By 1970’s Gooner
I could go on about the new found resilience within this Arsenal team which has learned how to win when things are not running as smoothly as they should.
Or how persistence, fitness and quality which are obviously in abundance, always shine through in the end. What is it? About a third of Arsenal’s points, 13 of 33, have come in the final 10 minutes?
Or even about Gallas’s saving grace once again and Wenger’s vindication in his selection of a new talisman.
Or about Sagna’s repeatedly beautiful displays.
But I will not! Because all these qualities, admirable as they are, need not have come to the for during this game against Wigan at the Emirates. A side that tasted defeat in its last seven games.
There was a major reason why Arsenal struggled to break down this Wigan side and in my opinion it was not all down to “brilliant defending” as Mr Wenger had suggested after the match.
This concerns Arsene Wenger’s selection of the two central midfielders in Denilson and Diarra and the choice of starting Walcott up front to partner Adebayor instead of in his (for now) customary wide midfield position.
Both Denilson and Diarra were content to win the ball and play it safe. This invariably meant a pass back to the defenders or sideways. In this way play was usually delayed and Wigan had therefore the time to get enough men organized behind the ball.
What was equally important is that there was neither leadership nor forward penetration coming from the middle of the pitch. There was no one to take up the mantle and dictate play the way that Fabregas usually provides.
It wasn’t till Wenger moved a more forceful and creative player, Rosicky, into that area behind Adebayor and the midfield when things got better.
Eduardo’s introduction on the 68th minute for the ineffective Eboue meant that Walcott was moved to the right of midfield. Eduardo stayed more on the left and Rosicky started coming infield from his wide left position dictating play.
Arsenal suddenly had forward movement and urgency and as a result were circling round Wigan’s area pushing them back more and more.
You would have expected Bendtner’s entry for Walcott ten minutes later to have added more firepower. But it added more creativity instead.
He was the one that spread play to Sagna to get his cross in for Gallas for the first.
Bendtner was again the one that gave the assist to Rosicky who, having been released from his wing duties, found himself in a more creative area in the middle of the pitch to race on and score the second.
Yet it was Rosicky who should have been given a starting booth in one of the central midfield positions as he is more experienced and far more creative than the two rookies of Diarra and Denilson. Eboue and Walcott (or even Denilson) could have been the wide midfielders.
Let’s hope that we are not short of central midfielders again!
Man of the Match: William Gallas
Arsenal: Almunia 7, Sagna 8, Toure 7, Gallas 8, Clichy 6, Eboue 5 (Eduardo 68min, 6), Diarra 5, Denilson 5, Rosicky 7, Walcott 6 (Bendtner 79min 8), Adebayor 6
Wigan: Pollitt 7, Boyce 7, Granqvist 6, Bramble 6, Kilbane 6, Brown 5, Scharner 6 (Skoko 90min), Landzaat 6, Olembe 5 (Heskey 68min, 5), Koumas 7, Bent 6 (Sibierski 84min, 5)