It was the last home game of the season and a vital one, very pivotal to our top 4 push. After Spurs won at the Britannia, we knew we had to beat Wigan and unfortunately, also seal their Premier League fate. Pundits believed the game against the Lactics would be a difficult one owing to the fact that they were battling the drop and will be buoyed by their surprised FA Cup conquest. Arsenal took the lead like they’ve been doing in recent weeks but were pegged back by a Maloney sublime free-kick before a flurry of three second half goals added gloss to the victory. Now, Arsenal have a leg in the top 4, all we need do is make sure we beat Newcastle but we might just snatch 3rd spot if we score enough goals and Chelsea fail to beat Everton in Moyes’ last game in charge of the Toffees.
Besides the three crucial points garnered, there were some salient points I noticed from the game and I will like to share them with you all. Come with me.
Choice of Szczesny
The battle for the number one spot at Arsenal have been fierce recently after Wenger did the unimaginable, dropping Szczesny in favour of the returning Fabianski but it became route one decision when the older Pole got injured and his younger compatriot stepped up the plate to re-assert himself in the team. But with his return to full fitness, Wenger had a dilemma on his hands and a big decision to make. If he had re-instated Fabianski back to the first team, it would have signified a loss of confidence in Szczesny and would have impacted on his long term future at Arsenal but if he had kept faith with him then, it would have meant Wenger still saw him as
the club’s number one and only wanted him to sit up and that was why he was benched. The latter happened.
Szczesny didn’t have a bad game, though he could be partly blamed for Wigan’s equalizer, Podolski sharing in the blame after he refused to jump high enough to obstruct the passage of the ball; his positioning was poor but he
also made a world class save when he saved at close range from Aruna Kone. That save proved decisive because the game was still a goal apiece then. If Wigan had taken the lead, it would had been difficult for Arsenal to win the game.
Improved performance from Podolski
For the third game running, Wenger kept faith with Podolski through the middle and the German striker showed huge signs of improvement. Not only did he grab two goals, his movement and link-up play was better. What could have been responsible for the remarkable improvement? Could it be the fact that Wigan were less defensive as they
needed to score to stand a chance of winning the game which meant they had to commit more men forward and couldn’t afford the luxury of bus parking. In the other games where Podolski didn’t really do well, there was committed defending.
Ramsey finally scores
The Welshman had been trying relentlessly to get on the scorers’ sheet for many games now but a combination of superb goalkeeping and poor marksmanship at key moments had always denied him but there was no denying the former Cardiff prodigy a well deserved goal has he capped a good performance with a well taken goal. After receiving a sublime pass from Cazorla, he ran all the way into the Lactics’ penalty area and curled in a superb finish. Now that he has scored, I fear for a celebrity’s life.
The only blip from the game was an injury to the Spanish midfielder, the former Toffee picked up an injury suspected to be a hamstring one in the twilight of the game. The good thing is that we have just a match to go, I believe we have adequate options to at least cover for that one game; Coquelin, Ramsey, Vermaelen.
McCarthy fails auditioning
One of the players to watch in the game was Wigan’s 22 year old Irish defensive midfielder James Mc Carthy. After his scintillating performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup, pundits tipped him to boss the Arsenal midfield in the crucial Premier League game and with Arsenal and Tottenham been touted for a move for him, I was keen to see him prove his mettle. In a midfield battle, Mc Carthy surrendered to Ramsey and Rosicky’s leadership. I am not disputing the fact that he is talented but he isn’t an upgrade to what we currently have at Arsenal (Ramsey and Coquelin). Our target should be someone higher.