I think that was the best Arsenal have played this season. Wigan got some joy in the opening 10-15 minutes but it was one-way traffic after that. The hosts also showed more of a fight in the second half but Arsenal were just too strong in all areas. I don’t want to do a event by event analysis of such a game but want to use Wenger’s post game interview as the foundation for this piece as the Boss’ summary was sublimely succinct and accurate.
The overall gist of the game
Wigan started well, created some dangerous situations and surprised us at the start. After that 15 minutes we took control of the game and never looked like losing that. Maybe a bit in the first five minutes of the second half.
On his side’s performance,
…we had a good team performance defensively and offensively. The confidence is there and you could feel that in the way we played today. I can only congratulate the team. They are growing and they are getting better and better. You could see there is something there to work on.
What I really liked was that Arsene didn’t get carried away with such a result. He knows there’s a long way to go and consistency will be the key.
When you look at the scores today from the teams who are in front of us like Chelsea, Tottenham and man City – they all won with two, three, four goals difference. That means it will be down to who is the most consistent out there.
I really liked the words, ” You could see there is something there to work on.” It tells me there is a strong foundation with this squad now and they are beginning to gel. But a lot more work needs to be done to achieve the level that will be needed to beat stiff competition. Sometimes, in the middle of a good run, it’s easy to forget that Arsenal are still outside the top 4.
Like most Gooners, Le Boss was also aware of the need for others to score some goals. It’s not that they were playing poorly but having goals against your name helps immensely. Gervinho, Arteta, and Vermaelen will continue to improve and the whole squad will gain greater belief.
I am happy that Gervinho scored, I am happy that we scored goals of course. But I am also happy that other players scored, and that Robin van Persie did as well. It is good for the morale of the team and overall I know they can do it.
The single biggest observation and the reason I thought this was Arsenal’s best performance of the season thus far (in an attacking sense) was
We know we can do that (teamwork), and we can do that at a good pace. Today we have seen some outstanding combinations.
Just to cite one example, according to Opta stats, Gervinho’s goal was preceded by a 33 pass move that forced a spectacular save from a RvP shot. The football just flowed effortlessly as players interchanged positions and moved the ball fast. One would not be wrong in blaming Wigan for dropping too deep and lacking any sort of confidence but that should not take away from the way every single Arsenal player performed on the pitch.
Even the goal by Van Persie came from a good build-up from the back and involved around 11 passes with the key pass coming from Koscielny to put Walcott in behind. The goal by Vermaelen was Arsenal’s first from a corner after 179 attempts in the Premier League. The first goal was a howitzer from 30 yards after a nifty run from Vermaelen who picked up the assist. This game had everything from an attacking point of view. No amount of writing can do it justice. If you haven’t seen it make sure you do so as soon as humanly possible. If you have seen it you probably want to watch it again, don’t you?
Szczesny: Should only be paid 1/9th of his match fee. Was busy and did well early on. Got the best view for the spectacle after that.
Koscielny: Was more mobile on the flanks that before. Whipped in some excellent crosses with pace. Fairly solid on the flank and in the air when needed. Joint highest interceptions.
Mertesacker: Keeps things simple. Won all his duels and tackles. Made at least one crucial block and one timely sliding tackle.
Vermaelen: Excellent goal, good assist, well positioned at the back. Quality defenders are rare and very valuable, but those who can contribute in other areas of the pitch so consistently are a class apart.
Santos: Joint highest in interceptions, won back possession more than others in the defensive third, is learning to time his runs, can do better in the attacking areas.
The defenders had to do their main jobs only in small patches. For the rest of the game they made good use of the space afforded to them. The full-backs moved forward and got involved in attacking areas, Vermaelen was supremely confident on the ball and carried it out more than once, and all this without really exposing the goal.
Song: Won 4 of his 5 tackles and was instrumental in regaining possession quickly to sustain pressure. Was a bit sloppy on the ball in the final third and lost it uncharacteristically on occasion.
Ramsey: Very efficient with his passing but not so with his shooting. Keeps getting into very good areas. Should focus on getting his shots on target rather than remonstrating with teammates when he doesn’t get the ball.
Arteta: Was looking for more penetrative passes. Not afraid to shoot from distance and made it count. That threat of scoring from distance can be vital to Arsenal. Ramsey can learn from Arteta.
The midfielders moved around seamlessly. Were quick to pounce on space and showed a much improved understanding with the attackers and full-backs.
Walcott: Wasn’t as influential as some of the other games but that was due to the quality of others (which led to a shared burden) and not a drop in his efforts. Put in some good crosses, runs were largely well-timed, another assist for Van Persie (11th in fact, equalling the number of Bergkamp’s assists for Henry).
RvP: Exceptional. My MotM, not for the goal but for the general work rate. Played as a midfielder for most of the game by dropping deep and linking play. Attempted a number of through-balls for Gervinho and others. Despite that effort was always getting into good positions in the box. Got an assist from the corner. Could have had another assist when he headed Walcott’s cross back across goal, or another goal if Benayoun could have generated a bit more power on his attempted lob. Just there everywhere to provide superb quality.
Gervinho: Good to see him get the goal. Made a number of excellent runs. Worked hard in the middle of the pitch to win the ball back. Needs to show more strength in the penalty box and has to work on some technical aspects like shooting and first touch.
The front three were very fluid in this game. Van Persie moved into midfield and the wide areas regularly. Gervinho came in just as often. Theo changed flanks on a number of occasions.
Subs: All three came on at the same time with just over 10 min to go. Coquelin was energetic and completed all 20 passes. Benayoun was unlucky not to score/pick up an assist as his lob was intercepted by a defender. Was fun to watch Arshavin’s sliding tackle on the edge of the box (thankfully the opponent was off-side).
This is a good period for Gooners. Cherish this win and enjoy the performance of youngsters in midweek. If you find some of the stats used in this article interesting, you can follow @Orbinho on twitter and check out Epl Index. Speaking of which, my stat-based analysis of the goalkeepers is now up on the site. You can read it here.