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Arteta (28) Vermaelen (29) Gervinho (61) Van Persie (78)
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This is the kind of game we should be winning if we are to finish the season in the top 4, never mind win the damn thing. Wigan being second to bottom had already lost at home to Spurs, Fulham and even Bolton this season so it was imperative that we left Wigan with all 3 points in the bag.
It didn’t start very well though, Moses looked to test Szcsęsny early on and Jordi Gomez looked sure to give Wigan the league but Santos was able to deflect the shot wide. However as much as Wigan started well, we were creating chances, the signs were there that we’d be able to get goals.
For some reason Wigan dropped deep and our midfield was afforded enough space to be dangerous. Eventually Arteta was allowed to pick up the ball just outside the centre circle, freely waltz to within shooting range of the Wigan goal and let fly.
A an opening goal is always a welcome relief — Although I was a little ticked off with Al Habsi for letting what seems and easy enough shot to handle but that was short lived when I remembered that I had swapped the Wigan keeper for Tim Krul in my fantasy team — and with that goal I though it would be an opportune time to take a toilet break, lo and behold when I re-emerged we had 2 goals, new striker Vermaelen was the scorer.
Usually this is the point where we — Fans as well as players — all start losing our nerves. Thing is, this is not your Arsenal of last season, you know the one who would go to pieces with a 2 goal lead. This is a more mature, more resilient and more collective Arsenal that is comfortable defending a lead. It was just a matter of staying focused and picking off Wigan when the opportunity presents.
We did exactly what was called for, we controlled the rest of the game through impeccable possession and passing football. Racking up 487 passes at a rate of 90% after the second goal — before that the passing rate was 82%. Unlike previous seasons at no time did I feel nervous or was worried about the the opposition coming back into it.
A mature, collective performance. The key word in Arsène Wenger’s post match interview was collective. Seldom can a team win games without playing as a collective and Arsenal’s 3rd goal the epitome of a collective, one scored after a 33 passes culminating into RVP’s strike being parried into Gervinho’s path for the score.
It felt that another 90 minutes would pass without a Van Persie goal, but Theo made sure that his skipper got that goal. Staying on his feet when he could have easily gone down, cutting back to RvP when he could have gone for the goal is more proof of the collective spirit on display by the team.
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Individually this Arsenal team does not look better than any of the previous six seasons, but there is this sense that collectively — I promise I won’t use that word again — they are much more than the sum of the parts.
RvP, Walcott, Ramsey, Koscielny and Arteta have all clocked over 1100 premier league minutes so far this season, with Song and Gervinho not that far behind. Having topped the group we are in a position to rest players against Olympiacos next Tuesday.
For now we enjoy the rest of the weekend and look forward to the second string getting a run out against the Greeks. Thanks for stopping by, remember to leave your comments in the section below or @wengerball on twitter.
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