We had another bout of injuries, which saw Gilberto, Flamini and Fabregas all start. Fabregas was supposed to be on the right, but often drifted inside. Flamini then went out right, but again ended up inside. We therefore had no one on the right. As the game continued, it was clear to see we had no width. It was kind of weird to see as Hleb naturally goes inside and it left Clichy and Sagna to provide the width. Pre match positives were that Toure, Song and Van Persie all started on the bench. Bendtner and Adebayor started up front. It was the first time they had started a premiership game together. Bendtner had played up at Everton but he was red carded in that game and Ade came on for him.
We started the game well, Cesc sending Ade through in the first minute, only to be saved by Kirkland. I thought he would have been better off trying to go round him, but Ade elected to try and squeeze it under his body. It was one of our most promising chances and it came so early on. The Wigan defence learnt from this and Sharner and Melchiot became much tighter. Melchiot blocking an Ade shot moments later. Wigan had a game plan of pressing up high up the pitch. They were content in letting us have possession in our own half, but as soon we crossed the white line, they pressed us. It was clear to see that they didn’t want us to have any time on the ball. We managed to play though, and Bendtner broke free and had a deflected shot wide.
Cesc sent Bendtner through on the 16th minute but the ball took a horrible bobble and he was unable to test the keeper. It was the first real sign of the pitch being a problem, but on the 15th minute mark, it really did start to cut up and by the half hour mark, it looked like we were playing on a farm after harvest (it’s the only way to explain it). Koumas had a free kick headed out by Gilberto shortly after, and Fabregas had a header saved by Kirland moments after.
The team were getting frustrated and Fabregas and Heskey had a small altercation on the sideline where Cescy felt that Heskey was being over physical, pushed him slightly and then Heskey retaliated with a light head butt. Cesc clutched his face but who really knows how strong Heskey really is? Both got away with just a talking too, but it was clear to see frustration in Cesc. The first half ended 0-0.
We started the second half well, and had a chance from a Clichy free kick a few minutes in, when a mix up between Kirkland and Sharner let him in, Kirkland saving well though. Moments later, Cesc was through and instead of shooting, he elected to pass to Bendtner which was intercepted. Heskey was soon subbed for Siberski and this through life into the Wigan team. They came forward with verve and Melchiot and Valencia exposed the space in front of Clichy, with Valencia having a cracking shot, which Almunia palmed over.
Van Persie replaced Bendtner on the 65th minute and couldn’t really get into the game. It was clear to see that he was lacking match practice but good to see him unscathed with minutes on the pitch. He had a chance in the final 10 minutes, but shot high from 20 yards. Fabregas had a chance in the final minutes, but it was an inevitable 0-0.
Team: Almunia, Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy, Fabregas, Flamini, Silva (Toure 65), Hleb, Adebayor, Bendtner (Van Persie 65).
Now, we have won “ground of the year” and “groundsman of the year” since I can remember the award began. But surely our standards aren’t too high. But this pitch was awful. I’ve never seen a worse pitch. After 15 minutes, it literally cut up and the ball never stayed flat. I can’t believe these pitches are allowed in the modern day of football. And yes, I know they were worse back in the day, but the game has changed. Arsene agrees.
“It is not a professional football pitch. The pitch is a disaster. It is disrespectful for the fans who come and pay money to see that.”
Another point closer or two points dropped?
Arsene spoke after the game:
“I am sure we will take-off again. We have to keep our calm, focus and belief. I don’t know, we shall see at the end of the season (whether it was two points dropped or a point gained). You go through a patch like that sometimes. The negative is that we have a deficit in points. The positive is that we didn’t lose a game. Overall, there was room for us to take more. Not against Aston Villa – the point was what we deserved – but against Birmingham and today we lost four points.”
Most Arsenal fans will be disappointed with this result, myself included. It was a weekend of shocks which saw even lowly Barnsley beat Chelsea. With both United and Chelsea out of the cup now, it will be an intense final 9 games to the end of the season. It’s another two points dropped, but a week rest and a few players back should see us re-invigorated for the weekend clash. By the time we take on Middlesborough for a 5.15pm kick off, United will be one point clear of us after travelling to Derby – unless of course, Derby can really do something really special, but I doubt it.
FIFA to look into Taylor challenge
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been talking about Matt Taylor’s challenge and has asked the FA for the file. It’s a weird situation to be in and a confusing statement from the governing bodies. Either Blatter thinks that the punishment of a 3 game ban wasn’t enough or is aggrieved at the actual challenge. Will Blatter review all challenges in the Premiership? Will he reduce Aliaidiere’s ban? Or is this another twist to the idoicy which surrounds our judicial system?
“We have the right to ask national associations to give us the file – and if we feel the suspension is not enough we will come back on that. And not only for three matches but temporarily banned or a life ban depending on the severity of the attack. Why the hell should footballers demolish each other?”
Arsene challenges Cesc
Arsene has been speaking about Cesc’s performances in light of media speculation that we are preparing a new contract for him. His current contract runs out in 2014 and Arsene has challenged him to continue at this level and win a trophy.
“I don’t think this is the time to talk about contract situations, especially when a player is under a long contract. I believe let’s first win something, in Europe or domestically, then you are in that league.”
News Round Up
Eboue has suffered criticism from the press in respect to the challenge on Evra in the United game. He talks about this critism
. Personally, I think his performances this season have been poor and he should be thinking about that.
Carlos Vela was in action this weekend
and started for Osasuna in a 4-3-3 formation on the left striking role. Randall and Simpson also started today and here’s a round up from Young Guns
. In other Primera Liga news Thierry Henry’s Barcelona took on Robert Pires’ Villareal and lost 2-1.
Arsene has registered his interest in signing Athletico Madrid’s Ignasio Camacho, who starred in Athletico Madrid’s 4-2 win over Barcelona last week. More on this on Arsenal Youth