What a difference a week makes. Fresh from a Man City masterclass and a walloping of Wolves, we caught that disease called complacenititis against Wigan. A team who we won 4-0 against away with such ease caused us all sorts of problems at home. It was an unexpected and unwelcome setback and makes things slightly more difficult as we vy for third place.
Wenger went with a similar XI to the game against Wolves with the only change being Rosicky starting again ahead of Ramsey. Once again Koscielny was susepnded serving out his second game, and the other regular starters out with injury. Once again there was no recognised winger, and I did not understand why. Benayoun is a good player, but we need the likes of Gervinho or Oxlade-Chamberlain in the position that he started in to add that extra spark to the wings. Too often we are caught out being too predictable down the middle and that was the case against Wigan. The wingers could have added some depth.
Stand out performer
Let’s see now…umm. There are times where it is hard to pick the man of the match for all thr right reasons where the team is playing well and everyone makes a contribution. This was certainly not one of those times. It was a rusty, complacent performance with very few shining lights. If I did have to mention someone it would be Tomas Rosicky who pressed hard and was exceptional after we went behind 2-0, but just like the rest of the team fell away in the second half.
Areas of concern
Let’s see now, where can we start? It was a massive concern to see Sagna get owned in every sense of the word by Moses. Moses probably should have had a goal himself, but missed a guilt edged 1 on 1 chance. Time and again he swept past our usually reliable right-back and it was through this that he set up the second goal. OK Sagna missed it, but even as the low cross was coming in, our centre backs could have easily dealt with it but didn’t. Then there’s our counter attack issue which came back to haunt us for the opening goal. It was our corner and within a blink of eye the ball was in the back of net…..at the other end. It was Sagna who gave the ball away which started the whole thing. It is important that if our centre halves are coming up like that, that we don’t lose the ball so carelessly and be so vulnerable on the counter:
After going 2-0 down I had a lot of faith, given our team spirit in the last month or two, and our amazing comebacks, I felt it was only a matter of time before we clawed back the deficit. We pressed very hard until half time and got our reward through a Vermaelen header, and Benayoun was desperately unlucky not to score courtesy of a brilliant save from Al-Habsi. It was a shock however, that we drew blanks in the second half. I don’t remember their goalkeeper having to work in the second half, which was hugely disappointing given the position we were in. Our midfield looked lifeless.
For them it was the perfect performance, right according to the script. They scored two early goals and put us under immense pressure. Then we put pressure on them as we looked to claw back and they weathered the storm by only conceding once. In the second half they totally shut us out and ensured the three points was theirs. Well done to Wigan, although I must say their time wasting tactics weren’t very classy at all, and took the gloss off of their performance. Its not an excuse for our loss, but it was very excessive. I can understand time wasting during stoppage time, but their goalkeeper was time wasting from the 10th minute (ever since they were leading).
The numbers game
3.47 - Shots on goal Arsenal allow on average in the Premier League this season
7 - Shots on goal by Wigan
3 - Number of times this season Arsenal have allowed 7 or more shots on goal
2 - Number of times those were losses (Man U 8-2 Arsenal, Arsenal 1-2 Wigan)
1 - Number of times Arsenal won (Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal)
14 - Number of games that Arsenal has played this season where they have allowed 4 or more shots on goal
10 - Number of those games they have lost
20 - Number of games that Arsenal has played this season where they have allowed 3 or fewer shots on goal
0 - Number of those games that Arsenal lost
It is a massive and vital game for us. We need to recover from the massive disappointment of tonight first, then prepare mentally for the next one.
We were cruising being outright five points ahead of our nearest rivals and many thought we’d win against Wigan and have a comfortable buffer into the final few games. The Chelsea game was always going to be big, but its now become even bigger with this unexpected loss.
It goes without saying that we need to take this on the chin and motivate ourselves for a strong showing against Chelsea. If the Arsenal that beat Manchester City turns up against Chelsea I will be a happy man, however if the Arsenal that played against Wigan turns up against Chelsea, it is not going to be pretty, and will blow the Champions League race wide open.