Okay, so you may wonder why I have put “8 changes” into the title of today’s blog – well, simply because surely 8 changes is too much, too much to change 8 players from a team that has just beaten the current champions and we’d finally found a team that gelled together and fought for each other wasn’t the best decision in the world. We could have gone on to win, and I probably wouldn’t have been writing this blog in this way, but we didn’t!
The line up was:
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Eboue
Diaby – Denilson
Bendtner – Rosicky – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Djourou, Clichy, Wilshere, Walcott, Vela and Nasri
The game itself was interesting – I wouldn’t say we were in control at all and in fact, Wigan looked much more spritely than us and the desire to close down like we did at Chelsea had diminished to a degree, and the rotation I suppose didn’t help. But it wasn’t all that bad – we were creative and were able to open up their defence, but with Squillaci back in and Denilson in the holding role, the game was more open than it really should have been.
Wigan went ahead when Charles N’Zogbia tumbled, dived and cheated his way to a penalty – people pointing the finger at Koscielny, but I am really disappointing with the Wigan player – the desire to fall to the ground rather than stay on the ground – no surprise that the same player was involved in a clash later on that involved him getting sent off.
We equalised and went 2-1 through a smart finish from Arshavin and then a nice finish from Niklas Bendtner. Arshavin volleying in the equaliser with a scissor kick and then setting up Bendtner who finished well to make it 2-1 before the break. The second half was a bit of the same as the first half – with both teams having a lot of possession and creating chances – but the big fear was whether we could score a third to put the game to bed – and the longer we went without one, the more worried we all were.
Diaby was injured before the goals and the introduction of Wilshere had it’s impact, but he was eventually taken off as he was being protected. The aforementioned N’Zogbia headbutted our 18 year playmaker and was shown a straight red. But even with 10 men, Wigan showed desire to equalise and it came through an own goal through Squillaci. Nasri should have been awarded a penalty for a blatant handball, the same offence which saw Cesc concede a penalty last time out – the player furious on twitter about the different rules – one for United and one for us!
It is hard to criticise Arsene too much, we really wouldn’t have survived 4 games in 10 days unless we rested and rotated – and we were only 10 minutes away from the 3 points – but the thing is that we really need to win our next two games to ensure that we are primed claw back some ground.
Arsene spoke about the performance and said:
“We were 2-1 up and playing against ten men and we dropped two points. Overall, it was a difficult game with high levels of commitment from Wigan. They caught us a bit at the start and after that we came back into it a little bit. In the second half we didn’t do enough and we conceded two goals from two set pieces.”
Which was a little bit obvious:
“Credit to them, they didn’t give up. I thought we tried very hard. The pitch became more and more difficult for us to put passes together. They defended deeper in the second half and it was more difficult for us to find space. Wigan fought very hard today. I felt in the first half we had a great dominance and came back well but in the second half we didn’t produce enough or offer enough.”
And to top off the drop points, Diaby’s return was too early and he’s now suffered a set back…
“It is a calf strain. He is out for a while now. Some weeks I think”.
A somewhat depressing blog from me today – but all is not lost – 2 more games in this period and two wins would put smiles back on all our faces…