Arsenal produced another Jekyll and Hyde performance as a below par first half performance was cancelled out by a goal rush in the second.
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.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||5|
|7||Shots off Target||9|