We just don’t learn, do we now?!! If ever there was a squad in football where each and every player mastered the art of making idiotic defensive mistakes, this Arsenal squad is one.
Fair play to Wigan, they fought hard, played a positive game, and got just rewards for their endeavour. In the end they had more shots on goal and equal possession. The hosts had far more desire than anyone in a red shirt and Wenger needs to take a real hard look at many of his players who just stop playing halfway through a football game.
The first 70 minutes of the game showed us why the Latics are so close to the bottom. They had some good moments but just didn’t do enough in the final third. In contrast their defence was too open and offered plenty of opportunities to get in behind.
The start to the game was tough. Arsenal had no clue how to move the ball for the first 5 minutes and the hosts were creating some pressure in the final third. Somehow we survived that and slowly got into a good rhythm.
After that it got progressively difficult for the Latics to get out of their half as we maintained possession and pushed forward. Walcott in particular looked impressive and got in behind on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, his final decision or pass wasn’t always the right one.
It changed in the 41st minute. Bendtner received the ball halfway inside the Wigan half. There was no pressure on him as the defence backed away. The Dane had plenty of time to pick out Theo’s run with a inch perfect through ball. Walcott beat the first challenge with a deft touch, shrugged off the physical presence of Figueroa and placed it past Kirkland with his left foot. A goal of sublime quality that made football look easy.
We got a second one early in the second half when Silvestre scored from a corner. It’s been a long time since I saw Arsenal score one directly from a set piece. All looked nice and comfortable and that’s where the problems started.
After the second goal too many Arsenal players went back to second gear. The touches were casual, the intensity was missing and in general there was a false sense of comfort. Wigan grew in confidence as Arsenal dropped deep and started looking like an amateur team hacking the ball out of defence without any purpose.
I’d love to know the number of stupid, aimless forward punts we made in the final half hour of the game. Even a girls’ Under-12 school team would have a chance against this Arsenal defence let alone a Premier League side.
The bloopers have become so painful that I’m not going to watch the replays or comment on the details of what went wrong. Suffice it to say that we made unacceptable errors for all their goals.
As the goalkeeper at Arsenal is a hot topic Fabianski will get a lot of stick for his blunder. In my book we’d have lost this one even without his mistake. There were far too many players who weren’t fighting on the pitch and the defence was woefully exposed for the last quarter of the game. As I’ve said before this is not an attempt to defend the keeper but one at pointing to bigger areas of concern.
Everyone at Arsenal goes into a panic mode once some of our players stop playing. Our passing game doesn’t work and we have no alternate option. Why didn’t Bendtner make more runs into the channels if the balls were being kicked long? Why didn’t we swap Walcott and Nick so that Theo could use his pace when Wigan were pushing up? Simple answer is that everyone including the manager were clueless.
The substitutions were shocking. What’s the point of bringing Merida on when we’d just conceded a goal and were looking extremely shaky? What’s the point of Eboue making idiotic runs all over the attacking third when Sagna really needed some support in dealing with Moses? What’s the manager thinking while making these changes and what does he say to the players coming on?
It might have made a lot more sense if we’d brought Traore on and told both the substitutes to provide cover to the full backs. And this isn’t even based on hindsight. We’ve seen our defence crumble time and again. The regular midfield struggles to deal with the pressure then how can we expect Eastmond and Diaby to do any better without further support!!?
Unless Song comes back, we are in some serious trouble in these last few games.
Fabianski: Arsenal career over.
Sagna: Struggled once the fresh legs of Moses came onto the pitch. Was quite solid before that.
Campbell: Another top class performance. Some of his acceleration was a real surprise. Should have used his experience to organize the midfield.
Silvestre: Good goal and decent defensively. Can’t really blame him for any of the goals although he could have done better on occasions including the third goal.
Clichy: Had a good game but was at fault for the third goal. I don’t blame our defence too much because the support from the six in front of them is woeful.
Eastmond: Very poor. Not ready for the Premier League. Looked really nervous in the initial minutes. Having a kid like him in such an important role is far worse than playing the full game with 10 men. Did well in the middle part of the game and was poor again in the final minutes when we really needed midfield support. Can’t keep saying he’s young. If he’s young loan him out, don’t start him in the League. I hate watching a guy whose body language says he doesn’t belong.
Nasri: Once again he had a patchy game. Made some good runs but the end product wasn’t there. Contribution in defence and in keeping the ball in the last quarter hour was very poor.
Diaby: Looked impressive whenever he got a chance to run with the ball. Rubbish in the final quarter of the game. Completely switched off and made everyone’s life difficult. Should have been much closer to the defence and holding the ball with his physical skills.
Walcott: One of the better players on the night. Finish was top quality. Could have done better on other occasions.
Bendtner: His movement in the first half was quite good. In the second half he should have done a lot more. Just didn’t offer a channel for getting out of the defence. As I’ve said before, he has a lot to learn and needs to improve his work rate.
Rosicky: Like Nasri, he had some good moments. Looked tired after the hour mark. He’ll look much better if we have Cesc and RvP on the pitch but without them he struggles with the limited movement of the others. Should have done more to support Clichy.
Subs: Merida was clueless, Eboue was Daft, Van Persie was frustrated.