Robin Van Persie. What can you say? His performance today was sublime. Take the goals away, and the player would still get an 8/10 for his general play, link up play and work rate alone – but add in his three goals and it’s a definite 10/10… even with missing a penalty! Arsene has shown faith in Van Persie and he’s rewarded him with 6 goals in the last 3 games.
The Dutchman lead the line in an otherwise unchanged line-up from the West Ham game (Sagna and Eboue aside) and the team lined-up as such:
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Cesc - Nasri
With a bench of Shea, Gibbs, Eboue, Denilson, Arshavin, Chamakh and Bendtner
We started like we finished against Leeds - in superb control and with flowing football. The first 9 minutes was probably the best 9 minutes of any start of any game this season – we cut Wigan open several times, testing the Wigan goalkeeper 4 times in the opening period. Nasri, Cesc, Walcott and Van Persie are a dream combination up front and were mesmerising the Wigan defence time and time again.
Van Persie has been in great form since his return to the side… and has really found his scoring boots – a great run by Walcott and a good shot from Van Persie nearly put us ahead… if it weren’t for the great keeping from the Wigan goalkeeper. But the first goal was coming and it was that man Van Persie who scored the opener with a great shot after Song did good work to drag the defenders out wide and then slid in RvP, who finished well, very well - and it was 1-0 to the Arsenal.
The frustrating thing for all of us is that we went in at half time with the scoreline only at 1-0 – Nasri, Cesc and Van Persie should and could have scored goals to extend our lead, but the keeper was outstanding – at the break, we went in having had 11 shots on target compared to Wigan’s 1, but the scoreline was only 1-0.
We started very badly in the second half and for the first team minutes of the second half, to be honest, it was all Wigan – to be fair to the two central defenders, they did very well to protect Szcznesy – who although didn’t have to do much, was commanding when called upon.
We started to get back into the game and started to take control of the game and it wasn’t long until we scored the second – to calm our nerves but the players nerves as well – and what a goal it was. Cesc with the free kick and he chose to play Robin straight in who finished with a first time volley. My text doesn’t do justice to the goal – it was simply sublime…
2 could have turned into 3 when Cesc was fouled in the area and Van Persie stood up to take the penalty – unusually for him, he blazed it over the bar… Arsene joking afterwards that he really didn’t expect such a poor penalty from his striker. But it did become three when a super ball over the defence but Theo through, who held the ball up nicely for Van Persie to score his first competitive hattrick in an Arsenal shirt.
Theo did have his moments – like when he forgot to shoot and decided to square it to a player who wasn’t there when one-on-one – and of course, a cameo of nonense from Arshavin was comical to watch, but overall, it was a great team performance, and well done to all of the team!
Arsene commented on Van Persie’s recent form and said:
He is back in form. He was already fit and sharp last week and overall we had a good team performance so he could finish a hat-trick. Of course it is important to have Robin at this level but we have plenty of offensive players. First of all let’s hope we can keep him fit until the end of the season. It is down to us to use him in the right proportion of the games we play.
And he also singled out Cesc for his role in the game:
I think he was outstanding. At the end of the game he was frustrated because he didn’t score but for me the ball he gave for the second goal was absolutely amazing. The second goal I could watch that and watch it and watch it again because it’s just pure class from the pass to the finish.
It was a great goal…
We have very important games in the two cup competitions and ideally we can rotate a little bit more – but first thing’s first and we need to win the game on Wednesday against Ipswich, and progress into the Carling Cup final…
Kieran D will be blogging tomorrow, and I’ll be back on Tuesday for a Ipswich preview!
Til then… Enjoy…