Monday, December 5, 2011

Wigan 0 Arsenal 4

Although Arsenal were 2-0 up at half time and had the last 25 minutes of the first half in control, when Wigan started the second half brightly, they reminded us how tricky this place has been for Arsenal for the last two seasons. However, Arsenal have been the comeback kings of late, with the highest number (7) of games they came from behind to win or draw, so I was confident about their resilience and mental strength in case Wigan had come back and pulled back a goal. In fact, Arsenal kept their concentration to the last minute and did not take their foot off the gas. They displayed a thoroughly professional performance. It was a comfortable win in the end.

The first two goals were untypical of Arsenal; Arteta's shot from outside the box and Vermaelen's header from a corner. The most efficient way to score. As we are often frustrated by Arsenal's usual attacking display of passing around just outside the box till they get dispossessed, we didn't mind the way they scored these goals.

Arsene Wenger expressed his delight for Gervniho's goal in his post-match interview and we feel the same. He has been working hard and doing everything right but the final ball. This time, his split-second decision was spot-on and finishing was good. He was in the right place at the right time, but his reaction to Al Habsi's save was more than just a tap-in. It took some skill to put the ball at the back of the net as the rebound still had a nasty spin on it.

The fact that we had four different goal scorers in this game should shut up all the criticism about Arsenal's dependence on RVP for goal sources, while RVP extended his impressive run of a goal-scoring form as well. On top of these, a clean sheet was another positive outcome from this game.

As a result of the fine performance from the entire team, Arsenal has risen to the 5th in the league table at the expense of Newcastle and on the strength of the much-improved goal difference.

As for the Man of the Match, Sky Sports and the Sunday Mirror chose RVP and Aaron Ramsey, respectively, while Arteta topped fans' voting with 34% of total votes on the site. It is difficult to pick one player as our Man of the Match because the emphatic win was the result of collective efforts and a great team performance. However, we would like to take this opportunity to choose Arteta as his work often goes unrecognised.

Player ratings:

Szczeny: 8
His decisions were spot-on in this game.

Koscielny: 8
He had another good game, following the midweek action against Man City in his much familiar central defensive position. He often overlapped Walcott, showing signs of confidence as the right-back.

Mertesacker: 8
The return of the Verminator clearly benefitted him. He had an inclination to make wrong decisions and wrong passes under the pressure of opposition challenges, but these days he only needs to look at Vermaelen, who gives him instructions as to whether to pass back to the keeper. Having a reliable defender with more experience in the EPL and natural leader alongside him must have taken a burden off his shoulders. He looks more comfortable these days.

Vermaelen: 9
As reliable as usual. Scored a great goal with precision. This is just like his debut season when we were all excited with our acquisition of a new centre-back who can score freely. How much we missed him during the last season and the first three months of this season!

Santos: 7
His bizarre defensive move nearly cost us a goal. Didn't he know there was no Wigan player behind him? On the other hand, he apparently "blocked" Jordi Gomez's close-range shot, which would have gone in otherwise.

Ramsey: 8
He made all the right moves and obviously posed a threat to the Wigan side as he was fouled all afternoon. The understanding and attack-defence balance among the midfield trio was perfect. They may not be as dynamic as their counterparts last season (Fabregas-Wilshere-Song) at their best (which we didn't see as often as we liked because of Fabregas' hamstring problems and his inconsistency in performance), but this season's midfield is getting better and stronger gradually.

Arteta: 9

Song: 8
Did his job well.

Walcott: 8
He did well to stay on his feet when he could have gone down and looked for a penalty. He continued his run and pulled back a great pass to RVP. Captain showed his gratitude to Theo's good work after he scored. Great strike partnership.

Gervinho: 8
Finally, his hard work bore fruit. Hopefully the goal has boosted his confidence and more goals will come from him.

Van Persie: 9
Cool finish. He tirelessly created space and chances for his team-mates and himself.


Arshavin: 6
He lost the ball in a simple backward pass to Santos. I like Arshavin as a person and appreciate that he has made his mark in Arsenal's history by scoring four goals against Liverpool, but I haven't been impressed with his performance lately. However, his departure in the January transfer window is unlikely (unlesss we buy Eden Hazard or Mario Gotze) as he will be the first choice to fill the void Gervinho will leave when the Ivorian goes to African Nations' Cup.

Benayoun: 7
Nearly scored.

Coquelin: 6
Got a yellow card for a totally unnecessary foul.

Referee (We don't usually do this, but we were compelled to do it because his performance was appalling)

Mark Clattenburg: 5
Ramsey was clearly held by the Wigan defender in the box, but the ref waved play on. It did not affect the result, but if he had awarded Arsenal a penalty, it would have added to RVP's goal tally most certainly (That said, the Dutchman missed a pen against Wigan at the Emirates last season). Booking Song was another poor decision.

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