Gunners hit four but the Song remains the same

Arsenal produced another Jekyll and Hyde performance as a below par first half performance was cancelled out by a goal rush in the second.
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song-wigan

Wigan 1-4 Arsenal

Coming into potentially a season defining week, this was was not the type of performance Arsenal wanted but it was not particularly unexpected. Take the game to the Gunners and there is a good chance of coming away with a result and Wigan nearly did that although the scoreline suggests otherwise.

The Latics were never going to approach this game anything other than their normal game of hoofing the ball towards the general direction of Mido and with the inexperienced Gibbs at left back, look to attack him with the pace of Valencia. And indeed the rookie defender was involved in what would probably have been the turning point of the game. Arsenal were playing horribly; attackers too high up the pitch while the direct approach of Wigan meant the Gunners midfield was not able to get hold of the ball.

This was a game that would have suited Abou Diaby who, if had been involved in as many matches as Denilson would have surely been top of the tackling charts as his recent stats suggest. The Frenchman is also involved in an enthralling three-way battle to claim the second central midfield spot and with Arsenal failing to mount a serious title challenge, probably more exciting than the league campaign. Song did his best to claim that berth with a solid box-to-box performance while Denilson failed to make any sort of impact, a disappointing game for the Brazilian who looked to be coming on leaps and bounds in his defensive game.

After Mido had given Wigan a lead with a well taken volley, a long ball to Valencia was chased by the Ecuadorian and Kieran Gibbs, and knowing his intended header to Fabianski was too weak, tugged the winger back. A red card beckoned but to Wenger’s relief only saw yellow and although replays was inconclusive the feeling was Valencia had enough pace to get there first. The following free-kick from Ben Watson struck the post and Wigan had particular right to feel aggrieved. And with linchpin Mido taken off injured in the second half Wigan went behind, and soon fell further behind and to rub salt in their wounds Arsenal scored two in injury time.

Walcott gave Arsenal lead after a flick on from Bendtner found Arshavin, who’s persistence and sheer genius found Walcott and the winger powered home. Arsenal brought on their big guns and reverted to a 4-4-2 though when Arsenal attacked more like a 4-2-4. Fabregas found Silvestre unmarked to tap home, Arshavin then got on to the end of a Koumas mistake to sidefoot the third before Song merry danced his was through a static Wigan defence to make it four.

The final result showed what Arsenal could achieve with their top players playing and with a bit more time to gel, surely serious candidates for next seasons Premier League. The problem at the moment seems not being able to play close enough in the first half to keep possession, a vital form of defence as the triangles at the end of the game showed. Arshavin was virtually anonymous early on and too wide, same with Walcott while Fabregas must dictate and use his positional play from the centre to be most effective. With injuries mounting in defence it’ll be interesting to see whether Wenger sticks with Gibbs at left back against Villarreal or whether to play Silvestre and move Song to centre back.

Man of the Match: Alex Song– Not much to choose from but the Cameroon ace was Arsenal’s best player in the central minefield and his industry got him the goal he deserved.

Arsenal: Fabianski (5), Sagna (6), Toure (7), Djourou (6) (Silvestre 35 (6), Gibbs (5), Walcott (6) (Adebayor 68 (7), Denilson (5) (Van Persie 63 (7), Song (7)*, Arshavin (7), Fabregas (7), Bendtner (6).
Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Nasri, Vela, Eboue.

Booked: Gibbs, Van Persie, Song Billong.
Goals: Walcott 61, Silvestre 71, Song Billong 90, Arshavin 90.

Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Watson (Koumas 85), Brown (De Ridder 78), Rodallega, Scharner, Mido (Kapo 58).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Kingson, Sibierski, Edman.

Booked: Brown, Boyce, Bramble.
Goals: Mido 18.

Att: 22,954
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

Wigan Athletic Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 4
1 1st Half Goals 0
2 Shots on Target 5
7 Shots off Target 9
6 Blocked Shots 3
6 Corners 5
15 Fouls 18
9 Offsides 2
3 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
70.5 Passing Success 76.2
24 Tackles 21
54.2 Tackles Success 85.7
176 Accurate Passes 298
35 Bad Passes 51
39.1 Possession 60.9
51.9 Territorial Advantage 48.1
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6 thoughts on “Gunners hit four but the Song remains the same

  1. this team will be wiser for the experience of this season. they will do much better next time round but I really hope we don’t get as many injuries as we have done this year. It’s been truly rotten luck.

  2. I can’t agree your Man of the Match to Alex Song, Arshavin was responsible for the first 3 goals and Song just scored on the dying minutes and the whole world says Arshavin in the man of the match.

    1. Well it’s lucky that the whole world doesn’t write this web blog. If that was the case, the whole site would be about the doom and gloom of Arsenal under Wenger.
      Arshavin came to life towards the end and was practically non-existent early on. Song gave it his all and although no Arsenal starter played brilliantly, he played solidly enough.

  3. I think you are a bit harsh on Denilson this week. Not his best game but he only played 60 mins and still managed 5 pass intercepts. If you follow all games from the time it was clear that Flamini was going (April last year) then certain facts are clear:
    1. Cesc and Den are both always selected when fit for Prem League and CL (therefore Diaby and Song are backups)
    2. When playing 451 Song sometimes was selected to give more def strength (alongside Cesc and Den). Or sometimes Diaby + Cesc + Den when more offense from midfield was needed).
    3. AW has put Cesc as no 1 offensive midf, and Den as no 1 def midf. Diaby no 2 offensive, and Song no 2 def midf. With injuries however, Den and Song sometimes had to appear together (even before using a 4231 setup)
    4. AW expects both central midfielders to put in offensive and def work (in the 442), but he still has differing roles for both
    The above is the hard cold factual reality – check the appearances and lineups every week and it is clear.

    The stats back this up as well.
    Player, Passes, Tackles, Intercepts, Minutes played in PL
    Den, 2100, 87, 123, 2701
    Song, 952, 47, 55, 1634
    Diaby, 763, 35, 33, 1206
    Cesc, 1244, 32, 45, 1244

    Even if you gross up all the above players to Den’s time on the pitch, he is clearly ahead of Song and Diaby in the defensive job (tackling, intercepts and passing vol and accuracy). By grossing up the above numbers to be the same as Den we get the following;
    Player, Passes, Tackles, Intercepts, Minutes played in PL if same as Den
    Den, 2100, 87, 123, 2701
    Song, 1571, 77, 91, 2701
    Diaby, 1709, 78, 74, 2701
    Cesc, 2277, 59, 82, 2701

    So Den is definitely the no 1 def midf at Arsenal. And in fact has more tackles/intercepts and passes than any other def midf in the league (but gets little credit) and is no also no 1 in the CL. I agree that Song and Diaby are developing well. Song is getting to the point where he is a very able backup and will be able to rest Den in some games. But AW relies on Den for positioning discipline, accuracy on the ball and coverage of the whole pitch, something that Song does not yet fully have.
    As AW said: “Denilson is not flashy but is very efficient”. I expect him to develop his offensive skills over the next couple of years to be a complete player.

    1. Hi, a very in-depth comment and I agree much with you. But if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog then you would know how much I rate Denilson. Not just him but Diaby also while Song has done his best to get all Arsenal fans greater attention.
      I do have some reservations about Diaby’s tackling stats. In the period he came back from injury, in those five games he made about 45 successful tackles, nine a game and not counting interceptions.

      Here’s an article I wrote about Denilson which you may find interesting. (Hopefully, just raid through my editorials and the previous post on full backs as well)
      https://arsenalcolumn.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/denilson-can-rekindle-the-lost-art-of-midfield-tackling/

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