Arsenal Found Wanting In Wigan Defeat

Wigan Athletic 3 – 2 Arsenal

0 – 1 Walcott (41)
0 – 2 Silvestre
1 – 2 Watson (80)
2 – 2 Bramble (88)
3 – 2 N‘Zogbia (90)

Sometimes excuses can be made for poor performances. For the defeat yesterday, there can be none. Arsène clearly stated the frustration:

When you are 2-0 up and you play for Arsenal Football Club I believe you would not use the injuries as an excuse when you lose the game

He could have been more succinct and said that a two-goal lead held by Arsenal should never be dropped. Such is the nature of football that they sometimes are but rarely can I remember one being surrendered so cheaply. Three goals conceded in the final ten minutes is a clear signal that confidence is gone. That is Arsène’s biggest problem and one which is hardest to resolve.

Perhaps it is not that difficult to understand either this or the defeat at Tottenham. Barcelona had ended a trophy challenge. Perhaps it was the comprehensive nature of the defeat in the second leg which affected the display at White Hart Lane. It was evident in the aftermath of that game that belief in winning the title had ebbed away. Perhaps that had not seeped back in sufficient quantities following Chelsea’s defeat at the same stadium.

Arsenal knew that a win was required and for eighty minutes, it was being achieved. Not comfortably but being achieved. As full-time was signalled, the whistle was not the only thing blown; a lead and title aspirations, no matter how vague, went with it.

Arsène’s post-match comments echoed those uttered after the defeat at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. They were about maturity, cohesion and their absence from the Arsenal performance, something else he has to address before the season’s forward steps are lost in a run of mediocrity and engulfed in negativity as the final games unfold.

That almost an entire first choice XI was missing from the starting line-up indicates why the performance was not as cohesive as it could have been. Yet the idea of the squad system is that injuries can be coped with. They have been until now. It is a testament to the strength of the squad that a title which was long gone pre-Christmas last year was still achievable with five games to go.

Culpability for the defeat is shared equally by the players. Nobody tracked Watson’s run for the Wigan opener; Fabianski was at fault for Bramble’s equaliser; three defenders were between N’Zogbia and the goal when he shot – not just ahead of him but directly in line and not one of them got close enough to make a tackle.

Prior to that, possession was ceded too readily to a Wigan side chasing victory for their survival. Surely that desire cannot have been overwhelming the desire to win the title. Not every player lacked it; Eastmond and Campbell were the notable exceptions whilst at times, Bendtner was so isolated that he could have played chess with Bramble rather than chasing the ball such was the paucity of support.

Yet a two goal lead was fashioned either side of half-time. Warning signs of a goal at either end had been given. Wigan had several good opportunities in the opening quarter of the game, missed through tame efforts on goal or through the pace of the ball beating the outstretched legs of the intended target.

Meanwhile Campbell headed wide and Bendtner scuffed a shot as he lost balance to remind the hosts that their spell of pressure was coming to an end. Gradually, the midfield triumvirate of Eastmond, Nasri and Diaby imposed themselves albeit not as forcefully as they could have done, especially in the case of Diaby. It was an infuriatingly inconsistent performance, sublime and lackadaisical in equal measure. One where the immense talent he possesses was submerged beneath mediocrity.

The breakthrough when it came was reminder of what the squad is capable of, especially in the case of Theo Walcott. Running onto a perfectly weighted pass, he ran into the area, smuggled the ball through a couple of half-hearted challenges and when it seemed the chance was lost, threaded the ball under the armpit of the advancing Kirkland. It left you wanting more from the England international, more on a regular basis.

The lead was doubled shortly after half-time when Silvestre headed home, the Wigan defensive errors a blueprint for those which Arsenal followed. With a two-goal advantage at a team fighting for their Premier League lives, the shutters should have come down with Wigan picked off on the counter-attack.

It did not happen. Defending in the formation employed starts at the forward line and yesterday afternoon that simply did not happen. Time and again, the defence was exposed through lack of application in defensive duties, not by one individual but by a collection. For this formation to be more successful, the players need to fully comprehend what is required of them.

Goalkeeping though is a serious issue. Fabianski is not a bad goalkeeper, simply not ready to be Arsenal’s Number One at this moment in time. His age is on his side but Wenger needs to act quickly. Almunia is a reliable Number Two, able to slot in when required. Neither is consistent enough to be Number One. With the Pole, I suspect that will come with time but he needs to play more often to get that consistency in his judgement. He should have punched the corner which he palmed on Bramble’s head; youthful impetuosity or supreme confidence led him to incorrectly believe the ball could be caught.

It is a crushing defeat in the sense that it was to a large extent, unexpected through the fixture and the two-goal lead. Talk, however, of finishing outside of the top four is lunacy; to some extent not finishing in the top three is likewise. Points advantage plus remaining fixtures for all involved should be enough to see Arsenal through. It is however must crushing for me in the capitulation in the final ten minutes, the lack of mental strength to pull through to a win when one was required.

Finally, ACLF has been nominated for best 2009-10 Best EPL Club Blog Award which you can vote for here.

‘til Tomorrow.

535 thoughts on “Arsenal Found Wanting In Wigan Defeat

  1. who said anything about spending 40mil on one player…

    if you cast your mind back to when we were at highbury wenger spent over 30 mil in one go ( which was alot of money back then) on players like pires and edu and we won the league that season…

    the academy will always produce players now so we have no reason to buy anymore kids..

    theres nothing stopping wenger from going out and bringing in 3 or 4 top class players with experience with the kitty he now has…

    unless its just to sell season tickets and its a load of propagander..

    anyway real madrid spent 90 mil on ronaldo which was seen as ridiculous but theyve made that money back in shirt sales and got one of the best players in the process…

    its not exactly throwing money away…dont forget world class players practically pay for themselves with the money they generate commercially..

  2. and if liverpool announce they are in the shit and torres is available for 40mil would u like wenger not to bid for him becuase spending that money would be throwing it away???

    not saying that will happen its just hypothetical…

    you cant say spending massive amounts on one player is throwing money away

    its no more throwing money away then say paying someone like theo 50-60k a week for pretty much doing naff all..or paying someone like diaby 40k a week to be spineless..or paying manny 40 k a week to be shit…

    its swings and roundabouts…

    speculate to accumulate…

  3. Yogi – went to vote for ACLF and found that the Mancs only come out at night, their blog had over 50% of the vote.
    Don’t know if a win for the blog wuold just attract more like DAVE/ A real English ****.
    Better you remain a best kept secret?

  4. Read yesterdays posts… I think there is something about being able to post anonymously that brings out the worst in people. The differences in opinion aren’t big enough to explain the vitriol. It’s sort of like road rage. Blog rage?

  5. Did anyone see Campbell aganist Stoke. Did anyone see him at wigan? the guy is being softened by the prancing sissess of diaby and co. No heart

  6. Sol Campbell has done very well as a stand-in in adversity. Most Arsenal and AW supporters will thank him for that.

  7. The shock has faded…..

    It could be worse. We could be like the mancs and let a 3-nil lead slip in the quarter finals of the European Cup.

  8. Ever cared to look at the positives this season? Having a fit Diaby for so long is great in itself.However it’s his first time to finish a season and he looks tired which is excusable.Watch this space next season provided he stays fit.For fabianski he is a better keeper than almunia but is clearly trying too hard to impress and ends up making errors.Look at how he anticipated a cutback before the gaffe (top class in my opinion) during the wigan game.My humble opinion is to let fab have a run in the team and i bet you will be singing praises of him come the end of next season.What we clearly need over chamakh is a CB and i believe wenger has that sorted already.

  9. There are several good therapists on the site, OG. Unmoving Arsenal supporters and they have provided a rock for the rest of us.

  10. I’ve been therapised Frank……

    Which of the Arsenal players will be designated to kick Adebaywhore in the bollocks on Saturday?

  11. Ole Gunner – I hope none. We should concentrate on the important matter of winning the game rather than battling with Adebayor. He has moved on and should not matter to us any more than Tevez or Barry.

  12. Well all of them I think. But they will have special instructions to make sure that he is still on his feet until Robin comes on 30 minutes from the end.

  13. Perhaps Ade will not play as he is still in a fragile state following the attempt to shoot him. Which is understandable.

  14. Keysersoze,

    There are some things more important than winning. 1 of them is kicking Adebayor in the nuts.


    I vote for Gunnersaurus to sit on his head in the warm-up, accidentally sending him into a coma.

    RVP hat trick?

  15. Just having a read of some of the fallout. Thanks to Consols, OOfus, Passenal and others for the perspective, and to Ole, Frank, finsbury and many more for fighting the good fight.

    I’ve not yet brought myself to watch the game. I listened on the radio and suffered Robbie ‘fucktart’ Savage as he leapt out of his seat and screamed ‘GoWAn WIGAN!’ right down my tranny… I mean, my Dabby. I’ve been in somewhat of a foxhole ever since, licking my wounds like an old alley cat.

    I’m simply chockful of perspective today though, so anyone that calls for Wenger’s head – is gonna get it right in the chops.

  16. On the road and caught 5 mins of Arsenal 2-nil up with 25 minutes to go. Ouch!!

    As ever, viva Arsenal and let the sewer rats and other vermin go hang (haven’t even read the posts, just assuming they are out in force).

    Not a good end to the season is it, but we shall overcome. Let’s show our full support.

  17. Ole/Frank

    Is that the same Adebayor whose arse you were kissing last season when most Gooners were glad to see him go?.

    The Arsenal player who breaks his greedy legs on saturday should get a £100k bounus

  18. Yes it is true that my reaction to Arsenal players is different to non-Arsenal players. Was that not obvious, Kenny?

  19. The country mile seems to be on us frank.

    But there are some success stories this year. Song got his country mile.

    Cesc wont go to Barcelona – he never was going anyway.

    If we can get the togetherness & Solidarity that we had at the beggining of the season…

    It took Xavi and Iniesta to be 25 before they could realy play… Why should it take this batch a shorter time?

    Though it took messi some few years to realy be good…

    Dennilson will not be going to the world cup. nor will Diaby…

  20. I want Arsenal to win agaisnt Man city no doubt about that. I think there are some who are hoping we lose so the Tiny Tots don’t get the C.League spot. Then if we lose we could see Adebayor in C.league, which is not a very nice thing. Lets hope we rip the Mancs. I do not care what happens to the Spuds , they normally shoot themselves in the foot anyway.

    Thanks for the link SUGA3 I was looking for a recent clip of Cheszney could not find it. He has a very bright future that kid. Its a shame it is too early for him to come into the first team but Brentford fans have been raving about him since he joined them, he made a huge difference to their results.

  21. @1LC

    nothing better than the spuds qualifying then getting ripped 4-0 by FC Rankashapzadra and not even making the group stages… Bliss.

  22. In terms of quality of football as a spectacle. We won by a country mile.

    In terms of the courage to stick to a footballing principle. We won by a country mile.

    In terms of leading the way into a self-sustaining future. We won by a country mile.

    In terms of success in the face of extreme adversity. We won by a country mile.

  23. YW why are you blocking my other e-mail?? Anyway, guys just think about losing to citeh and adebayor running around the pitch celebrating,, running in joy at our failure and city’s success…well, that hasnt happened yet has it? Come on arsenal, some players will have to play for their futures and foremost the fan’s RESPECT.

  24. 1. Cesc making it 2-0 against spurs
    2. Fabregas equalising vs Barca
    3. Bentdner opening scoring vs Barca
    4. 2 goals in injury time vs Stoke
    5. 6-1 aganst everton

    There have been some quality moments being a gooner, it will always stay that way, what fun it is to be a arsenal fan, trophies will come, this is just the process in its teenage steps, watever happens now is a bonus.

    We love you arsenal

    Even though you depress us at (a lot of) times

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