After the dropped points against Fulham, there was a midweek rest for some of our key players. Against Fulham, our team looked absolutely knackered. And what a difference a week’s rest makes to the performance. Yesterday, our players looked much better all round, in attack and in defence. The line up was:
Koscielny – Metersacker – Vermaelen – Santos
Arteta – Song
Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho
With a bench of Fabianski, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Benayoun, Chamakh
Koscielny being the only player than remained from the the starting line up mid week, and as previously, deployed at right back with Jenkinson and Sagna. The result itself was emphatic, but Wigan gave us a bit more difficulty than the scoreline suggests. In fact, it was the home team that started the game the better, with our defence being asked questions early on. Szcznesy was called into action early on and we were lucky for the home team not to score.
With Vermaelen back in the team, he gives us an attacking option from the back, and for our first goal, his run into midfield drew a Wigan player into cover him, and his pass to Arteta meant that the the Spaniard was unmarked and with space to run into – a smashing shot from 20+ years, and into the back of the net. The Wigan keeper should have done better, but a great strike from Arteta none-the-less. And Vermaelen, having assisted one, then got onto the score sheet himself from a Van Persie corner – another assist from the Dutchman. Vermaelen rising at the far post to head into the net. Van Persie has scored so many goals this season – but at the same time, how many assists does he have? A phenomenal contribution from our captain.
The second half continued the same way as the first half, Wigan coming out with some fire in their belly, but the Arsenal defence stood strong and showed some good football on the counter attack. Ramsey really (really really) should have had a penalty when he was pushed and pulled to the ground by a Wigan defender. We’ve been 2-0 up against Wigan before and go on to lose 3-2, so we needed the third – and it duly came, through misfiring Gervinho – some great play, great one twos, great skill from Van Persie to check onto his right and shoot – save from the keeper and then a rebound shot from Gervinho – very happy that he got onto the scoresheet – he deserved to, his play in the last few weeks has been very good, but he just hasn’t coverted.
And what game could be complete without a goal from Robin Van Persie. Some great play by Walcott down the right saw him one on one with the keeper, but he had the composure to look up and singled out Van Persie who finished well to make it 4. The overall link play between the front 4 of Gervinho, Van Persie, Walcott and Ramsey is improving game by game and it’s very exciting to watch at the moment.
Arsene was keen to praise the quality of the football and said this after the game:
We know we can do that, and we can do that at a good pace. Today we have seen some outstanding combinations. I must say as well that the pitch is better here than it was years ago. That helps us as well.
And then went on to talk about the game:
Wigan started well, created some dangerous situations and surprised us at the start. After that 15 minutes we took control of the game and never looked like losing that. Maybe a bit in the first five minutes of the second half. But overall we had a good team performance defensively and offensively. The confidence is there and you could feel that in the way we played today. I can only congratulate the team. They are growing and they are getting better and better. You could see there is something there to work on.
We have a mid-week game against Olympiacos and it looks like we’re going to play a young team and a team mixed with fringe players, as win, lose or draw, we go through as 1st in the group. Our win against Dortmund made that happen, so I expect to see a team very similar to last week’s Carling cup outing – but with Koscielny completely rested and perhaps a few more kids in and around the team.
Earlier today, the FA Cup third round draw was made, and in an exact repeat of last year – by pulling Leeds United – at home – out of the hat. It’s the same as last year, although we failed to win the home leg last year, but with a few extra players in Frimpong, Coquelin, Oxlade and Park – and perhaps a few returnees in Wilshere, Jenkinson and maybe another return for Diaby… we may just have enough players to rest the first team and win at home against Leeds.
That’s all from me today. I’ll be back tomorrow with my take our squad before we take on Olympiacos!
Ciao for now…