Wigan 0 Arsenal 4: A great day in the office for the Wenger Boys
For starters, Arsene Wenger and his players had no excuse for anything less than three points when his side visited the DW Stadium to play a struggling Wigan side that was in a pretty good run of form by their standards (a win and a draw) leading to the match. The boss rested his key figureheads in Tuesday’s loss against Manchester City so a win was paramount because the fixtures of other rivals seemed easy on paper to say the least.
There was a stat that really rattled me before kickoff. Arsenal’s talisman in hot form has scored 17 goals in all competitions and 13 in the Premier League. The entire Wigan squad had amassed only 12 goals; true relegation form.
The game began like every other in England with both sides honoring the Welsh legend that just passed on but this time he was offered a clap offering unlike the usual ‘moment of silence’ that we’ve become accustomed too. The folks on camera zoomed in on Aaron Ramsey, the man that was bestowed with the honor of leading the Welsh National Team by Gary Speed himself.
Wigan started the game strongly when a cross from the left hand side was parried into the danger area by Wojciech Szczesny but Jordi Gomez’ follow up shot was quickly blocked by the Arsenal backline. A quick counter attack was launched by the Gunners and Theo Walcott’s drilled cross almost led to an own goal by Gary Caldwell but Ali Al-Habsi in goal spared his blushes.
Arsenal’s first goal was reminiscent of the good old days when Wenger’s men where never afraid to shoot from distance unlike the present Arsenal lot that strive to score the perfect goal with a million and one passes. Mikel Arteta charged forward with the ball but he wasn’t closed down because of the general conception of Arsenal’s football that an expected pass would follow. He decided to let one rip from distance and it was a well-struck shot that beat Wigan’s goalie.
While the gooners were still basking in euphoria following the first goal, a van Persie corner was converted by Thomas Vermaelen to give Arsenal their second goal two minutes after scoring the first. Gervinho cut in from the left before teeing up van Persie who hit a first-time volley but Al-Habsi was up to the challenge.
In the second half, Arsenal capitalized on a lapse of concentration by the Wigan backline but Ramsey failed to pull the trigger even though he had some pressure from a defender in Blue. There were appeals for a penalty but Mark Clattenburg was having none of it.
With fears creeping in on a potential Wigan goal that would offer them a glimmer of hope, Arsenal put the game beyond doubt when van Persie and Alex Song executed a neat one-two before van Persie made mince meat out of a sliding defender. Al-Habsi parried van Persie’s shot but Gervinho was on hand to finish aplomb.
That goal was really needed for Gervinho’s confidence because some sections of the Arsenal faithful have been questioning his ability in front of goal. Arteta fired another shot from distance but it was easy pickings for the goalie.
Van Persie put the icing on a well-baked cake when he converted Walcott’s pass and he was quick to show his appreciation to a player that has contributed immensely to his goal scoring exploits in 2011. Walcott had a clear-cut chance to finish it himself but he chose to give his captain to continue his amazing goal scoring form that is putting Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer’s records under threat.
Yossi Benayoun tried to give van Persie the ball to make it five but Al-Habsi saved the mistimed pass. In a weekend where the teams above Arsenal recorded resounding victories, a commanding win coupled with a clean sheet ensured that the Wenger boys had a great day at the office.
Szczesny (6.5) was seriously bored as Wigan offered no attacking threat whatsoever.
Koscielny (6.5) was steady at the back and came forward a few times.
Andre Santos (6.5) didn’t really offer much offensively but we put up a good showing.
Vermaelen (7.5) scored his 12th Arsenal goal since joining in 2009. That’s the same amount of goals Wigan has this season.
Mertesacker (7.0) continued building up his chemistry with Vermaelen and made a brilliant sliding tackle inside the box to thwart a Wigan attack.
Song (7.0) was combative in midfield.
Arteta (8.0) fired in a surface-to-goal missile and was a general in the midfield.
Ramsey (6.5) was the weakest link amongst the midfield three but he did okay.
Walcott (7.0) showed his selflessness with that assist to van Persie.
Gervinho (7.5) scored a goal that’ll put his critics off his back as he gears himself up to represent Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations coming up next month. 🙁
Van Persie (9.0) scored a goal and had a hand in two more; the heartbeat of Arsenal Football Club.
Arshavin, Benayoun and Coquelin didn’t play long enough to get ratings.
In a weekend where Yakubu Aiyegbeni hit the Auld Onion bag with four well-taken goals and Super Mario Balotelli showed off his swagger with a cheeky finish using his shoulder, Arsenal had to look onto Robin van Persie and co. to come up with the goods and they duly delivered.
Newcastle were undone twice by the cross bar while Chelsea took their chances to create a score line that was an unfair reflection of the game. It’s worth noting that Danny Sturridge has scored seven goals for Chelsea this season while the combination of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Fernando Torres have scored just five goals.
Next up, Olympiakos Pireaus and the young Guns of the Carling Cup will be on song on again.