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|EPL Special: Arsenal 1-2 Wigan: Five key observations as Wigan move one step closer to safety|
Wigan’s remarkable run continued here at the Emirates. In recent weeks they have come close to beating Chelsea conquered Manchester United and now Arsenal felt the wrath of Matinez’s ever improving side. Wigan clearly wanted this more and although Arsenal dominated possesion when Wigan did get their chances they looked confident and composed, they played with freedom and completely deserved the result.
1). 3-4-3 or 5-4-1.. who cares??? - Since the turn of the year Roberto Martinez has opted to play a very continental 3-4-3 formation, similar to that of Walter Mazzari’s Napoli. This formation seems to suit the Wigan players as they offer everything needed to make tactic’s such as this a success, energy, work-rate, dynamism and recently clinical finishing. My fears before the game were that Wigan would be exposed down the flanks especially on the right with Walcott’s pace however Jean Beausejour provided excellent cover down that side and completely nullified that threat. At times in the game Wigan were camped in their own half with 10 men behind the ball with the wingers dropping in as full-backs and the wide forwards dropping in to midfield. However this didn’t seem to bother the Latics who always looked fairly comfortable with the three central defenders dealing with all but one of Arsenal’s crosses superbly.
2). Wigan’s work ethic - Roberto Martinez has been the subject of some well earned praise for his aforementioned 3-4-3 formation of late however such formation only works if players are willing to be selfless and egos are put to one side. Wigan’s approach to this game was typified by Franco Di Santo. Before the game the Argentinian has been depicted as playing a lone role up front however he seemed to spend much of his time working himself back into midfield position leaving Moses and Gomez as the most advanced players. It is unclear whether this was something Martinez had instructed him to do before the game or whether it was just his desire to win and enthusiasm which meant he found himself in such positions Di Santo wasn’t the only one to impress, every one of Wigan’s players deserve great credit after this fixture, their work-rate and desire to get something out of the game was really something to be admired and although they found themselves under the proverbial cosh at times they still managed to break in numbers and cause the flimsy Arsenal back-four lots of problems.
3). Arsenal ran out of steam - Despite finding themselves two down within eight minutes Arsenal still looked dominant throughout the first-half. The likes of Tomas Rosicky and Robin Van Persie were picking up the ball, all be it in deeper areas, and looking pretty dangerous. Rosicky’s driving runs were causing Wigan players all sorts of problems early on and if it wasn’t for Ali Al-Habsi Arsenal could have had two early goals through Yossi Benayoun. However for sustained periods in the second-half the home side didn’t really provide any major threat and the Wigan defence had a fairly easy time dealing with deep crosses, this improved slightly with the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but Rosiky, Walcott and surprisingly even Robin Van Persie rarely threatened Al-Habsi’s goal late on.
4). Missing link for Arsenal - Arsenal really lacked creativity today, this may have been due to the fact that Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta was forced off early on through injury. Without Arteta the Gunners had nobody who was willing to pick the ball up from the defenders and springboard the attacks. Although the forward players at Arsenal are capable of moments of magic today they really needed somebody to act as a deep lying playmaker that would have taken responsibility away from Van Persie and Rosicky in deep areas and allowed them to showcase their exceptional talents in areas that could have really hurt Wigan.
5). Moving the ball quickly - The contrast in how quickly the two sides shifted the ball forward and in to wide areas today was evident and surprisingly Wigan really showed Arsenal how it should be done. Wigan first goal began from a break down in their left-back area, within seconds Jordi Gomez was switching the ball to right for Di Santo to cap off a wonderful move. Very rarely did we see Arsenal switch the ball from left to right, or vice-versa, with any speed or purpose and this gave the Wigan midfield time to get back in and assume a solid defensive position.
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