I guess this was as easy a game as Arsenal will play all season. If it had been a non-Arsenal game I’d have stopped watching after 10 minutes or so. But because it was Arsenal I had to struggle through a shaky and hazy stream at the risk of enduring a headache later, which is now and I have a bad one.
I’m not sure if there is any point in analyzing a game like this so I’ll just mention some top of mind thoughts.
Arsenal could have scored a dozen goals in this one if the attackers, particularly Vela, had been clinical in front of goal and the officials hadn’t decided that this game will not have penalties.
Wigan will be in serious trouble come May if they don’t show a drastic improvement on what they did on the pitch in this game.
In the first half every big moment came through Van Persie who was on a different plane compared to everyone else. The Dutchman laid it on a plate for Bendtner and Vela who messed up the simplest of chances. Perhaps it was the weather.
The first goal came late in the first half from a good corner taken by Walcott. None of the Arsenal players got a touch but their movement did enough to distract the Wigan Captain Alcaraz who turned it into his own net. I was impressed by Theo’s delivery from set-pieces.
After the first goal the game opened up a lot more and Arsenal created chance after chance in the second half. Van Persie and/or Wilshere were at the heart of most of the good moves. Vela’s movement was excellent but his finishing was just the opposite.
The second goal cushion was secured in the 67th minute. Van Persie slid it out to Vela whose cross found Bendtner at the back post. The Dane bundled it in, somehow.
Wigan tried to go forward but Arsenal did well collectively. On the other end chance upon chance was squandered and it saved the visitors from going back with a humiliating score line.
I don’t want to dwell on the missed chances or the lacklustre opening half hour. There were too many changes to the team and some players were clearly lacking match practice and confidence. This was a good result made even better by the spanking received by United. I think the home and away factor made a big difference in both games. Hopefully, we’ll get the second leg at home in the semi-final.
Szczesny: Didn’t have much to do. Swept well and one good punch is all I can recall.
Eboue: Looked a bit casual and struggled against Moses. Not convinced he has the focus needed for this level. Almost gave a goal away with a terrible and careless back pass. Nothing worth noting in terms of attacking or defensive contribution.
Djourou: Read the game well and looked composed on the ball. Good physical presence. Covered the right side well behind Eboue.
Koscielny: Pretty much like Djourou. Excellent tackling.
Gibbs: Had some good moments on both ends of the pitch but also had a couple of wobbles at the back. Lacked match sharpness but looked promising.
On the whole the defence wasn’t really tested. They won’t find another team with such a weak and uncoordinated attack again this season.
Denilson: Had some weak moments on the ball but did well mostly. Stayed close to the defence for large parts of the game and kept the ball moving.
Wilshere: Pretty much like Denilson in the first half. Came up with some delightful balls in the second half after the game opened up.
Van Persie: Arsenal need him fit for the rest of the season, no doubt about that. Incredible vision and execution. Still not close to his best so will only get better with games. If RvP plays, I’ll be much more confident in the big games in December. Had an injury scare early in the second half!
Overall the midfield did alright but not as well as I’d have liked. We should have kept the ball better, moved it faster. They did a good job of supporting the defence and I won’t be surprised to hear that Arsene had a safety first policy.
Walcott: Had an on and off game. Good delivery on corners, not so good on crosses. Good movement but didn’t find enough space. Finishing lacked composure. Was double teamed by the defenders every time he started running with the ball.
Bendtner: Scored a goal but didn’t play anywhere close to his potential. Needs to do more on and off the ball.
Vela: If we leave the missed chances out the Mexican had an excellent game. Put in some good crosses, one led to the goal, another should have led to a penalty. His movement was excellent as was his positional sense and defensive contribution was decent. But he missed so many chances that it’s difficult to ignore them. Clearly lacks confidence and was probably thinking too much about impressing.
Subs: Nasri didn’t have to do much but missed a glorious chance, Eastmond did much better than he’s done recently. JET didn’t really know how to get involved.