Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gunners Cruise, Wigan 0-4 Arsenal

The Gunners achieved a fine victory on Saturday, one they've had coming for some time.  Scoring from all angles, it was a complete performance and showcased the style of vintage Arsenal.  Granted, their opponents have been locked in the cellar of the Premier League for most of the season, Wigan were lifted by their 2-1 win over Sunderland.  And in recent memory, this fixture has been an occasion of stolen joy for Arsenal.  Although certainly the underdog, Wigan were unlikely to bow out of this contest, especially in front of a testy crowd at the DW.

The hosts opened the affair with pluck and had Arsenal penned in early on.  The Latics were on the offensive and congested the visitors final third for a solid twenty minutes.  Six minutes from the start, Wigan were pressing for the opening goal.  A dangerous cross was swatted away but Szczesny but fell kindly for Jordi Gomez.  Were it not for a superb block by Santos, the Gunners would be left to chase a very early lead.  Shortly after, the Latics' attack petered out and Arsenal asserted dominance.  The change of play was telling; the entire Arsenal squad had moved up the pitch and effectively camped there for the rest of the match.  Wigan's tactics were curious, when the Gunner's backline had possession, their forwards refrained from the slightest challenge on Arsenal's defense.  This allowed Arsenal to defend from the front, and once it developed, the result was in little doubt.  With more of the ball Arsenal began chipping away, and the goals would soon arrive.  Mikel Arteta found a bit of space and seeing the keeper just off his line, fired a brilliant shot that kissed the keeper's gloves and powered its way into the top left corner of the net.  Almost as impressive was an RVP corner, taken hardly a minute later, that was expertly headed home by defender Thomas Vermalen.  Two goals in two minutes and with twenty-nine gone, the game was all but over already.  Another corner and Walcott nearly capitalized from a scramble in the box.  Fluid passing gifted Van Persie with a shot that was also narrowly saved.  It was a tale of two very different sides at the break, and I'm sure Wigan were more than grateful for fifteen minutes' respite.

Astonishingly, Arsenal were denied a blatant penalty early in the restart as it could be said the officiating was a touch neglectful on the afternoon.  Wigan looked refreshed and attempted to claw their way back into the match.  However, the surge was short lived; on sixty minutes, Van Persie worked into space and forced a save from Al Habsi...and the rebound was bundled home by Gervinho for his third of the season.  The Ivorian was having a breakout performance and may have just outshined his Dutch counterpart.  Either way, the two were unstoppable.  Arsenal had several more chances and with goals flowing this freely, Van Persie was destined to score.  With ten minutes to play, Walcott broke down the right wing and faced the keeper in the box.  He could have elected to shoot himself, and may well have scored from that position, but there's an unbeatable understanding between he and the Arsenal skipper, and cutting the ball back, Van Persie smashed the goal home.  Captain 'Vantastic' was quick to award his teammate with the glory, and such a partnership remains unrivaled in the League.  Arsenal would nearly have another as Benayoun had a crack that was narrowly nudged away.  The Gunners were left to content themselves with four as they had virtually undone a submissive Wigan side.

A big win is always a boost, but on the heels of the draw with Fulham and Carling Cup loss to Man City, the rout was important to keep the momentum going.  Arsenal are now unbeaten in seven League games and face Everton next.  This was a very strong all-around performance from the Gunners.  Perhaps the only complaint could be with Aaron Ramsey's finishing.  He's unquestionably a valuable midfield asset, but his poor finishing often seems to result from poor decision-making: taking the shot or playing the ball.  Gervinho, on the other hand, produced (in my opinion) his finest display in an Arsenal shirt.  He was all over the place, plaguing the Wigan defense with his own efforts but also by supplying his teammates.  This striker has already greatly improved since moving to North London and we can only hope for more greatness to come.  Along the same lines, Van Perie + Walcott = incredible.  At times it seems the two are simply scoring for fun!  There's a chemistry in this squad thats been missing for many months and this truly is a dangerous Arsenal!  Come On You Gunners!!

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