Arsenal 2 – 0 Wigan – Into The Semis…

Now that was a seriously cold night… But it was worth ever shiver, every wind in the face and every snowflake in the hair…

Arsene promised to play a mix of youth and experience and, as most of us expected, he deployed four strikers / wingers and also saw our “reserve” full backs in Eboue (returning miraculously from injury) and Gibbs (the ever impressive England international)… The full line up was:

Szcznesy

Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs

Denilson – Wilshere

Walcott – Van Persie – Vela

Bendtner

With a bench of O’Shea, Sagna, Nordtveit, Eastmond, Arshavin, Nasri and Emmanuel Thomas

A chilly night meant a chilly start for the home team – the game given the go-ahead despite the snow showers throughout the day – with the players a little sluggish in the opening 15 minutes. Wigan with a touch more possession and a lot of misplaced passes. We defended well enough though and after the first 15 finally started to create chances. And Wilshere was a key component in creating chances for the 4 strikers, and they kept on missing them… a neat back heel from Van Persie putting Carlos Vela through on goal, only for the Mexican to chip the ball wide of the goal.

The goal finally came through an own goal – Wigan skipper Antolin Alcaraz headed into his own net from a corner.

There were some very anxious moments for us at the start of the second half when the returning Robin Van Persie needed treatment after being sandwiched between two Wigan defenders as he tried to connect with Carlos Vela’s cross into the six-yard box. We looked to have finally secured our passage to the semi-finals when Carlos Vela was put clear down the left, and he centred for the other returning striker Bendtner who bundled the ball in from two yards – with just over 20 minutes remaining. After that, Wigan become quite flat and we stepped it up a gear - Walcott got away again down the right, beating the advancing keeper and pushing the ball out to Vela, but the angle was too tight as Al Habsi recovered well to save on the line.

And to top off a good home victory, the final whistle was accompanied by the cheers around the stadium as our biggest rivals in the competition, Man United, were soundly beaten by West Ham in the other quarter final.

Arsene spoke after the game and was happy with the performance.

We did the job on a cold night. We didn’t give chances away and maybe they closed us down well at the start of the game and slowly when we gained a bit more time and space we created chances. Overall, it was a good win with making eight or nine changes. We wanted to qualify and give some chances to some players who needed it and we achieved both targets.

He continued to talk about the wait for a trophy:

We have to accept that. There are two things that you want – you want to win trophies and always be at the top. We [have] managed to be at the top over the years and if we can add the trophies it can be even better. But you can only do as well as you can and at the moment we are at the end of November and we are in all the competitions in quite a good position.

We have three days to rest and recuperate until Saturday, when we switch to the Premier League and take on Fulham, which is a normal 3pm kick off!

Let’s enjoy our passage into the semi-finals and let’s rest up until tomorrow…

  • funty

    I think Vela needs to be given more time. He is arguably the best finisher in the Arsenal squad, is as quick as anyone aside from Walcott and when he involves himself over 90 minutes like he did last night, is a handful for defenders. He is a player waiting for the right injuries to allow him an opportunity to make his mark on the first team. Wigan was a step in the right direction.

    Finally, Djourou and Koscielny look very natural together as a central-defensive pairing. Although their lack of leadership qualities necessitates the presence of Sebastien Squillaci on a regular basis, there is a balance to their pairing that bodes extremely well for the future. Throw in Thomas Vermaelen and we have a very strong, very hungry central-defensive quartet.

    With Wigan successfully navigated and United shockingly knocked out of the competition by West Ham — 4-0! Get in there you Hammers! — the Carling Cup is there for the taking.

    For the good of the club and the supporters and to take the first steps towards creating a winning mentality among this group of players, we must take it.

  • devday

    Good summary Funty – but I hope this win doesn’t paper over the cracks from defeats at home to WBA, Newcastle & Sp*rs as well as the two bad performances against Shaktar and Braga.

    We need to improve our mentality very soon.

    We need to understand that we’re in a good position now, but we have to fight for every ball.

  • funty

    Dev: this is the problem – looking at wenger’s recent comments its kinda worrying that he thinks that the win showed depth – YES – but he doesnt look at the defensive frailties. I really hope TV gets back soon.

  • tesa

    I’ve yet to see the game but just caught the highlights to last night’s match. I am very happy for Arsenal and even happier seeing Man U lose (and THAT badly), but my mind still dwells on the negative. Yes, I know I should enjoy the victory but again one of Arsenal’s recent glaring problems has shown itself.

    I don’t think I’ve watched a highlight reel so one sided to Arsenal in about a month. I couldn’t believe how many chances they had, but they could not finish. Arsenal has a litany of talented goal scorers, but for some reason they squander so many chances. After watching the highlights I was shocked that the score wasn’t doubled. They manage to get so deep into enemy territory, are STILL able to move the ball around, but can’t pull the trigger. As disappointing as Vela was with his missed opportunities, I would prefer to see Bendtner leave Arsenal which could open up space for Vela. Despite his size, Bendtner has no aerial skills and very little Viking strength.

    A side note: I am thoroughly enjoying watching Wojciech Szczesny. I can’t tell anyone in person that I like watching him because I haven’t learned how to say his name phonetically yet. He is an intense keeper and seems to have the stones to dictate play and leave an impression with his own saves. Not a busy night for him yesterday, but I am looking forward to seeing if he falls under the spell of inconsistency that has plagued his predecessors.

  • Berth

    Arsenal fans always in a panic mode

  • edison

    so we have been drawn against Ipswich in the SEMI FINAL of the carling cup

    That leaves Birmingham and West Ham to battle it out! week commencing 10 Jan & 24 Jan

    Duno about you, but Im putting money on our boys winning this year.

    Surely we have it in the bag?!

  • CON-MAN

    honestly without getting to excited, its good to see us playing well. chelsea and utd are both out, i feel very confident that we’ll progress in the carling cup, and hopefully win it!