Cesc Fabregas notched a hat-trick of assists as Arsenal continued their unbeaten start to the season yesterday and scored the 1,000th Premier League goal of Arsène Wenger's tenure as manager.
Bolton are regarded as the type of team against whom Arsenal usually struggle, but this was their ninth successive defeat at the hands of the Gunners in all competitions, and although missing Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen through injury, Wenger's men were seldom in trouble.
Even Bolton's equaliser a minute before half-time was created by an Arsenal error, and the dismissal of Gary Cahill for a two-footed challenge on Marouane Chamakh, who had earlier headed Arsenal into a 2-1 lead, made no difference to the result.
Wenger agreed that successive victories over Blackburn Rovers and Bolton suggest that his squad has added a degree of steel to their undoubted style. "We certainly wouldn't have taken six points two years ago," Wenger said. "They provoked a very physical game. It was a good test for our centre backs today. There could have been other [red cards] but they had full commitment and we had to be patient so that our quality could prevail."
That quality was mainly evident in midfield, where Fabregas was ably supported by Alexandre Song, who scored goal number 1,000. Fabregas contented himself with supplying the final pass for the other three. "We play the game he loves to play, and the game turns around him," Wenger said. "He grew up in this team and to make it win will be his greatest achievement."
Adam Bogdan, making his first Premier League start for Bolton thanks to Jussi Jaaskelainen's ban, kept the score down, but was beaten after 24 minutes. Fabregas knocked down Jack Wilshere's cross for Laurent Koscielny to score – his first Gunners goal – at the second attempt.
Koscielny erred after 44 minutes when he tried to head the ball back to Manuel Almunia but gifted it to Lee Chung-Yong, who crossed for Johan Elmander to head home. Arsenal, though, regained the lead when Chamakh headed home Fabregas's cross from the left.
It could have been worse for Bolton if Stuart Attwell, the referee, had allowed an advantage, with Andrey Arshavin clean through, or, indeed, seen more malice in Kevin Davies's earlier lunge at Koscielny or Paul Robinson's later heavy challenge on Abou Diaby.
"A free-kick wasn't given to us for a foul on Lee Chung-Yong on the edge of their box and then we're down to 10 men," Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, said. "Gary Cahill did foul him, but it certainly wasn't a red. It's difficult enough playing Arsenal 11 against 11."
Arsenal proved the point as Song took Arshavin's short pass from the right, slipped Zat Knight and clipped the ball past Bogdan from an improbable angle before Fabregas sent Carlos Vela racing through to hit number 1,001.
Substitutes: Arsenal: Diaby for Wilshere (59), Denilson for Diaby (72), Vela for Chamakh (80). Bolton: O'Brien for Petrov (66), Taylor for Lee (81), Blake for Elmander (81).
Bookings: Arsenal: Eboué, Gibbs. Bolton: Steinsson, K Davies.
Sending-off: Bolton: Cahill (63)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Song