Wigan 2 – 2 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

If you want to understand why many fans think Arsene Wenger makes major tactical mistakes watch this game again.

Eight changes to the starting line-up from the win against Chelsea showed incredible squad depth but it also showed Wenger’s tactical weakness. There were just too many players who had either been out for a long time, or were out of form, or haven’t really gotten games this season despite being fit thus showing their place in the pecking order. It was a message to Wigan that they had a chance and the Latics took it.

Of course, there is a strong argument that despite all the changes Arsenal should have won this game. The team made a poor start but got the rhythm flowing as the half progressed, converting a goal deficit into a lead by scoring two wonderful goals in the process. Chamakh and Arshavin had good chances in the second half to make it three, Arsenal were denied a clear penalty, and Wigan never seriously threatened the Arsenal goal. If someone wants to defend the team selection there is certainly an argument to be made.

The problem was Arsene compounded his initial mistake by his half time talk. I don’t know what Le Boss said but the team came out in the second half as if they wanted to have a training session in defending a lead! The high pressing that worked wonders against Chelsea and in the first half was abandoned as the players retreated into their half and invited pressure.

Wigan when pressed high up just didn’t have enough quality to bring the ball out and create chances. They looked dangerous on a couple of counter attacks but a little tactical adjustment with Eboue staying deeper would have negated the threat posed by N’Zogbia. Instead Arsenal abandoned  the only style they’re really good at and allowed Wigan to grow in confidence. Surely if Arsenal had fresher players they should have been sharper and playing with positive intent?

To make matters worse Arsene didn’t make any substitutions. If he wanted his team to drop deep surely introducing Walcott for any one of the front three would have been a sensible choice? Why not have a real attacking threat even if defence was the priority? For large periods in the second half the gunners had no forward looking options and none of the players was able to take charge.

It seemed to me that Le Boss did make a tactical decision of moving Bendtner to the left to provide better support to Eboue. This seems consistent with an overall shift in focus towards defending in the second half. Unfortunately, and not for want of trying really hard, Bendtner couldn’t do much better. Wigan got into some dangerous positions without having the final ball and on one occasion forced a big save from Fabianski.

Once N’Zogbia was sent off for a daft head-butt on Wilshere it seemed to me that Arsenal players started taking it easy. The off the ball movement was poor as no one really knew whether to go forward or to hold back. One might say the need for a leader was evident but I feel the players at this level need to know what is expected from them. To me the uncertainty in the minds of the players shows a lack of tactical clarity in the manager’s approach.

With the likes of Arshavin, Denilson, and Wilshere offering no physical presence or height in the box Arsenal were always going to be vulnerable on set pieces. One good delivery took two points away from Arsenal.

The most frustrating part is that this game was there for the taking. With due respect to Wigan the hosts would have been swept aside if Arsenal had shown more desire and tactical decisiveness.

I thought this game can be distinctly segregated into a few parts.

In the first part, upto the time Diaby was on the pitch, Arsenal were disjointed and failed to get the passing game going. Wigan were able to press Arsenal high up and looked threatening. During this period they were gifted a penalty by the ref.

It came from a good break forward by the Latics when Denilson tried a shot from outside the box that was blocked. The ball fell kindly for a Wigan player and he found N’Zogbia with acres of space as Eboue was caught up-field in the opposition box. There can be an argument that Denilson made a bad decision when he elected to shoot.

The Frenchman was able to run right up to the Arsenal box. Koscielny did a decent job of holding his position and slowing the run. Diaby was able to catch up but his half-hearted attempt at tackling was beaten by some quick feet from the Wigan winger. Koscielny tried to nick the ball and then tried to pull his foot back when he realized he’d missed the ball. N’Zogbia got a faint touch that appeared to be outside the box. The utterly incompetent Probert pointed to the spot. Ben Watson scored with a fantastic strike that Fabianski couldn’t stop despite guessing correctly.

In the second part Arsenal completely dominated the game. Roughly speaking, this period was the time from the introduction of Wilshere till the end of the first half. In this period Arsenal scored two fantastic goals. The first one was a moment of magic from Arshavin after Al-Habsi had done well to keep Bendtner’s shot out. The second one came when the Russian set up Bendtner who got a bit lucky but finished with confidence. At this stage it seemed that Arsenal could go on and score more.

Then came the halftime break and a switch was flicked by someone somewhere. In the third part Arsenal had no real attacking intent and didn’t have the right players on the pitch for defending a lead. During this period Arsenal had a couple of good chances but nothing more.

The equalizer came from a corner in the 81st minute. It was a brilliant set-piece whipped in with pace and height towards the back post. Sagna couldn’t keep up with Rodallega who rose high to knock it back towards the middle. Fabianski was covering the near post and the centre of the goal was completely free. Squillaci had been tracking the run of Caldwell and grappling with the Wigan defender. The Frenchman couldn’t get a good jump in as he was off balance and only managed to knock it into his own net. But given his position and the manner in which he reached that there wasn’t much he could have done. When the ball is allowed to drop so close to the goal the defender doesn’t have much of a chance.

I thought Fabianski’s position wasn’t very good. He wasn’t anywhere close to the initial cross and he wasn’t able to block the ball back. The bigger problem I thought was with the positioning of Chamakh who was idle in the middle of the box. Once he realized that the ball was going to the back post he should have dropped back to the line knowing that it will be headed across and that Fabianski won’t be in the centre. Since he wasn’t marking anyone his position doesn’t make any sense. I’d not really blame the Moroccan because I’m not convinced Arsenal do this even in practice. It’s one of the reasons I feel a different defence coach is needed.

In the final part Arsenal introduced Nasri and Walcott. The Frenchman should have won a penalty when his free-kick was blocked by the hands of the defender a la Cesc against the Spuds. There were some other half chances but it wasn’t enough.

Overall it was an extremely disappointing performance in a game that should have been won.

Individual Performances

Fabianski: One good save, decent sweeping behind the back four, decent distribution, could he have done better for the goal? I’ll have to see how other keepers defend a corner to the back post. Can’t recall off the top of my mind.

Sagna: Without the support of Song he struggled on the right especially when Wigan moved forward with purpose. Good work rate, couple of decent crosses, could he have marked Rodallega better on the corner?

Squillaci: Will probably get a lot of flak for the goal but most of it will be unjustified. Didn’t make too many other mistakes but struggled a bit on the physical side of the game.

Koscielny: Conceded the penalty even if it was dodgy. Made some other important interceptions and tackles.

Eboue: struggled against N’Zogbia but didn’t have much support initially. Decent job in an unfamiliar role but it was a poor choice to play him there with Arshavin in front of him.

The back five were not convincing in this game and struggled a bit, initially due to a poor midfield in front of them, and later due to unnecessary pressure resulting from lack of intent and movement up front.

Denilson: To be fair he worked hard and gave his all. Tried to be physical and put in some tackles. Didn’t offer enough going forward and looked vulnerable at times when put under pressure.

Diaby: Didn’t last half an hour, didn’t offer much even when he was on the pitch. Made one decent run with the ball but his off the ball movement was poor and didn’t help in bringing the ball out of defence.

Wilshere: Brought energy and intelligence to the pitch along with the ability to get into the right spaces to receive a pass. Created the chance for Arshavin in the second half with a good run and pass, gave the ball away on occasion.

Rosicky: dropped deep quite often to bring the ball out of defence, didn’t have many options up front as the movement was limited, can’t fault him for effort.

I thought the starting midfield was a very poor choice and didn’t have the right understanding or balance. The arrival of Wilshere made it better but Song was missed in this game.

Bendtner: Big improvement in terms of effort as he ran a lot, even worked hard on the left in the second half. Good strike that set up the first goal, took his goal well, had a few good turns and touches.

Chamakh: high work rate as usual, didn’t have a good understanding with Bendtner or Arshavin. Should have done much better in the box for the second goal but that might not be his fault.

Arshavin: had a few good moments, exceptional goal, good assist, didn’t offer much in the second half, should have been taken off.

Subs: Wilshere I’ve already covered, Nasri had some good moments and should have won a penalty, Walcott never got the chance to get in the game.

Arsene took a gamble in this one and it didn’t work out. They can still salvage something if they win at Birmingham. Normally, I’d have thought this game can be won while that one might be a draw as Birmingham are really hard to beat at St. Andrews. Now Wenger and his players must show that resting so many will at least yield some positive.


70 Responses to Wigan 2 – 2 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Boop says:

    Same ole Arsene, always gambling.

    • aravindvr says:

      @DESI
      I think you got this one absolutely wrong Desi.
      When you have such a huge squad and when a team plays one of the biggest games of the season just 48 hrs before(and winnning it the hard way), its not at all possible to start the same team for another match without proper rest.

      With recent injury records of Cesc, RvP and others, what would we fans have been saying incase if any one of them got injured while playing ‘Wigan’.
      We would be complaining why Wenger started players without proper rest against a mid table team or may be minnows of Premiership.

      So its just the Hypocrisy within us working in full swing for the sake of whining.

      Even Wigan Coach Martinez realizes Wengers decision.
      Watch his comments after the game.
      He says its impossible for Arsene to start the same team here after such a big match.Also he said he prefered tht fatigued team over the one he played against yesterday.
      Also most of those played were full internationals.

      Desi, also you were saying like many players in our line-up did not have a proper run of games.
      I should asl Whom??
      Except for Denilson and Diaby, I dont think many have been out for such a long time.
      Rosciky, Eboue, Bendtner have played part in many games recently.
      Chamakh,Sagna,Kos,Squill,Arsh,Fabianski are 1st eleven regulars so far this season.
      tht makes it 6 ist eleven+ 3 with enough run outs+ 2 with proper recovery.And none is inexperienced.
      Its not like Gael Kakuata and Sturridge starting for Chelski or Macheda and Gibson at ManU.
      So nobody in our team was unfit or lacking and Wenger got that right.

      I think the only 2 decisions Wenger got wrong in this one was
      1.Playing Eboue against a skillful Nzogbia
      and
      2.using a unstable partnership of KOS and Squill although both are gud when partnering Djourou.

      But fixtures forced him to make these two gambles.

      Otherwise if international and professional players who had enough experience in this team to make it to starting eleven are not performing on their a day, you cant blame our Manager alone for that.
      The onus was on the players to prove their potential.Those started are neither kids lacking experience or were out for such a long time.Neither did the Manager took the gamble(if it was one) against a Top team in the Premiership.And remember we all appreciated Wengers tactical gamble and changes against Chelski 3 days bef.

      I am thankful to Wenger for saving Cesc and RvP Clichy, Song etc from injuries.With a lotta important matches lined up, I would happily take the 2 point drop rather than getting our star players injured which in effect means much more points dropped.

      So to all the Wenger bashers, Kill the Hypocrite hiding within yourself and you ll start appreciating more Wengersenal.

      • desigunner says:

        I’m not against changes. I thought the number of changes was too high and the starting line-up lacked balance.

        Eboue and Arshavin on the left with Denilson and Diaby in the middle made the team really weak defensively. To me, from the starting line-up, Bendtner and Diaby hadn’t played enough games, Arshavin and Rosicky were not in the best of form, Eboue and Denilson are low down the pecking order. That’s six players including the entire midfield and the whole left side.

        When Wilshere came on things changed a lot because it improved the midfield and the left side. What I’d have liked is a little better balance in the starting eleven and then better tactical decisions based on the way the game was progressing.

  2. Danish Gooner says:

    You can analyze till you are blue in the face,this game should have been a 3 pointer but Clouseau once again managed to completely mess it up with his team selection.This game typifies Arsene and Arsenal over the last 5 seasons,no guile,complete and utter bollocks team selection and tactics and what is wort no drive and fight for the jersey.What the hell went through his mind when he selected Eboue he havnt played a decent half this season.

  3. Filip says:

    I think the 8 changes were alright.Wigan whenever i have seen them have been a horrible horrible team. We were better than them and good enough to beat them.The problem was that we didnt try to attack in the second half. We only made 2 attacks in the second half and we made two misses ( chamakh`s header and arshavin`s one on one). After that ,there was no intent whatsoever.I dont get it. When I noticed it in the 60th min, I was just so mad.You can do that when you are two goals up ,not only 1. You dont have to be pro to know it.We put ourselves under pressure against a really poor team.Then, playing Walcott was just so obvious.Omg the most obvious thing and you dont have to be a manager.Nasri and Walcott on , Bendtner and Arshavin off and we would have killed it 20 min before the end. There was no question about that.I simply fail to understand Wenger on this one.Desi is wrong about Squillaci not making mistakes apart from the goal. He is not good enough but better than Sylvestre.Koscielny made mistakes today but you can see he is quality and will improve.I hope we give Manchester City the win because I hate seeing Man Utd winning trophies all the time.

    • desigunner says:

      Why don’t you point out the mistakes by Squillaci. I’ll be happy to know what I missed.

      • veskovp says:

        I do not think the Schilaci mistake was crucial yes cost us the points, but could have been the N Zogbia goal when Fab saved it , the question we should ask is why Arsenal did not try to kill the game. Walcot should have been the starter instead Chamakh, Bendner in the middle with Walcot on the wing, then Wigan should have defended deeper and if not they would have tested Theo’s medicine. Also Wilshere should have been starter. These two changes would have been perfect. And where is Craig Eastmond? Is not he better than Diaby. Is anyone worse than Diaby ? Until when we will have to put up with his non heart performance. Is not Wenger clear with him ? No speed, no tackling, no determination, You might survive in the slow France and German leagues with this pace but no way in England.

  4. arvind says:

    momentum was not seized with selecting 8 new players for this game. I understand the fixture congestion but we need all the points we can get. Yes, players are tired, etc but so are all the other teams during this time of year. This was an easy three points… nasri and walcott should have been brought in faster and also JD…who was warming up. SS was practiacally wrestling the Wigan player… what kind of defending is that??? Im sorry, he is a squad player and there is no wonder that Sevilla has such a poor defense in the last couple of years…. its no coincidence. OTOH, Rosicky and Denilson made some wonderful slide tackles and won the ball back at crucial times… kudos to them.
    We could have used Song as well!

  5. WC says:

    Arsene is the first one in the post-game interview after a game to say he wants consistency and then makes wholesale changes. How is that consistency? I’m not French and I don’t speak the language so maybe it means something different in French than it does in English.

    The defense leaks from yet another set piece. Do we have to wait another 6 years before Wenger actually does practices these things in training?

  6. Ash says:

    I think that wenger was right to make changes as we put in a lot against Chelsea and to an extent we were unlucky with fixtures falling as they did, giving us even shorter time to recover. I think the number of changes was too much. Surely players like Walcott could have played given he hasn’t played that much this season. I also don’t think playing eboue at left back was a good choice. But I think that this result came down to one major thing. Fabianski. I think we have all come to expect that he will make mistakes and today he made a big one which cost us two points. He had no chance of getting to the corner and at the point when rodallaga headed the ball back he was PAST his near post! If he had stayed in a good position he would have been able to punch the ball clear. Wenger had faith in this young keeper so he must expect mistakes but this is his second one after the Newcastle game so the pressure is on as we are in a really good position so I’d hate for us to lose out because wenger refused to buy an experienced keeper, shay given, offering more for scwarzer etc. But unlike many other fans i refuse to loose faith and we all need to get behind the team. I completely agree with you that having drawn this game we must now go and beat Birmingham. If we do that and win against city it will have been a great festive period and if you look at our forthcoming fixtures it looks positive.

    • apollo says:

      Why are you giving flimsy excuses like our manager?
      All the premier league teams have the same schedule, but almost all of them don’t make 8 changes from one lineup to another.

      • Incredible G says:

        @Ash – Fabianski made the wrong call on the last corner but he was under pressure for large portions of the game and handled himself fine. Are you just going to inspect his game for the rest of his Arsenal career and point out every mistake he makes? Do that for any keeper! You will see similar mistakes, that’s how goals are conceded! In a team sport you hope that your team-mates will clean up your mistakes just like it is the keeper’s job to do for the defensive mistakes of the whole team. This isn’t FIFA11, sometimes the keeper has to ask himself, “can I get there first?” He can’t always be right, no matter how good he is.

        @apollo – There aren’t any other teams that can make that many substitutions and keep that level of skill and experience on the field. That’s an excuse in itself. There is no reason why this group of players wouldn’t beat Wigan if they would show the same level of industry and determination as those playing on Monday. 8 changes may have been 1(Song) too many, we can all see, though, that 2 games in 3 days is doable but not followed by 2 progressively more difficult ones again followed by two cup ties.

      • Ash says:

        @Apollo – I’m not saying it’s an excuse, I am saying it’s one reason why we may gave failed to win thus match because we have so many games and so little time to prepare that it forced Wenger to make changes which ordinarily he may not have done, at least not as many.

        @incredible G – the keeper is different from any other player in that they can’t afford to make mistakes because it costs goals. It is a team sport and sometimes that can make it even more frustrating because the team can run their socks off fir 90mins and then an individual error costs the team points. Fabianski is like Almunia in many ways. He will pull off great saves and do good things but then make silly, BASIC errors. I would rather he not make silly mistakes I.e van der Saar. He makes mistakes too but I can’t think of more than 5 in his man united career that has cost points BUT Fabianski is young and will get better. I just hope his inconsistency doesn’t cost us too dear. He certainly cost us last year but he has improved so we just have to support him and hope for the best. I personally don’t think he is good enough, yet, and won’t be for a few years but I hope I’m wrong!

    • desigunner says:

      No keeper can stay in the middle when the ball goes to the back post. This is because the attacker is very close to the goal and a header towards the near post would be impossible to stop if the keeper is not closing down the angle.

      In this particular case there might be an argument of whether Fabianski could have been a yard behind where he was or if he could have been at 45 degree to the goal instead of 90. But at the speed at which these things happens it’s very difficult to get this right.

      That is essentially the reason people try to put a corner to the back post, it takes the keeper out of position.

      I think Wigan executed their set-piece well but Arsenal could have done better if they had a man dropping back to cover the center. Chamakh was completely free in the box, not marking anyone, adding no value. In training he should be told to read the cross and if it’s going beyond the back post, he should be dropping closer to the goal. It cannot be done without a great deal of practice.

      This season I’ve lost count of the number of mistakes Van der Saar has made. He hasn’t conceded too many points because at the other end they’ve managed to score more or the opposition player hasn’t made full use of the gift given to him. Even in this game if the ref had given the penalty it would have been 3 points to Arsenal. So to say Fabianski cost us the points is a bit of a stretch.

      • Ash says:

        Desi, I agree that van de Saar has made mistakes this season but perhaps that’s because he is set to retire at season’s end so age might be catching up to him! Perhaps a better comparison would be when he was at his peak at Juventus or Fulham. That’s the kind of keeper we need but they are hard to find and I think for now we must support Fabianski but that doesn’t mean we can’t make an honest assessment about his performance(s). The black and white of it is that the goal we conceded could and should have been prevented if Fabianski had stayed inside his goal area rather than a yard past his far post. I agree he needed to follow the flight of the ball to cover his angles but it is beyond me why he ended up so far away from what should have been his correct position. I think Squillaci was caught wrong side of his man and there should have been more cover but unless Chamakh was two yards from the line in the centre of goal there is nothing he could have done about the ball headed back and let’s face it perhaps he was thinking that that is the position the keeper should have been in!!! I think as a team we need to defend set plays better as it isn’t all down to the keeper. Perhaps Wenger needs to adopt a different strategy for different teams. A part zonal part man marking system works for the team I play for. Put your best and tallest players on the opposing teams best players and the rest doing zonal. With practice and research it becomes very hard to beat. We tried it once against Chelsea a few years back and we conceded a Gudjohnson header but then Wenger abandoned it. He should gave stuck with it and practiced it further. Anyways, on to the next game. Keep the faith and continue the good work!

  7. pasolo says:

    wenger is making us loose points.he should have made changes to ashavin and bentner brfore the eqauliser. wenger should stop costing us matches and do the right thing. Mr wenger…………

  8. Wilsheres dad says:

    I think that this team selection ought to have been good enough to take the 3 points, even if in an unspectacular fashion.
    However, what dismays me utterly is being
    2:1 up, with 12 minutes to go & Wigan (having lost their main atting threat)are down to 10 men,
    we can’t see the game out.

  9. Long Island Gunner says:

    I always say that great teams take the whistle out of the referee’s mouth and this was going to have to be one of those games – red card notwithstanding.

    The referee basically provided the home team with a 2 goal positive difference in the match with the non-contact penalty call for Wigan’s goal in the first half and the no-call, obvious handball in the second half.

    That said, the initial header across goal from the corner that created Wigan’s 2nd, was not challenged properly by any stretch. And Fabianski was – again I’m afraid – not up to the task (“up” maybe being the operative term as a taller keeper would have snatched the header back in the air).

    A win at birmingham would keep us on track at the Holiday period with the big game vs. Man City still critical.

  10. Carl says:

    Really disappointed after that game,The referee did make major mistakes but the team choice was a massive gamble and it didnt pay off.There was always going to be changes but 8 was way too many, this wasnt a Carling cup game, we needed 3 points and to build momentum. I feel sorry for the team who worked so hard for the points on Monday, feels wasted right now.

  11. Ryan says:

    Man I am really starting to get annoyed with Squilacci, and I’m not talking about the goal, Sagna saved his ass 3 times coming accross to make a block from poor positioning (by the way, best right back in the PL, rock week in week out).
    Other than the goal, Arshavin was God awful, re-watch the game and watch how many times he gets blown by like a statue..defensive liability. Denilson is SO predictable and WEAK on the ball, watch the guy he puts his own players in trouble by passing into traffic, pay attention to how he passes to a players left foot which the defender is on instead of his right, pay attention to how many counters come off of Denilson mistakes, and how many of out own players get injured from him passing into traffic, and then watch him jog back after he does it. Eboue did NOTHING going forward, we need something from you son.
    The problem is these guys just must not be good enough, I’m thinking to myself, if Im Denilson for example, here’s my chance to prove I should be first choice, but no accross the pitch everyone drops off from the first whistle. No one made a case, but that’s what should be happening, with most of out squad fit (for once) give the manager a selection headache instead of a damn ulcer!

  12. gunner04 says:

    Was there any true leader on the pitch? I really doubt. Wenger rates Squillaci very highly about his leadership. But he or even any arsenal player never protested for the no-contact-outside-of-the-box penalty against us. So there was absolutely no effect on the conscience of the refree about the decision and who knows if there was any, he could rightly award the deserving penalty for us in the dying minutes. but in the end nothing happened and we did drop two very gettable points even with the squad on the pitch.

    • santori says:

      This is a problem. All well and good to say that everyone is a professional on the pitch and should know better as to what is expected of them…but it doesn’t work that way.

      Someone has to grab the lads by the scruff of the neck and make sure they are concentrating.

      Fabregas (who wasn’t playing) isn’t it. He can lead by example but he can’t dictate or get the lads to pull their socks up when the going gets rough.

      To my mind, top candidates for the job are Vermaelen, Nasri and RVP…none of which were of course, on the pitch.

  13. WillyG says:

    This is what happens when you have no respect for your opponents!!
    ‘We’re playing Wigan? What? They’re in the bottom 3? Oh, OK, in that case, I’m sure even Diaby and Denilson can handle them.’

  14. frank says:

    some players are just not good for arsenal

  15. Raghugovind says:

    Arsene is solely to blame for this lose . How can he aplly a defensive approach in the second half with 3 out and out strikers ( Arshavin is a striker for me as he hardly defends)? Secondly you have one player who is struggling for form and when he almost gets into some , what do you do change the flank from which he plays . Agreed that the particular stratergy was employed to keep Charles N’Zogbia quite but Arshavin likes to cut in to his right and thats how he scores most of the time. Arshavin was almost invisible in the second half and though he did get close to scoring but it was on his weaker foot. The team was selection iis definitely not an issue as this team was well equiped to defeat Wigan . We had a chance to be level with United on points and we blew it !!

  16. Ajinkya says:

    Do not lose, that is the only thing i will say right now.

  17. Karthik says:

    Lots of people are mumbling about the 8 changes(not necessarily here), well 4 of them were highly justifiable- Rosicky for Cesc(suspension), Eboue for Clichy(a knock), Squillaci for Djourou(Precaution to not strain him), Chamakh for Van Persie(Same reason). As for the other four, who doesnt agree that Song, Wilshere and Nasri could do with a rest? The only real change that could be questioned was Bendtner for Walcott. We had a penalty turned down, and we conceded one, and we defended badly, but tat always happens when our midfield moves high up. All 3 of Rosicky, Denilson, Diaby/Wilshere played higher up than most games I remember, that cost us in stability I guess. Still, ’tis but a battle and not the war! Keep the faith!

    • Finnish Hit says:

      Excellent comment, Karthik. It’s what I like about this blog, some people think and analyse before they post. Your maths add up very well.

    • desigunner says:

      I thought 8 changes was too many. The midfield didn’t have enough understanding and the left side was defensively quite weak. The difference subtle changes can make can be seen from the way Arsenal played after Wilshere came on.

      The players have just had two weeks without a game and some like Walcott have missed a number of games. So why not play them?

      As I said in the preview it was a very hard decision but Wenger gets paid to make these and I thought he got it a bit wrong, compounding the problems with lack of action in the second half when the team’s performance level was dropping.

      • Finnish Hit says:

        When I saw the lineup, I actually wished that they had been practising with the “second” lineup as a team for a while. Of course the first 20 minutes at Wigan showed that that was not the case.

        It was not about the players chosen, but the little things like lack of pressure and the great efforts of the Wigan team. What a great corner they had for the second goal!

      • veskovp says:

        HI Desi,

        I do not believe we have good cover for the the left side for Clichy , but Eboue is rated high from Wenger, so he should have been told to stay back and be aggressive on tackles, but even early in the game he was skinned too easy from N Zogiba, Clichy has better pace than him ,but he has similar defending qualities, so staying back would be the necessary cover for the left side you are worried. Arshavin never defends, so our left side has not been worse than what we have all season and we are doing fine. Our attack with the selected tactics for the second half playing counter attacks did not make much sense, two tall players , but no crossing, and not direct balls on the wings toward the wingers. Just boring short passes left and right , not speed and not surprise, it was all wrong from the start and you can see the low commitment and determination in the players body language. Was little unhappy after the game with Wenger’s coments about players being tired when 8 of them have not played in the last 2 weeks. And the bad sign 3rd goal from set piece in the last few weeks(Totenham, Wigan, Chelsea). Still optimistic, and let’s gun for tweo quick wins with Fab, Walcot, RvP and Nasri in the tea
        m

  18. critic says:

    what’s up with arsene? Being a top class manager he should have learnt that set pieces, indecisions in defense, no clear tactics are between the way of greatness and arsenal. He can’t keep such a talented squad forever u know and this is the best chance for rewriting the history(winning the pl after losing 5 games before christmas). I mean same problems have been there since last 2-3 years why can’t he correct it? we can’t win anything if we don’t have a proper defensive organisation.

  19. santori says:

    Well it would seem match against Chelsea not withstanding, Wenger is back to his suspect old self.(Desi, I believe you were a little to quick in dispensing praise on monsieur’s improvements on the tactical side) 😀

    He is a brilliant manager in terms of buying/building a team but in terms of tactics, he can be found out….

    I have no problems with the rotation but :

    i) He should not have switched around the Cbacks. To me, the best pairing should be playing and Djourou/Kos seem to be developing a common understanding (last match). Why throw a spanner in the works with this one? Cbacks do not exert quite as much energy as the mids so I don’t see any reason to suggest switching them around, even if the schedule is a tad ridiculous.

    ii) The midfield as you have pointed out would suggest a flawed decision on the part of Wenger in particularly pairing a player recently returned from injury (the ineffective Diaby) along one not terribly convincing in covering (Denilson). Certainly, it would have been better had Song been played to add continuity in front of the Cbacks but I think my choice would have been to play Rosicky next to Denilson…

    iii) Eboue…it would seem that with AA operating in front of him that Wenger would have predicted some chop for the poor Ivorian. This particular aspect was certainly not lost on the likes of Martinez (or Nzogbia). Yet Wenger took way too long to switch things around and reinforce Eboue against his tormentor. My preference would be to have Rosikcy play alongside Denilson (or Wilshere) thereby allowing the Czech to assist Eboue if need be.

    Alternatively, AA could have been shuffled middle with Rosicky operating left.

    What a missed opporunity after all the hard work on Monday! My only consolation is we did not lose and it’s too early to tell as there are several more games coming up thick and fast both for our title contenders and us.

    BUT Wenger could really benefit from some help tactically. Again I go back to the need for a better assistant (Pat Rice leaves end of the season, we need a shake up in the back room)

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah that left and center looked really weak by Arsenal standards. Not a surprise that it improved a lot after Wilshere came on.

      If they’d started the second half the way they did against Chelsea it would have been a completely different story. But for some strange reason they just dropped back despite being the fresher, fitter side.

      • santori says:

        One does wonder what Arsene brings along for his pep talks.

        You’d think he should just bring along the lkes of old Keown, tell him to say nothing…simply scowl in a corner…should be effective enough. 😀

  20. critic says:

    does board needs to intervene and do a west ham by bringing in proper defensive coach? Or does arsene need to realise it pressing all over the pitch week in…oops…day in day out (really, the schedule was pathetic…1 day?!) is the only way arsenal is comfortable with?

  21. Tim says:

    Our (i.e. the fans’) expectation is as big an issue as anything. With four games in such quick succession, squad rotation is inevitable. And I’m willing to bet no one comes out of this sequence with 12 points- it just doesn’t happen very often.

    Having said that, the team Wenger selected was risky, yes, but should still have won this game easily. Too many players who should be fighting for more regular games simply underperformed. And of course a penalty at the end would have helped!

    This was not the end of the world, though. But it does mean we cannot really afford to slip up in our next two games.

    http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2010/12/29/poor-arsenal-and-poorer-officiating-let-wigan-escape-with-draw/

  22. Ajinkya says:

    What’s the noise about the assistant manager?
    What is his job actually?
    Because Pat Rice was the assistant during the Invincibles also.
    It is Wenger who sometimes gets the tactics wrong
    (or it maybe that the other team does not play the way he wants :D).
    He should stop taking unnecessary risks now.

    • desigunner says:

      🙂

      I think the assistant manager can bring in some fresh ideas. Defending and attacking corners/ set-pieces has been a weakness for Arsenal for a long time now. Not sure it’s Pat Rice’s fault but if it’s not his fault shouldn’t he identify where the problem is and attempt to rectify it? Does he have a say against Arsene? We don’t know these kind of details so it’s difficult to form a definitive opinion.

      • santori says:

        Well, I for one wouldn’t want Wenger gone. He’s benefits outweigh his faults by far.

        However, Pat Rice is leaving come end of season and to my mind, an effective way in strengthening Arsene’s Tactical deficiencies would be for him to get a strong assistant alongside him…

        …or 2-3 assistants. He could also benefit from a shake up with the back room staff, maybe get a young (ex Gunner) offensive coach and a young (ex Gunner) defensive coach, both to iron out our per ususal kinks.

        On the flip side, it would also benefit him (and the club) in potentially grooming succession from within, through helathy competition.

        Remember, the tactics(and playing field) has change since we last won with the invincibles. New thought and tactical nous is much needed to give us that extra edge.

  23. Wenger still has alot of problem as manager and he can not win Barclays premier league this year because he make silly mistakes .He needs to buy quality number 6 ,a quality defender and a more agressive and quality stiker like Benzima,Van vart,berbatov,samuel Etto,etc and learn from Sir ALex Fergerson when it comes to struggling for tiltles otherwise he has outlived his usefullnes.

  24. critic says:

    on second thought, arsene acknowledges one of the main problems in arsenal defense in his post match comments.(lack of leadership in defense)
    Hoping that he wud solve it this season.
    My opologies for previous comments.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah those were interesting comments. Don’t recall Le Boss accepting such things openly that often 🙂

      • santori says:

        At the back…leadership

        In the absence of Vermaelen I believe the keeper should give the shout.

      • JP says:

        Finally some honesty re the defensive problems being shown publicly. It’s nothing new (defensive issues) as the fans have been saying this for some time. Wenger bought Kos and Squilacci so he should have known this. Last year we had a good run at CB with Gallas and Verm but had injuries everywhere else now we have injuries at CB and most other positions are ok. I think Kos will be good in the future but we don’t have time for a developing CB right now. Vermalen and Djourou are our best bets right now and we will have problems from here on in unless one of
        them are in the line up trust me.

  25. Incredible G says:

    @Desigunner – Yesterday you described the selection for this game as a headache. You knew that Wenger was faced with a hard choice. You could argue he made the wrong one by changing so much but we mustn’t emulate the pundit’s sensationalism by claiming that the draw is evidence that fewer changes would have earned us the victory. The changes robbed a bit of momentum but as the chap above has said, most of them were necessary and in the context of the difficult games starting this weekend.
    As you said, Wigan have not been beaten at home since September. That means something when you’re stuck in relegation-land.

    I usually defend Andrei Arshavin because I believe that the goal and assist stats ARE the most important things when judging a forward. If he provides us with goals in at least 1 out of 2 games, you can’t question his value! That really is potent by most EPL player’s standards.
    However, I think games like yesterday’s following games like Monday’s do show him up. For our style of play, we need him moving for 90 minutes.
    The counterpoint to that is that his potency comes from his ability to slip the concentration of his markers by looking lethargic and that forcing him to change his game would damage this.

    • desigunner says:

      I didn’t wish to imply that the draw was solely down to the changes. The changes reduced the difference between the two sides. Subsequent tactical decisions or lack of those made it even tighter. Some mistakes by the ref and by Arsenal players eventually led to a draw. It’s always a combination of a number of factors.

      I think Arshavin struggles a lot when the team drops back and stops playing the Arsenal way (high pressing, quick passing, lots of movement). He cannot contribute much in that case and the best option would be to take him off.

      • santori says:

        Spot on on AA or perhaps switch him central (just behind the main striker)and have Rosicky (or Diaby) cover left.

  26. Miranda says:

    Only one thing to say. Set pieces. For years it’s been our weakness so it wouldn’t be fair to blame Fabianski entirely. However, so long as he is in goal this situation isn’t going to get better, whereas with Szczesny it might. He’s confident, determined and mouthy; even on his first game you saw him actually taking charge of the defence.

    The other thing to say: we need a second Song. I don’t mind Denilson (though I suspect he’ll soon be leaving) but he doesn’t do anything like as much of the dirty work. Diaby will never do that job either, or indeed any job probably. Since Dan Smith virtually severed his foot from his ankle, he’s been finished. Always crocked and, which is sad to know, apparantly always in pain.

    • Ajinkya says:

      Correct. A DM is needed. Or as Desi said a CB who can play DM.

    • samuel says:

      I agree about needing another Song but who do you have in mind Miranda or maybe Aaron Ramey ,when he,s fit ?

    • desigunner says:

      Somehow I have a feeling this problem starts with Arsene. All of last season I kept pointing out instances where Arsenal players were afraid of knocking the ball out for corners. They tried crazy reverse clearances and often put the ball back in dangerous areas leading to goals.

      Even after the Wigan game Arsene made a comment that we should not have conceded that corner. I feel Wenger is uncomfortable with these set-pieces. It could be that he doesn’t have the right coaches for that or that we have too many midgets or a combination of some factors. The unfortunate end product is that Arsenal are not very good at attacking or defending set-pieces.

      • veskovp says:

        Also it is hard to defend corners, in order to train defending corners you have to know what would be the tactics of the opponenet and this can never be known so the best defense is to not concede corners, and better concede touches if you do not play against Stoke :).

  27. samuel says:

    How many more times does it have to be pointed out that Song has ben covering Sagna for quite some time now ,mainly in defence as last night showed ,Sagna went up for the corner kick late in the game from Wigan but failed to get the ball before it was headed back across goals leaving Squillaci in a difficult position,facing his own goals and scoring an own goal,Sagna is a huge problem at the back so why doesn,t Arsene buy Mark Albrighton from Aston Villa with his crossing of the ball into the box something else,just what Chamakh needs,quality crosses ,and plenty of them ?

    • veskovp says:

      Are you kidding, have you been watching Arsenal at all? Sagna is the only world class defender we have
      except Vermalen and can not be blamed for the goal, Where were Chamakh and Bendner in the corners, do you remember how many time RvP was defending corners against Chelsea, this is what should Wenger points to as well as the bad discipline, Arsenal tend to drop the speed when lead the score , many times we suffered from that, the last time against Spuds, also the last few minutes against Fulham at Emirates were scary , plus the away games at Blackburn and Everton.

  28. Finnish Hit says:

    Good analysis, as usually. Something went wrong with teamplay at halftime. I wouldn’t say the substitutions were late though, the game could have gone either way and with only two left, one would want to look a little further. Djourou was warming up with Nasri and Walcott. In 20/20 hindsight, we could argue it should have been JD to come on…

    Sorry to see that even this blog is now infected by the whining misery brigade commentary.

    • desigunner says:

      We could have carried on with the same personnel if the team had been interested in attacking. Once they decided to defend in the second half Arshavin was completely out of the game.

      Arsene had to either change the way Arsenal were playing (which seems difficult to do from the bench) or introduced someone who will offer better defensive protection for eg move rosicky to the wing, bring Djourou as DM push Wilshere further up.

  29. Furovich says:

    I like your sense of irony in the opening paragraph 🙂 Sadly though you are right. What a terrible game.

    I believe Wenger obviously should of made some changes but to make 8 and the way he did, I dont understand. For example playing Eboue and Arshavin down the same side is suicide. What’s more, when it was evident the team was playing so badly, why not make some half time substitutions. With Diably, Denilson, Eboue, Arshavin and Bendtner on the pitch at the same time, their weaknesses were really evident.

    What a terrible game to drop 3 points against an almost hopeless opposition. You can’t expect a team to win anything playing like this and Arsenal have already done it far too often this season.

    What I really didn’t like though was Wenger’s complaining to the 4th official after the match about a lack of added time. I couldn’t believe that after such a poor performance, he had the desire to complain about added time. That was very dissapointing.

    • desigunner says:

      🙂

      Arsenal dropped 2 points but it sure does feel like 3!

      Well at the end it’s just an emotional moment. Arsene couldn’t have done much at the end so he was just talking to the 4th official. I guess it’s just one of those heat of the moment things.

      • desi 'GOONER' says:

        You are absolutely right. I was there and without exception, we all felt as if we had acutually lost the game. You could sense the tension in the latter part of second half and strangely enough, with about half an hour to go, quite a few of us were shouting and hoping that Arsene will make the substitutions without any further delay. Off course these came a bit too late. It was one of the most depressing return trips, I have ever experienced.

  30. critic says:

    wenger’s tactical inability was shown in the 2nd half when arsenal decided to absorb pressure instead of going for 3rd goal.,and abandoned their pressing game.

    U r wrong in saying wenger showed his tactical inability by making too many changes.Arsene is using gps tracker to track distances run by players and eventualy can judge players fitness levels more accurately than u.
    If any injury had occured everybody wud have blamed him(remember fab in cl).

    And what’s with the starting lines of article??yeah we all felt very low after such a high but we don’t have 2 write blogs, neither we have audiences. U have to be a bit more responsible.,coz u have the power to influence opinions.

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry you missed the point. Have explained it further with replies to other comments hopefully that’ll give you a better idea.

  31. […] Wigan 2 – 2 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis If you want to understand why many fans think Arsene Wenger makes major tactical mistakes watch this game […] […]

  32. Claver says:

    The team selection was correct. The game itself was saved by the goals, in the first half. The general play of Arsenal was sharper after the first goal.

    The problem is that the players did not play like first teamers. There was no hunger to take the ball off of Wigan. In particular Bendtner, Arshavin, D

  33. Claver says:

    The team selection was correct. The game itself was saved by the goals, in the first half. The general play of Arsenal was sharper after the first goal.

    The problem is that the players did not play like first teamers. There was no hunger to take the ball off of Wigan. In particular Bendtner, Arshavin, Diaby and Rosicky had really poor movement off the ball. They are fantastic players with the ball but off the ball they were really poor. Arshavin can get away with it because he scores goals, Rosicky for me is just not cutting it, these are experienced players who ought to know better. Diaby needs some serious sitting down. The only reason he is not a first teamer is that he isn’t doing the required stuff off of the ball.

    Eboue and Denilson were bright and eager. Eboue coped very well on the left, he will probably start against Birmingham on the right if Wenger wants to give Sagna a rest.

    I can’t wait for Ramsey to come back, hopefully he’ll be sharp, I think that he may replace Rosicky.

    I rate Parlour, so I think that Wilshere will be more like Parlour.

    We have a pretty strong squad, however, there are some players who have the right mentality and others who are in danger of being left behind.

  34. santori says:

    On a dimmer note…it would appear Diaby has suffered anither knock. Should have just played Song on hindsight, at very least he seems built like a tank.

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