Just one more to go then.
The last home game of the season ended on a very positive note and any win is a good way to repay the fans for providing the support throughout the entire 10 months. The win left us holding on to 4th spot as the battle for the Champions League goes down to the wire. Unless Chelsea lose their final game of the season by a million goals, there is no way that Sp*rs could overtake them.
The placing at the end of the Sunday might be different but the final 2 spots for the Champions League will go to Chelsea and either one from us or Sp*rs. An interesting scenario has since come up and that’s the idea of a 39th game. One which could happen if certain score permutation happens with Chelsea drawing and us winning on Sunday. I like the idea but we should only have Newcastle to worry about now.
Last night was the crucial game for us. With the other two teams winning their respective games at the weekend, we had a few more days of pressure building up. Which sometimes can be detrimental to a team. It is easier to set the tone than to live up to increased expectation. Except for the change at left back, Arsene Wenger called upon the same side to send the home fans off. Kieran Gibbs was used because of Callum McManaman’s pace (who says Wenger doesn’t do tactics, pfftt)
We did start well, scoring in the 11th minute as Wigan’s defence went to sleep during a corner. Lukas Podolski’s first as a starting central striker for us. However, that did nothing to calm the nerves. In fact, Wigan took the cue from that to boss the game. They eventually finished with a higher ball possession percentage than us, indicative of how much we allowed them back into the game.
Roberto Martinez’s side are still riding on the wave of their FA Cup triumph on Saturday and capitalised on continuous poor passing from our team. It’s easy to criticise the wall for not jumping or Wojciech Szczesny for not putting a stronger hand to palm the ball away. But take nothing away from the incredibly well-struck freekick from Shaun Maloney. The little playmaker continued to be the creative hub of the away side.
At that time, I feared for the 2nd half. I feared that the longer the game went on and we don’t find the 2nd goal, that heads will drop. However, the fears quickly went away. Not before Szczesny produced a fantastic stop to prevent Wigan from taking the lead. After that though, it was all us as Wigan began to feel the effects of their hard fought win over Manchester City over the weekend. It was obvious that they were tiring and when that happens, concentration goes out of the window.
We still need to capitalise on that and that we did. Santi Cazorla was the star for us yesterday. It was his corner which Podolski headed in and the magical Spaniard supplied 3 more assists in the second half as we romped away to a 4-1 win. The inch perfect cross for Theo Walcott to break his 20 goals barrier, was the pick of the assists. A look back on this season after it all ends and we will all appreciate what a wonderful player Cazorla is and just how crucial he has been to us.
How many tweets, facebook posts or messages have you got about Aaron Ramsey scoring and someone famous dies? It’s getting boring, isn’t it. Yes, he scored yesterday and instead of trying to find which famous person has passed away, I rather focus on the goal. He had Podolski free, with a chance to grab a hattrick but chose to shoot himself. I wonder how the German would react, had Ramsey missed that chance.
Ramsey didn’t and it was just reward for his performance in recent months. The Welsh midfielder has come through a lot this season. Much criticised in the earlier part of the season, despite being judged in an unaccustomed position he was asked to fill, the criticism certainly has died down in recent weeks. The high energy and all action display from Ramsey earns a lot of praise in my books and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t end up as the player to have covered the most ground.
It’s hard to legislate for the freekick goal but apart from that, I thought that once again, our defence did well. The injury to Mikel Arteta is a worry but shouldn’t take anything away from another solid defensive performance from the team. It is also no surprise that Laurent Koscielny once again caught the eye. His high clearance when Szczesny got a rush of blood to the head, the highlight of his performance. Thomas Vermaelen talked in the match programme that he’s looking forward to next season as he wants to reclaimed his spot back but on the evidence of current performance, it will take an injury to either centre backs for that to happen.
So, all focus on Newcastle. They have nothing to play for other than to produce one more good showing for their fans. The fact that we are The Arsenal, is also likely to make them more motivated to play better. On their day, they do have the players who can hurt us. Good job done on the home front, next is the away front.
Now, let’s hope Arteta makes it.