Any hope that Wigan fans had that last week’s last gasp win at Sunderland would prove to be the catalyst for a good run were quickly extinguished at a windy and windswept DW Stadium today as a ruthless Arsenal out passed and out classed a Wigan side and in doing so highlighted the massive gap between the sides at the top and the bottom of the division.
Roberto Martinez unsurprisingly opted to retain the same team who battled so hard at Sunderland last week and for the first twenty minutes it seemed his faith would be rewarded as Wigan took the game to their more illustrious opponents.
Wigan could have been ahead in the first minute when good interplay between Moses and Sammon saw the young winger force a good save from Szczesny.
Wigan looked to stretch the Arsenal defence by using the wings and this was most effective thanks to the link work between Wigan man of the match Ronnie Stam and Victor Moses.
Latics were the dominant force in this first period but all too often wasted the opportunities they had by either taking too long on the ball allowing Arsenal to re-group or taking the wrong option such as short free kicks with the ball often ending up back in the Wigan half. The best chance
Wigan had fell to Conor Sammon when only two yards from an open goal he managed to hit the ball backwards and allowed Arsenal to clear the ball.
This was Wigan’s last real chance of the game and everything fell apart in the twenty seventh minute when Arteta broke from his own half unchallenged and as the Wigan midfield backed further and further away he launched a superb drive leaving Al Habsi stranded.
Wigan barely had chance to re-group when Arsenal were awarded a corner and Vermarlen rose unchallenged to head the ball into the net by an unguarded far post and Arsenal were two nil up in two minutes and Wigan were in total disarray.
This was in effect game over, Arsenal totally dominated possession from here on in out-passing and out thinking a static Wigan team for whom only Diame and Stam looked premier league quality in the outfield.
The fact that the scoreline was only two nil at half time was more by luck than good play as both Wigan centre halves managed to collide in the Wigan area gifting a chance to Arsenal but luckily for the home side the ball deflected out for a corner.
The second half carried on in the same manner as the first with Wigan’s midfield defending deeper but showing an unwillingness to make a tackle with the notable exception of Diame as Arsenal passed the ball around them at will. Latics were reduced to trying to catch Arsenal on the break but even then more often than not it resulted in a tame or wayward long range shot or on the occasions when a good cross came in from Moses or Stam it found a penalty area with five Arsenal defenders and no Wigan attackers.
Robin Van Persie has been touted as the most complete player in the Premier League but he was out shone today by Mikel Arteta who completely ran the show. Indeed the nearest a Wigan player got to him all afternoon was when he hugged his old friend Albert Crusat at half time. Such was Arteta and Arsenal’s dominance it seemed only a matter of time before they increased their
lead with Van Persie and Walcott both wasting good chances and Gervinho wasting a couple of chances after superb moves by Arsenal which involved twenty plus passes but unlike Wigan these passing moves actually took the ball forward.
Gervinho has struggled to find the net in his debut season in the Premier League but he made no mistake when Al Habsi could only palm away a Van Persie shot and the Ivorian blasted the ball into an empty net.
Arsenal were determined not to ease off the gas and pushed forward in search of more goals with substitute Benayoun having a neat chip headed off the line byCaldwell.
They increased their lead with fifteen minutes to go when after good work from Walcoot, Van Persie left Al Habsi with no chance firing home from close range.
Wigan continued to try and play the passing game and Stam had a good shout for a penalty but overall the play was too slow and disjointed with too many players seeming unsure of their position and the two thirds possession to the away side tells its own story.
This result sees Wigan drop to the bottom of the table again and with games later this month against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United a big improvement is needed if they are not to enter the New Year in the relegation places.
Al Habsi ( 6 ) average,
Gohuri ( 5 ) poor Caldwell ( 5 ) poor , Figueroa ( 6 ) average
Stam ( 8 ) MOM, Jones ( 5 ) poor
Moses ( 6 ) Average, McCarthy ( 5 ) poor, Diame ( 7 ) good
Sammon ( 6 ) average
Di Santo ( 6 ) average, Crusat ( 6 ) average, McArthur N/A
Man of the Match
Ronnie Stam, excelling as a wing back and didn’t deserve losing pay today
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