Alan Thompson, Peter Beardsley (Arnar Gunnlaugsson 88), Nathan Blake

Derby County: Mart Poom, Christian Dailly, Rob Kozluk (Darryl Powell 81), Gary Rowett, Igor Stimac, Chris Powell, Lee Carsley, Stefano Eranio, Francesco Baiano, Paulo Wanchope (Deon Burton 81), Dean Sturridge

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 23,027

After 102 years of playing professional football at Burnden Park, Bolton Wanderers had moved into the new state-of-the-art Reebok Stadium in-time for the 1997-1998 campaign. This was their second season in the Premier League and again, it looked like being a campaign battling to avoid relegation. They faced Jim Smith’s Derby County in this pre-Christmas encounter which produced an entertaining second half for the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras.

The first half was dominated by the home side but they couldn’t find a way through. Chris Fairclough hit the crossbar from a free-kick which was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock. The goals arrived in a belting second half. Midfielder Per Frandsen won a penalty five minutes into the second half as he was fouled by Derby defender Igor Stimac. Uriah Rennie correctly pointed to the spot and Alan Thompson made no mistake to give the hosts a deserved lead. The goal sparked Derby into life and five minutes later, they were level. Francesco Baiano played in his fellow Italian Stefano Eranio, who finished well as the defenders gave him plenty of time to strike.

The visitors started to take control of the game. Dean Sturridge was denied a goal by some last-ditch goalkeeping from Gavin Ward but a second Rams’ goal was coming. Moments after being kept out by Ward, Sturridge’s searing pace took him away from Andy Todd. His cross was palmed out by Ward, but only into the path of the in-form Baiano who made no mistake with his finish. Five minutes later, the little Italian had doubled his tally. He played a lovely one-two with Sturridge and as Fairclough slipped in trying to cut the ball out, Baiano placed the ball beyond Ward’s advances. At this stage of the season, Baiano was already on 11 Premier League goals and he was looking like one of the signings of the summer.

Bolton showed great resilience in coming back though from a 3-1 deficit. Nathan Blake’s header from Thompson’s cross gave them hope on 73 minutes. Four minutes later, Frandsen made a surging run into the box. His neat back heel allowed Jamie Pollock to take control of possession. The midfielder fired his shot into the bottom corner to level the scores. Both sides pushed for a winner but in the end, the points were shared.

The point took Bolton upto 15th but they would suffer anguish on the final day and experienced relegation at Stamford Bridge. Despite a horrendous away record, Derby finished an excellent ninth in just their second Premier League season.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea (April 2005)

Goalscorer: Frank Lampard 60, 76

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Vincent Candela (Radhi Jaidi 77), Fernando Hierro, Bruno N’Gotty, Ricardo Gardner, Stelios Giannakopoulos (Henrik Pedersen 63), Gary Speed, Jay-Jay Okocha (Kevin Nolan 63), Kevin Davies, El-Hadji Diouf

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Geremi, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, William Gallas, Claude Makelele (Alexei Smertin 90), Jiri Jarosik, Tiago, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba (Robert Huth 65), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Joe Cole 85)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 27,653

April 30th 2005 will be a date that Chelsea supporters will never forget. It was the day when their 50-year wait for being crowned champions of England would end. Only a defeat at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium would delay their crowning as the kings of English football.

Chelsea had been outstanding all season. Coming into this match, Jose Mourinho’s side had only lost once all campaign in the league and had sprinted clear from their nearest pursuers, reigning champions Arsenal and Manchester United. Bolton weren’t going to roll over though. They were looking good for a top-six finish and with it, the prize of European football next season. They’d also come back from 2-0 down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge in November.

The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. It seemed like the nerves had hit the Chelsea players and it was the home side who missed the best chance of a goalless first 45 minutes. Kevin Davies headed straight into Petr Cech’s midriff when he was given a free header in the penalty area.

Fittingly, it was one of Chelsea’s stars of the season who produced the seminal moment. Frank Lampard broke into the penalty area and fired Chelsea into the lead just before the hour mark with another emphatic finish. Bolton thought Jiri Jarosik had fouled Fernando Hierro in the build-up to the goal but their protests fell on deaf ears. The title loomed large for the west Londoners.

There were still some scares though. Gary Speed’s long throw-in saw Geremi almost score a spectacular own goal. The Cameroonian, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role leapt to reach Speed’s throw-in but rather than clear the ball, he forced Cech into an impressive reflex save.

With 15 minutes remaining, the game was still in the balance. Chelsea needed another goal to be sure of their success and it was Lampard who sealed the coronation. A Bolton attack broke down from their corner and Claude Makelele played a delicious pass into the feet of Lampard. With Wanderers defenders stranded up pitch, Lampard bared down on-goal. He had Ricardo Carvalho alongside him but he was never going to pass to the Portuguese defender. Lampard rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, sent the ball into the empty net and the celebrations could properly begin. Chelsea were champions and they were going to tell the world about it.

The Blues became only the fourth side in the Premier League era after Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal to win the title and this came in just Roman Abramovich’s second season of owning the club. In 2004-2005, Mourinho was definitely the “Special One.” Chelsea would win the League Cup too and finished with a record-high points tally in Premier League history. They collected the trophy a week later after a breathtaking campaign by the Londoners.

Shock Results: Manchester United 1-2 Bolton Wanderers (October 2001)

Goalscorers: Juan Sebastian Veron 25, Kevin Nolan 35, Michael Ricketts 84

Teams:

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Phil Neville, David May (Gary Neville 78), Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, Nicky Butt, Juan Sebastian Veron, Paul Scholes (Ryan Giggs 66), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke (Luke Chadwick 67)

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Simon Charlton, Gudni Bergsson, Bruno N’Gotty, Mike Whitlow, Bo Hansen (Anthony Barness 82), Paul Warhurst (Jermaine Johnson 54), Kevin Nolan, Per Frandsen, Ricardo Gardner, Michael Ricketts

Referee: Graham Barber, Attendance: 67,559

This was the 100th meeting between Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers. After this surprising victory in October 2001, Sam Allardyce said: “There is no better feeling, apart from watching my children being born – it is my best result as a manager.”

Bolton had made a strong start to their Premier League return and had already beaten Liverpool FC and held Arsenal at Highbury. However, they had just lost 4-0 at home to Newcastle United seven days earlier.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side weren’t at their free-flowing best and had been beaten in the UEFA Champions League in midweek by Deportivo La Coruna. Nevertheless, they were expected to brush the Trotters’ side aside with relative ease infront of their biggest crowd of the season.

Ferguson did make eight changes following the defeat to the Spanish side in midweek and as expected, they did a lot of the pressing in the opening exchanges with Bolton sitting and containing their more fancied opponents. Allardyce’s tactic was working until the 25th minute.

Juan Sebastian Veron drove a free-kick into the back of the Bolton net from 30 yards out. However, 11 minutes later, the visitors’ silenced the Old Trafford faithful with an equaliser that suggested they were playing with utmost confidence. Bruno N’Gotty floated a long ball towards the back post. It was met by Michael Ricketts, who nodded the ball down into the path of Kevin Nolan. Nolan hit the deftest of volleys and it flew into the back of the net. Fabien Barthez had absolutely no chance.

The Red Devils were sprung into life by this shock equaliser and Jussi Jaaskelainen had to be sharp to make a remarkable double save to deny Paul Scholes and Andy Cole in very quick succession. Jaaskelainen’s acrobatics here would see him earn a nomination for the Premier League Save of the Decade at the 10 Seasons’ Awards. He was beaten by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shortly afterwards but the Norwegian was denied by an offside flag.

Many would have felt Bolton would try and hold on for a fantastic point but they sensed a real upset and having matched the men from Old Trafford throughout the second half, they seized their opportunity six minutes from the end. Ricketts shook off the attentions of Wes Brown, broke clear and smashed the ball past Barthez to set Allardyce’s side up for only their second win at the Theatre of Dreams in 40 years.

Bolton would stay up in 16th place on their return to the Premier League. Six home defeats for Manchester United during the season would see Ferguson’s side restricted to a third-place finish, nine points adrift of eventual champions Arsenal.

Shock Results: Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers (August 2001)

Goalscorers: Kevin Nolan 15, 41, Michael Ricketts 33, Per Frandsen 45, 83

Teams:

Leicester City: Tim Flowers, Callum Davidson (Lee Marshall 46), Matt Elliott, Gary Rowett, Frank Sinclair, Robbie Savage, Dennis Wise, Muzzy Izzet, Andy Impey, Ade Akinbiyi (Arnar Gunnlaugsson 46), Dean Sturridge (Junior Lewis 46)

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Anthony Barness, Gudni Bergsson (Ian Marshall 76), Simon Charlton, Mike Whitlow, Ricardo Gardner (Henrik Pedersen 66), Paul Warhurst (Nicky Southall 71), Per Frandsen, Kevin Nolan, Bo Hansen, Michael Ricketts

Referee: Rob Styles, Attendance: 19,987

Bolton Wanderers were the favourites with many of the bookmakers to be relegated at the start of the 2001-2002 season. Sam Allardyce’s side had been promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs and unlike fellow promotion teams, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers, had barely spent a penny in the summer transfer window.

First up for Bolton was a trip to Leicester City. Leicester had finished the previous campaign in very poor form, slipping from sixth to 13th in the final two months of the season. Yet, no-one could have predicted the start Bolton would make. By half-time, they were an incredible 4-0 up. They went ahead after 15 minutes. Per Frandsen did well to escape the attentions of Muzzy Izzet, before outsprinting Robbie Savage to the by-line. He got his cross into the box and Kevin Nolan produced a looping header that managed to elude Tim Flowers in the Foxes’ goal. It was the start of a remarkable first half for Bolton as they enjoyed their first Premier League game since May 1998.

Although Leicester went close through a Matt Elliott header, it was the away side that were dominating the play and they doubled their lead 12 minutes before half-time. Ricardo Gardner picked out Michael Ricketts, who showed far too much strength for Leicester defender Gary Rowett. As Rowett fell to the floor and turned to the referee in the vain appeals of winning a free-kick, Ricketts continued and scored to send the 2,000 away supporters into sheer ecstasy. Their joy was soon to increase.

Four minutes before half-time and Nolan added his second goal of the afternoon. Frandsen chipped a free-kick into the box. Long-serving defender Gudni Bergsson flicked the ball on and there was Nolan, who had all the time in the world to drill home past shell-shocked goalkeeper Flowers. By now, Leicester supporters were already calling for manager Peter Taylor’s head and Bolton’s demolition job was not complete yet.

In the final minute of stoppage-time at the end of the first half, Frandsen turned from goal provider to goalscorer. His free-kick flew into the bottom corner of Flowers’ net to complete an almost perfect first 45 minutes for the visitors.

Taylor reacted by making three half-time changes but all that did was stem the flow of the match slightly. Bolton were more than happy with the lead they’d already built up. However, there was still time with seven minutes left to add a fifth goal. Frandsen produced another brilliant free-kick which was arguably better than his first effort. The 5-0 scoreline set the course for both teams’ seasons.

Leicester sacked Taylor a month later and were relegated in April 2002. Bolton survived for the first time in their Premier League history, ending the season in a creditable 16th position.

Memorable Matches: Arsenal 4-2 Bolton Wanderers (January 2010)

Goalscorers: Gary Cahill 7, Matt Taylor 28 PEN, Tomas Rosicky 43, Cesc Fabregas 52, Thomas Vermaelen 65, Andrey Arshavin 85

Teams:

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Denilson, Abou Diaby (Craig Eastmond 76), Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky (Carlos Vela 88), Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo (Theo Walcott 90)

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gary Cahill, Zat Knight, Paul Robinson (Sam Ricketts 90), Gretar Steinsson, Mark Davies (Gavin McCann 56), Tamir Cohen, Fabrice Muamba, Matt Taylor, Chung-Yong Lee (Ivan Klasnic 81), Kevin Davies

Referee: Alan Wiley, Attendance: 59,084

Three days after Arsenal had won 2-0 at the Reebok Stadium, they hosted Bolton Wanderers again in a Premier League encounter which saw them produce plenty of resolve. Bolton had got the man they’d wanted in the dugout, prizing Owen Coyle away from Lancashire rivals Burnley. This was his first away match for the club.

Coyle decided to start with a 4-5-1 formation and try to neutralise the creative talents of Cesc Fabregas who had completely bossed the midfield 72 hours earlier. It meant Kevin Davies was set for a long and battling evening on his own in attack but Davies’ brut physical strength would give the Arsenal backline huge problems and ultimately, a 2-0 deficit inside the first half-hour.

Davies won an early battle against Gael Clichy in the air and nodded the ball down for Gary Cahill to drill home the first goal of the Coyle reign at Bolton. Arsenal were struggling to create chances despite dominating possession and the margin grew when Denilson fouled Chung-Yong Lee. Alan Wiley had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and Matt Taylor’s spot-kick was hit with pinpoint accuracy. Manuel Almunia guessed correctly and got a hand to Taylor’s kick but it crept in and Bolton were dreaming of a rare away win.

They really needed to protect that advantage going into half-time but couldn’t. Moments after Davies had headed against his own crossbar, Tomas Rosicky fired a strike past Jussi Jaaskelainen to give Arsenal a chance of completing a recovery in the second half. They were starting to get into the ascendency at the break and the pause didn’t check their momentum either.

Six minutes into the second half, Fabregas levelled the scores, driving the ball through Jaaskelainen’s legs from an extremely tight angle. Bolton were very unhappy though as they felt Mark Davies had been fouled in the build-up by William Gallas. They had a case as the tackle looked dangerous to say the least, especially as Mark Davies would ultimately have to be stretchered off the field.

Bolton’s resistance had been broken. Thomas Vermaelen would complete the comeback in the 65th minute, striking on the half-volley after the visitors had made a mess of clearing a corner. Arsenal needed another goal to ensure they finished the evening on top of the Premier League table and Andrey Arshavin delivered it five minutes from time, finishing off a neat exchange of passes between the Russian and Eduardo. Arsenal’s victory had completed a turnaround that had seen them wipe out an 11-point deficit on Chelsea after the Blues had won 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium in late November 2009.

However, by the season’s end, old habits had returned and Arsenal tailed off to finish third in the table. Although they finished the night in the bottom three, Coyle would guide Bolton to safety, playing a more attractive brand of football than his predecessor Gary Megson along the way.

Premier League Files: Simon Charlton

Premier League Career: Southampton (1993-1997), Bolton Wanderers (2001-2004), Norwich City (2004-2005)

Making over 500 appearances in a career that spanned 18 years, Simon Charlton was a player who never took the limelight at any of his clubs. However, he was a well-respected figure by the supporters of the teams he represented and was a consistent performer throughout.

Frequently deployed as a left-back, Charlton began his career with his hometown club, Huddersfield Town. During that stint, he demonstrated the capabilities to play as a central defender or even in midfield. It was this versatility that helped win stay with clubs and play in prominent squad positions.

He moved to Southampton in June 1993 for £250,000 but barely figured initially under Ian Branfoot at the Saints. His PL debut came in a 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, over five months after arriving on the south coast. However, he went onto make 114 Premier League appearances at The Dell, scoring twice. One of those goals was in a narrow defeat to Manchester United in May 1995.

Three years later, Simon dropped down a division to Birmingham City and would spend three campaigns in the second-tier, eventually escaping Division One with Bolton Wanderers in 2001. On his return to the top-flight, he appeared in 36 of the Trotters’ 38 Premier League matches in 2001-2002. Bolton avoided relegation and Charlton was chosen as the club’s Player of the Year. As Bolton started to improve under Sam Allardyce and more continental stars arrived, it wasn’t a surprise to see him slip down the pecking order at the Reebok Stadium.

He moved to Norwich City in 2004 but couldn’t avoid relegation with the Canaries in his first season with them. He fell out with boss Nigel Worthington and was released on a free transfer in 2006. On his departure, he fired parting shots at Worthington, claiming he had been made a “scapegoat” for the team’s indifferent performance that season. He spent one year at Oldham Athletic before retiring from the game. After playing, Charlton served time as a youth coach back at Norwich before going into management for a season at non-league Mildenhall. He now works in media as a commentator and summariser for Bolton Wanderers matches for BBC Radio Manchester.

Memorable Matches: Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Arsenal (March 2008)

Goalscorers: Matt Taylor 14, 43, William Gallas 62, Robin van Persie 68, Jlloyd Samuel 90 OG

Teams:

Bolton Wanderers: Ali Al-Habsi, Jlloyd Samuel, Gary Cahill, Andy O’Brien, Gretar Steinsson, Ivan Campo, Danny Guthrie, Gavin McCann, Matthew Taylor (Nicky Hunt 78), (Grzegorz Rasiak 81), El-Hadji Diouf (Stelios Giannakopoulos 78), Kevin Davies

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia, Gael Clichy, Philippe Senderos (Theo Walcott 59), Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby (SENT OFF), Cesc Fabregas, Aleksandar Hleb, Nicklas Bendtner (Emmanuel Adebayor 60), Robin van Persie (Justin Hoyte 90)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 22,431

Arsenal visited the Reebok Stadium in March 2008 knowing they desperately needed to win to keep alive their title hopes. Having set the pace for the majority of the season, the Gunners had slipped to third in the standings and were without a win in five matches. This included a defeat to Chelsea the previous weekend.

The Gunners’ record at the Reebok was shambolic too. They hadn’t won here since April 2002 and after a nightmare opening 45 minutes in the driving rain, that run looked set to continue. 14 minutes had been played when Bolton took an unlikely lead. Gretar Steinsson produced a wonderful cross and Matt Taylor’s well-executed header flew into the back of the net. Steinsson was exposing Arsenal’s weakness at right-back. Kolo Toure had to play out of position due to an injury to regular full-back Bacary Sagna. His lack of experience in this position was clearly evident.

Arsene Wegner’s side were a goal down and soon a man down too. On 30 minutes, Abou Diaby was dismissed following a poor tackle on Steinsson. Chris Foy had no hesitation in showing the red card and replays proved he had made the right decision. Wenger was left shaking his head and the damage wasn’t over yet.

Two minutes before half-time, Mathieu Flamini was pressured into losing possession on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball dropped to Taylor and his shot deflected off captain William Gallas, leaving Manuel Almunia with no chance. Bolton led 2-0 at the break and looked to be heading towards a vital victory in their battle to preserve their Premier League status.

On the hour mark, Wenger knew he had to change things and threw his last remaining attacking substitutions on. Theo Walcott and Emmanuel Adebayor arrived. Within two minutes, Bolton’s advantage had been halved. Cesc Fabregas’ corner was inadvertently flicked on at the near post by Trotters’ skipper Ivan Campo. Steinsson failed to track the run of Gallas, who couldn’t miss from only a few yards out. All of a sudden, nerves were around the Reebok Stadium with both sets of supporters.

Six minutes later, the scores were improbably level. Gary Cahill overstretched and tripped Aleksandar Hleb in the box. Robin van Persie kept his composure to send Ali Al-Habsi the wrong way and score his first Premier League goal in five months. There always looked like being a winner in this game and it came in the 90th minute. Once again, Hleb got to the touchline and pulled the ball back to Fabregas. His shot took a crazy three deflections off Campo, Andy O’Brien and lastly, Jlloyd Samuel before nestling into the back of the net. Cue euphoria in the Arsenal away supporters’ end.

This was the best comeback victory of the 2007-2008 Premier League season and although Arsenal fell short in their bid to win the title, they fell just four points short of champions Manchester United.

Referees in the Middle: Chris Foy

Premier League Career: 2001-2015

First Premier League Match: Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Charlton Athletic (15 December 2001)

Final Premier League Match: Manchester City 2-0 Southampton (24 May 2015)

Like many of his colleagues in the game, Chris Foy has taken charge of some of the biggest matches in English club football. The highlight of a 21-year career as both an assistant referee and referee was taking control of the 2010 FA Cup final between champions Chelsea and relegated Portsmouth. In the match, he awarded Pompey a spot-kick which Kevin-Prince Boateng missed four minutes before Didier Drogba’s free-kick was enough for the Blues’ to complete a league and cup double.

His first appointment was as an assistant referee in the Football League back in 1994. That breakthrough came 11 years after he started taking charge of games in the amateur, regional and local leagues. He first started refereeing matches in 1996 and five years later, was promoted to the Select Group Referees list which officiate at the highest level – the Premier League.

Foy’s first Premier League match was uneventful. Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic played out a sterile 0-0 draw in December 2001. His next match was a game between Aston Villa and Everton, the only game he would referee in his career involving the Toffees. There was no benefit on the evening but it was later discovered that Foy is an Everton fan and consequently, appointments are made to avoid such issues in the future.

In 2002, it was the late Ugo Ehiogu who was the first recipient of a red card from Chris Foy in the Premier League. The Middlesbrough defender was given his marching orders during a 1-0 defeat at Upton Park to West Ham United.

In 2005-2006, Foy dished out a staggering 10 red cards in just 41 matches across the top three divisions in England. Among those dismissals was one for Arjen Robben in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Sunderland. The Dutch winger had just scored the winning goal for the league leaders and he promptly jumped into the visiting fans to celebrate. However, having been booked earlier in the match, Robben was accused of “over-celebrating” and was shown a second yellow by Foy, meaning a red card headed his way. It was extremely harsh but Foy was only following a new directive which has never been welcomed with much grace by watching fans.

Chris Foy’s final match was Manchester City’s final day victory over Southampton in 2014-2015 which was also Frank Lampard’s final game in the Premier League. He retired at the end of the campaign and is now a senior referees coach for the PGMOB (Professional Game Match Officials Board), working under another former Premier League ref in Howard Webb.

He was never one to hog the headlines and that’s what made Chris Foy a decent and calm presence within the referees’ community.