Wigan 0 – Arsenal 1 (Arteta 60,pen)
Man of the Match – Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Unspectacular. Edgy. Nervy. And yes, full of tension. Nonetheless, 3 points. That was the story of today’s win over Wigan.
And while the optimism of a win is always good, Arsenal fans do have the tendency to go overboard with it. Post the Reading win, there were a barrage of posts all over, claiming that Arsenal’s crisis is all over, and how it would be a launchpad for the rest of the season. How we went from losing to Bradford, to becoming world beaters in the space of 6 days.
Well, Arsenal fans, wakey wakey. Yes, we won, on Monday, and we won today, but things are from what we would assume as ideal, as Arsenal were made to work hard for their points, and almost gave it away in some nervous closing minutes of the match.
Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky missed out due to the colds. Hmm. Anyways, Arsenal started with the trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski up front. Wigan, suffering from an injury crisis, managed to get James McCarthy fit, in time.
It was a cold dull day in Lancashire. There were about 4672 fans in the stadium. Including 4500 Arsenal fans. Just a number that, 4672. Typical Wigan atmosphere.
Anyways, Arsenal had to wait for their first real sniff at goal. Mikel Arteta played in Chamberlain, but his shot was saved by Oman international Ali Al Habsi. Moments later, he snapped away the danger of a strong Podolski shot.
Wigan, however, were frustrating their opponents, with the craft, guile, movement and pace of the attacking trio of Shaun Maloney, Arouna Kone and Franco di Santo. However, they were let down by the service provided from the flanks by Chilean Jean Beausejour and Ronnie Stam.
Arsenal were playing some high pressure football, with the defence at times lurking even near the half way line, and it almost proved fatal, as a smart through ball from di Santo fell into the path of Kone, who outran Mertesacker, but his shit was wide.
Arsenal weren’t getting much luck either, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking lively, but his final pass at times wayward, and so was the finishing from Theo Walcott, playing in the central role, who had a shot blocked by stand in Wigan skipper Emmerson Boyce.
Even the referee Jon Moss seemed to have an off day, when he handed Jack Wilshere a yellow card, for what seemed to be a perfect tackle on Shaun Maloney. Later on, he would sideline Franco di Santo, who had gone out of play, for over two minutes, despite the striker and assistant referee continuously waving to get the referee’s attention.
Arsenal began the second half with more purpose. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played a perfectly weighted pass to Walcott, but his shot was saved by Al Habsi. However, the Gunners did not have to wait long, as a wayward cross from the left was collected by Walcott. He pulled stand in left back Jean Beausejour towards him, and bundled over to earn his side a penalty. It was a calm finish by Arteta, who scored his 4th goal of the season, and this was his 3rd penalty.
Wigan upped the ante in search of an equalizer. Maynor Figueroa almost took advantage of the boggy pitch, when his low skidded shot threatened to go in past Szczesny. Kone, then beat Sagna and Mertesacker, cutting in from the left, but his shot was blocked again by Szczesny.
David Jones then saw his shot fly just wide. And, Arsenal made more last ditch interventions to prevent the Latics from scoring. Stam, came in running, clear of any challenges from the left, but his cross was cleared by Mertesacker, with Kone waiting to tap home.
Jordi Gomez injected some freshness when he came late on, and Wigan should have had a penalty when a Wigan shot struck the arms of Gibbs, and then Vermaelen, but the referee failed to notice.
So, a massive 3 points, and a 3rd consecutive win. This takes us to 3rd above Spurs, who drew against Stoke at home. A few positives. We have gotten 3 points despite playing average, and now we have a week to prepare for the visit of Newcastle, as the West Ham game on Boxing Day has been postponed.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked lively. His pace seems to have gone down a bit. Needs to shed some holiday weight. Jack Wilshere was superb again. It’s a pleasure watching him at times.
Mertesacker’s pace was thoroughly exposed today, as well as our defensive frailties. Luckily, the opposition was so poor that they failed to take any of the chances presented to them. God help us against Bayern Munich.
But, there’s still time for that. A Merry Christmas to all you wonderful Gooners out there!