Arsenal captain Cesc Faberegas scored his 13th goal of the season as the Gunners beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0 here on Sunday and then said his tally owed as much to “luck” as anything else.
But there was nothing fortuitous about the way in which the Spain midfielder, returning from three games out with a hamstring problem, opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a quick-footed finish.
Fabregas then set up compatriot Fran Merida for the Gunners’ second 12 minutes from time here at the Reebok Stadium as Owen Coyle’s first match as Bolton manager ended in defeat.
Victory saw Arsenal close to within three points of Premier League leaders Chelsea and they will go top of the table, on goal difference, if they beat Bolton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
“Maybe scoring more goals is just luck because when I was younger I had so many opportunities and they weren’t going in,” Fabregas, who is still only 22-year-old, told Sky Sports.
“But this year they are and it’s important that they keep coming. I have been training for a few years in front of goal and I feel stronger and that helps in the last yards.”
“It is always difficult to come to Bolton and we are proud to win.
“They are a difficult team to play against and we respect every team, it is important to win again on Wednesday for the title race.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Fabregas.
“When I speak about players with more personality on the pitch, I have to talk about him. He has an authority, he scored again and was very influential,” Wenger said.
Arsenal, after taking the lead, had to survive a spell of concerted Bolton but, as might have happened in previous seasons, they did not buckle.
“We have matured, some players have much more personality on the pitch and that helps us get results,” Wenger said.
Looking to next week’s match, re-arranged after being postponed because of the recent cold weather that hit Britain, the Frenchman added: “It is unusual to play the same side twice in three days and they put a lot of effort in today and we will face the same problems on Wednesday.”
Coyle, who controversially quit Lancashire top-flight rivals Burnley to manage Wanderers, joined Wenger in saluting Fabregas’s display.
“Cesc could play for anybody in world football, he is an outstanding player,” said the former Bolton and Republic of Ireland striker.
Defeat left Bolton in the relegation zone but Coyle insisted his side had been unfortunate not to come out of the match with at least a point.
“That was very harsh on us, with what we offered to the game on another day we could have had a positive result. We had numerous chances and the ball didn’t break for us on occasions,” he said.
“If we play at that level we will pick up points in this league and we can make a game of it on Wednesday,” the Scotland-born manager insisted.