The sign of a good side, over the past few seasons, has been whether or not they can “grind out a result”. If there was ever a game that typified a messy, unconvincing win that you need if you want to get anywhere in the mental asylum that is the Barclays Premier League, it was Arsenal’s to say the least scrappy win against Wigan. You could argue we didn’t deserve it. You could argue “gutsy” Wigan gave their all and but for the odd decision from the referee, whose performance today was nothing short of hilarious, they would have got at least a point. You could argue all these things but I think most Arsenal fans could not care less. We won. We kept a clean sheet and we returned from that death trap of a pitch with no injuries. As far as I’m concerned, today was as satisfying as a 5-2 win against Spurs.
The game itself was incredibly open and you could tell quite a few of the players would’ve rather been at home, doing some last gasp Christmas shopping or sitting watching Eastenders. We went close early on through Podolski and Chamberlain, both having shots parried by Al Habsi. The latter was much improved today. He has taken some stick for some below par performances so far this season but today he gave their LB, especially in the buy viagra online second half, a 45 minutes that would’ve seen Chamberlain charged with assault had it not been on the football pitch . Wigan had their fair share of chances in the first half too, most notably Koné (the footballer, not the gang leader from Africa) who squandered a 1 on 1, when his turn of pace left Mertesacker scrambling back in almost comical fashion. I love Mertesacker but watching him trying to run at pace can be absolutely hilarious.
The chant of the day went to the Arsenal fans in the first half. Wigan’s 12 fans were a bit cocky by the time they were still 0-0 at 45 minutes and proceeded to chant “Robin van Persie, he left ’cause you’re shit”. Bit rich really but the response of “Titus Bramble, he left ’cause you’re shit” was top-notch from the away fans.
If anything, we weren’t as good in the second half as we were in the first but we took the lead after 60 minutes when Arteta converted a penalty. You’ll see some say differently, but it was a stonewall foul on Theo in my eyes. It was almost a carbon copy of the one Arteta gave away against Fulham a few weeks back and there was no debate in the media over that one. Santi’s little tumble the other week has made everyone convinced Arsenal are full of Gareth Bale’s but in reality, it would have been an awful decision to not award the penalty. I wouldn’t have put it past today’s ref though.
We weren’t great the rest of the match but we did enough. Our defence held together for long enough, even if it did like they were being held together by a Pritt Stick. Wigan had wave after wave of attacks but fortunately for us, all their attacks had a diabolical end product. A few weak shouts for penalties but in the end, we got the result and we may have been a bit lucky but who cares. When United do it, it is the stuff of champions apparently. We won’t win the league, but we should still get the credit.
Here’s my match ratings for today
Szczesny 7, Sagna 7, Mertesacker 6, Vermaelen 6, Gibbs 6, Arteta 7, Wilshere 9, Cazorla 7, Chamberlain 8, Walcott 6
For me, Wilshere was man of the match by an absolute mile. I’m running out of words to describe how brilliant he is. Not only is a great passer of the ball and he initiated several attacks for us today, but his determination to be a right annoying little git is what I love most about him. Wigan tried to tackle him out of the game and keep him quiet but he just retaliated by being more tenacious and flying in to challenges left right and centre. I don’t know if he drinks petrol before he goes out but the amount he runs about is insane. He was incredibly unlucky to be booked today as well, with the ref giving him a yellow for one of the best challenges of the season. Got the ball clean and fair but the ref decided to punish him.
Theo was most disappointing for me today and sadly, showed why I don’t think he can be a permanent striker for us. On Monday night against Reading he was sublime and caused them no end of trouble, but tonight we saw the sort of game where he just isn’t the right type of player to lead the line. He admittedly had to feed off scraps today but we needed a striker to hold the ball up and distribute it, just what Giroud is so good at. Theo can’t do that though, a brick wall would’ve been more use up front for that job. I’m all for him leading the line in games where we’ll dominate possession and be able to use his pace, but today he looked more out of place than Spurs in the Champions League. Still Sign Da Ting and all that though.
To finish, it seems everyone has had their say on the Wenger situation so here’s mine. I want him to stay. He has his flaws and he is so stubborn it’s painful but replacing him now or even at the end
of the season, unless someone world class wants the job and we’ve had a significantly poor season, would be foolish in my eyes. He loves the club and despite what some try to make out, is a brilliant football manager. I also don’t agree with the thesis that he has lost the dressing room. Half the players are at the club because of Arsene and whilst I’m not saying they’d leave if he did, they respect him and want to do well for him. It’s just my opinion and I understand those on the other end of the spectrum, but I am fully behind Wenger
Let’s smash the toon next week.