Bolton hold Arsenal
December 21 , 2003
Bolton 1 Arsenal 1
Sam Allardyce's men, who beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week, turned their attention to Arsene Wenger's men who are now level on points and goal difference with their west London rivals.
Robert Pires put Arsenal ahead in the second half, but not before the visitors had endured an opening 45 minutes in which they were comprehensively outplayed.
Jens Lehmann made several good saves and the woodwork came to Arsenal's rescue before Pedersen equalised with an unstoppable shot close to the final whistle.
A draw was no less than Bolton deserved after another gritty, hard-working performance.
Arsenal remain unbeaten in the Premiership this season but will be disappointed to have conceded their first goal since Craig Hignett scored for Leicester on 6 December.
Bolton's confident performance reflected their recent fine form, which includes that Premiership win at Chelsea and victory over Southampton in the Carling Cup.
Okocha won an early corner for the home team and Kevin Davies forced an early save from Lehmann with a well drilled shot from 15 yards.
Youri Djorkaeff shot over the Gunners crossbar from 12 yards after Okocha and Per Frandsen combined to create space for the French striker.
Shortly afterwards Kevin Nolan opened up the Arsenal defence with a neat turn and his superb shot was brilliantly saved by Lehmann.
Ivan Campo then rounded young Arsenal left-back Gael Clinchy with an exquisite piece of skill but Davies could not quite reach the Spaniard's subsequent driven ball across the six yard box.
All Arsenal could muster in the opening half was two half chances by Thierry Henry, both of which missed the target - and a devastating counter attack on the stroke of half-time that almost resulted in a goal.
Patrick Vieira glided past Campo in midfield and slipped the ball to Henry, whose cross from the right was headed narrowly wide by Freddie Ljungberg.
Arsenal stepped up the tempo after the break, with the Gunners' midfield finally seeing some of the ball after a poor first 45 minutes.
Simon Charlton did superbly to thwart Henry, who was bearing down on goal at full pace with the Bolton defender as the last man.
But Arsenal's improved second-half performance eventually resulted in a goal.
Ljungberg's shot was parried by Jussi Jaaskelainen into the path of Pires, who made no mistake from eight yards.
The move had started with Dennis Bergkamp dispossessing Ricardo Gardner - angering the home supporters who felt their player had been fouled.
Okocha almost restored parity with a superb free-kick that shaved the edge of the Arsenal post on its way out of play.
Frandsen's lob after a poor punch by Lehmann appeared goalbound, but Pires made a crucial defensive header as Bolton pushed for an equaliser.
Bolton's pressure throughout the match was rewarded when Pedersen deservedly equalised.
Pascal Cygan's defensive header fell to Pedersen, who smashed the ball past Lehmann with an unstoppable left-footed drive from 20 yards.