Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just the Three Against Wigan

If there's one disappointing thing about the consecutive 3-0 league wins against West Ham and Wigan, it's the blatant disregard for goal difference.

In the 2nd half at Upton Park, Arsenal settled for keep ball. At the Emirates today, Arsenal could have scored as many goals as the visitors have points (almost). Instead they ended with three, while at Old Trafford Man United ran in another five against Birmingham. In title race terms, they now hold the advantage on points, in games in hand and on goal difference.

Wigan on their travels don't tend to be the most fearsome proposition. Walcott terrorised their back line and twice his cut backs should have led to the opener. Van Persie and Fabregas were denied by a great save, then a great block. The seemingly inevitable opener came via the left foot of the Dutchman. Song's pass released Van Persie, and he finished with trademark power.

The rest of the first half comprised a tale of wasted chances and great goalkeeping, with Wigan offering NOTHING to divert Djourou and Koscielny at the other end. At half time there may have been anxiety at total dominance yielding only such a slim lead.

No matter, Fabregas and Van Persie combined to finish Wigan off. The Spaniard played a raking diagonal ball into the box, and the Dutchman slid to volley into the net.

Van Persie had never scored a hat trick for Arsenal until today. He might have been wondering, at one point, if he ever would. When Fabregas took advantage of minimal contact from Caldwell in the area, the defender was dismissed, and Van Persie had a gilt-edged chance. He sent his penalty into orbit. Then he shot from the edge of the box, and the ball hit the outside of the post. The 1045th time he has hit the woodwork in his Arsenal career.

Finally, he had his moment of glory, when Walcott held the ball up Shearer-style in the box, and RVP steamed in to shoot in at the near post, right-footed. Six goals in three games for a player who tends to score in bunches.

At the moment, all of Arsenal's attacking starters look to be in decent shape, and with a lot of home games coming up, they should look to record a few convincing victories. This will cement the sense of momentum suggested by the last few games, and consign the season's early, patchy home form to memory.

Next up, a vital game against Ipswich, much as we'd like to pretend the League Cup doesn't matter.

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