Premier League – Arsenal spoil Coyle return
The Gunners arrived at the Reebok Stadium unbeaten in seven matches, a run of form which has revitalised their title hopes.
Coyle went into the game unbeaten in his last two matches against Arsenal his Burnley side winning 2-0 at home in the Carling Cup quarter-final last season and drawing 1-1 in the league at Turf Moor in December.
And the home side came racing out of the blocks with Ivan Klasni, on loan from Nantes, having his second minute strike ruled out for offside.
Arsenal soon found their feet and had a penalty shout turned down by referee Phil Dowd when Fabregas nipped past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
But Fabregas, pulling all the strings for the visitors in his first match since returning from a hamstring injury, broke the deadlock after 28 minutes in sensational fashion.
With seemingly no options available on the edge of a crowded box, the Arsenal captain exchanged passes with Eduardo before firing past Jaaskelainen for his 10th goal of the season.
The goal extended Bolton’s run without a clean sheet to 21 Premier League matches, their longest streak since 1928.
And Fabregas, continuing to conduct the Arsenal orchestra, had his second penalty appeal of the match turned down after being felled by Matthew Taylor.
Bolton began to show their physical presence in order to thwart the brilliant Fabregas and the match looked in danger of spilling over with Paul Robinson and Tomas Rosicky booked in quick succession for late challenges.
Coyle’s side had their best chance of the opening 45 in stoppage time when Kevin Davies nodded on to Klasnic who delightfully flicked over William Gallas but could not get the ball out of his feet to beat Manuel Almunia.
Bolton came out from the break with a spring in their step and were soon in the ascendancy but Taylor could only shoot over after being played in on his preferred left foot by Klasnic.
But The Trotters best chance of the match came when Taylor bent his run to beat the offside trap but inexplicably chose to shoot from distance with his tame shot trickling wide.
And the former Portsmouth man was left to rue that miss when Merida stroked home at the back post after 78 minutes to cap another fine Arsenal move with Fabregas and Eduardo combining on the left.
George Scott / Eurosport