Arsenal produced a disciplined and patient performance to see off Wigan 2-0 in their Premiership clash at Emirates Stadium last weekend.
After a goalless first half, Arsenal needed something special to break the deadlock and the found it when William Gallas charged forward to head home Bacary Sagna’s excellent cross in the 83rd minute. The home side then added a second to seal the win just two minutes later through Tomas Rosicky, who finished smartly from substitute Nicklas Bendtner’s well-weighted pass.
I caught this one streaming live on Sopcast and was very impressed with Arsene Wenger’s side’s performance. As expected, Lassana Diarra and Denilson started in the middle of the park in place of the suspended Cesc Fabregas and the injured Mathieu Flamini and both players worked well to allow Arsenal to control the tempo of the game. Diarra in particular was a real dynamo, providing excellent cover for the defence and pushing forward with great gusto on occasions. Arsene Wenger will have a real decision to make about whether or not to retain the Frenchman next weekend when Flamini and Fabregas are again made available.
The back five remained unchanged from the last Premiership match against Manchester United, while Emmanuel Eboue and Rosicky played on the right and left side of midfield respectively. Somewhat suprisingly after his excellent midweek performance for Croatia, Eduardo da Silva remained on the bench and it was Theo Walcott who got the nod up front alongside Emmanuel Adebayor to complete a very conventional 4-4-2 formation.
Arsenal played some excellent football in the first half but were limited to just three chances by a Wigan side who defended with great aggression. A great sweeping move involving Sagna, Walcott and Adebayor ended with the Togolese striker’s shot being well blocked by Wigan goalkeeper MIchael Pollitt. In all honesty and in true Adebayor form, he probably should have done a little better.
The same could be said of his namesake Eboue a little while later when he failed to make significant contact with Walcott’s cross with the goal at his mercy. Arsenal were almost punished for that miss when Marcus Bent leapt well at the other end but could only head over the bar. The home side had the last decent chance of the half when Walcott had a shot blocked by Emmerson Boyce after another great team move to ensure things remained level at the break.
Captain fantastic again
Things picked up where they left off in the first-half with Adebayor flashing a shot across the face of goal and Denilson going close from a free-kick. Wigan were then a little fortunate not to be reduced to ten men after Bent took down Denilson with a cynical tackle from behind in the centre of the pitch. The challenge lead to a little scuffle and it was great to see captain Gallas at the heart of it, protecting the younger players around him. Bent was fortunate to stay on the pitch after the tackle, as was Emile Heskey who twice struck Gallas with raised arms during the scuffle while the Arsenal captain did nothing but stand his ground. All three players were booked but I’ve watched the video a number of times since and am yet to understand exactly what Gallas did wrong. Perhaps someone could inform me?
Eboue made way for Eduardo on 69 minutes and Walcott followed the Ivorian off the pitch ten minutes later after an unfortunate tangle with Heskey. The young Englishman, who had been having another great game, was replaced by Bendtner as Arsenal started to get desperate for a goal. Fortunately, it came just three minutes later when Gallas burst forward from defence, linked up with Bendtner and Sagna and crashed a powerful header home. That this is the second crucial goal he has scored in three Premiership games is evidence of just how valuable his forays forward are becoming, something that Wenger was quick to recognise after the match.
“It needed something special, and some patience, to find an opening, and Gallas found it. He’s a forgotten centre-forward because he knows where to be in the box and he can turn up with a goal always when you need it.”
The game was over just a couple of minutes later when Bendtner broke with pace from the halfway line. The substitute had support from Adebayor on his left and Rosicky on his right and eventually slipped a lovely ball through to allow the Czech midfielder time to fire low past Pollitt. 2-0, game over and three points in the bag. And with Manchester United slipping to defeat at Bolton it means Arsenal have a three-point lead at the top with a game in hand. Things just keep getting better for Wenger and his side at the moment.
Special mentions for the match have to go to Gallas for taking actions into his own hands and grabbing the crucial opening goal, as well as Diarra and Denilson for ensuring the impact of losing Fabregas and Flamini was minimal. Walcott was also a bright spark up front and I though Adebayor did well despite his inability to grab a goal. On the whole though, this was another fine team performance and the side’s ability to grab late goals has meant that three points were taken from another match that last season would probably have ended in a draw.
What do you think?
Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Wigan by leaving a comment.