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It was poor. There is no other way to describe it. Having been given a lifeline by our neighbours, Arsenal contrived to give it away the next day. It’s one thing to blow away a title challenge, it’s quite another to do it twice in a week. Coasting with two goals in an away game against a very poor Wigan side who are hovering just above the drop zone with just 10 minutes left on the clock and we should’ve ended up with the win and pulled ourselves to within 3 points of Chelsea. Somehow that panned out to be something very different.
Arsenal have showed their tendency to score in the final minutes of the game this season. This time, we were on the reverse of it. Wigan scored 3 times in the last 10 minutes to secure a win that did not look likely in the first 80 minutes of the match. Wigan did not threaten much from the start of the game and had a couple of half chances and a very decent shout for a penalty but never was there any sign that they could break through. But we kept losing the ball in the middle of the pitch and lacked all sense of cohesion in our play.
We took the lead with just minutes left before half time approaches. Bendtner slid in a delicious through ball and Walcott went past 2 players to slot home the ball. No real flow in the game but it didn’t matter as we had the lead going into the break. Things were even better at the start of the second as Silvestre put us two-up by getting his head to Nasri’s corner. Sloppy defending by Wigan but a well-placed header nonetheless.
At that point, we were looking at yet another away win, this time achieved rather comfortably without the hassle of ploughing through to the last minute to secure the win. Yet, as it often is with this Arsenal side, they like to do things the hard way. Touch after touch, ball controlling attribute seemed to have disappeared from each and every player. Craig Eastmond earned another start in the Premier League but was left very exposed by his midfield partner in Abou Diaby. The Frenchman has been in marvellous form 3 quarters of this season. The last quarter though has been filled disappointment. Time and again, he was galloping forward without so much as a thought of his young partner. I’ve lost count on the number of times when Eastmond was outnumbered in the middle of the pitch and Diaby was somewhere further upfield and out of position, looking on disinterested.
Like Wenger, I do not want to go into individual criticism but the defending of a Champions League playing side was appalling. Ben Watson was left unmarked inside the box to slid home Victor Moses’ cutback for the first Wigan goal. There were six or seven players inside the Arsenal box at the same time but only one or two were marking someone, the others were just ball watching.
Titus Bramble got the equaliser direct from a corner. Fabianski, playing in place of Almunia made a rash of catching the ball and dropped it nicely for Bramble to nudge into goal from just 5 yards out. I think that Arsenal are the only club in the Top 4 or 5 without a single reliable keeper. If Hugo Lloris is interested, let’s splashed our transfer kitty on him.
Charles N’Zogbia got the winner in the 90th minute and it came via a long ball from Wigan’s defence. Clichy allowed the ball to bounce. Silvestre allowed the ball to bounce. Hugo Rodallega accepted the invitation and slid in N’Zogbia. No midfield players were even nearby to detect the danger. The Wigan winger got to the edge of the penalty box and simply curled a wonderful effort that flew in off the post.
From a winning position to a losing one in just 10 minutes. Better teams would’ve snuff out the danger and played out the final 10 minutes more carefully and kept possession. Better teams would’ve gone on to score more at the other end. Simply put, those on the pitch today were not good enough. Some may be world class players in their own right but did not show it today. Pity it had to happen on a day when Campbell was given the captain’s armband once again. He hardly put a foot wrong in the game and once again is let down by his colleagues.
It’s been a long and hard season. For us fans, we will continue to cheer the team on. The least they can do is to show us that they care. Show us that Arsenal Football Club means something to them as well. Sad and disappointed.