After beating Chelsea 3-1 at the Emirates a two days earlier and with Wigan languishing around the relegation zone on paper before the match it looked like another win for Arsenal.
But when the line-ups were made public there was a sigh going around, half our first team from the Chelsea clash was dropped for basically a must-win game, even against Wigan. The DW Stadium is a bit of a graveyard for the so called ‘Big Four’, as Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool had lost here last season but things looked to change this time around. Wigan also had not lost at home for 3 months, so history was well and truly against Arsenal.
Arsenal in essence played a 4-2-3-1 that had been doing well for them throughout the season including the win against Chelsea, but this time Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky had the main midfield roles, with Arshavin and Bendtner playing in wider positions- completely different from the start of the Chelsea game.
Arsenal didn’t start well, and I have to say the same for Wigan. Defensive errors were part of Arsenal’s defense in the opening minutes, with Rodallega coming close and Arshavin for Arsenal. Wigan launched successful counter attacks while Arsenal couldn’t even venture into the final third, hinting that Wigan would be the first to score.
They were. Arsenal gave away a controversial penalty maybe just on the edge of the box, maybe on the line, and Foster was to take it. He buried it into the bottom left corner, 1-0 to Wigan and Arsenal hadn’t even started yet.
This game had very few highlights throughout, with many shots going astray and not troubling the goalkeepers, and it was really not a match to remember. Arsenal didn’t really pick up following the goal conceded and the final result didn’t look promising, as we couldn’t venture into Wigan’s final third and create clear cut chances. Diaby was injured half way through the half and was substituted on for Wilshere.
But as with Arsenal, things are never as it seems. Chamakh went down the right, rolled it to Bendtner who shot, and was saved by the keeper. However the move wasn’t finished, Arshavin attempted an acrobatic volley to score the equalizer on the 40th minute mark.
Arshavin’s magic run wasn’t finished yet however, as minutes later an energised Arsenal scored again through Bendtner, who was assisted by Arshavin and Lady Luck, guiding the ball through for Arsenal to retain the lead at half time.
After half time we would expect the same but it wasn’t to be. Chamakh had a good chance but that was about as far as it went, Arsenal seemingly only having 5 minutes of magic and the rest minutes of dullness. The passing was too risky as the one touch passes kept going astray and giving Wigan chances to score again. Arshavin had the chance to score again but his shot was well saved by Al-Habsi who quickly dove to his right to deny the Russian. Wigan had chances through N’Zogbia, who was later shown a red card for headbutting Wilshere; it looked nearly the same as the Zidane headbutt 4 years prior and we hoped that with this red Wigan would have lost some firepower up front and would not score.
With 10 minutes to go the game was uncertain as ever, and Wigan got a corner. The ball was floated wide, headed back into the centre and Squillaci’s head was pushed onto the ball by the Wigan man into the goal. 2-2 a piece, and with 10 minutes to go against an Arsenal that only looked lively for 5 minutes.
Arsenal the realised that we could drop points against a team battling against relegation and we had some close chances that went wide, mostly through desperation. Wenger finally came to his senses and subbed on Nasri and Walcott just after Wigan scored (and not earlier) but the goal many were hoping for didn’t arrive, the Arsenal goal train didn’t stop at the 90th minute.
We were hoping for a result to push us second and compete with United at the New Year, but it hasn’t happened. We were hoping for points to keeper Wigan in the relegation zone and move further away from Chelsea in decline, but that hasn’t happened. We were hoping for Wenger to show some sense, but that hasn’t happened. And we were hoping for a good performance from our players, and that hasn’t happened.
As it stands, Arsenal are third and Wigan are 16th. Not the result that we would want to carry on from beating Chelsea at all, as the trend of inconsistency in the Premier League continues.