Today’s game was a frustrating one. We were extremely poor, to say the least, in the first half. We just didn’t get into the game at all. Gibbs was given a bit of a rough ride in the opening half hour. The goal, when it came, was a fairly soft one for us to concede and Fabianski will be annoyed with himself that he didn’t get enough on the ball to turn it around his left post rather than into the left corner.
Things went from bad to worse when our injury crisis was heightened after the half-hour mark when Djourou collapsed in the box and it looked like his left knee just gave way and he fell in a heap. That was his final contribution to the game. Let’s hope that it isn’t anything serious as we are now down to the barest of bare bones in defence. Silvestre came on to replace him and he had one of our best chances of the half soon afterwards. He really ought to have done better with it. The other good chance we had came when Gibbs crossed into the box and Bendtner rose unmarked but couldn’t get his header on target.
Right at the end of the first half, in the fourth minute of injury time, Valencia was put through on goal and Gibbs hauled him down just outside the box. He was really lucky to get away with just a yellow card for the foul as the referee obviously deemed that Silvestre was covering him and that he wasn’t the last man back. Personally, I feel that Silvestre wouldn’t have been able to get back to make a challenge and that Gibbs should have gone. Luckily the referee was unusually lenient and the resultant free-kick hit the inside of the left-hand post and bounced clear. A very, very lucky escape. Overall, a truly woeful first half from The Arsenal.
In the 51st minute we did some Keystone cops defending of a simple high ball which the defence allowed to bounce, then an onrushing Fabianski got nowhere near it and it took a goal-line clearance by Gibbs to stop Mido’s header going in. Yet again, really poor stuff by Arsenal. You got the feeling that this game just wasn’t going to go our way and, to be honest, the way we played for the first fifty-one minutes we didn’t deserve to take anything from the game.
The goal for us came totally against the run of play, a goal out of nothing. Bendtner flicked the ball on to Walcott, who somehow managed to play it to Arshavin (accidental or not), Arshavin couldn’t keep his balance and as he fell he managed to get the ball to Walcott who tucked it into the bottom right corner of the net. Against all odds, we were back in the game.
Van Persie replaced Denilson in the 63rd minute to give us a bit more attacking impetus and to try and take advantage of our somehow getting ourselves back into the game. Adebayor then replaced Walcott in the 68th minute. Personally I would have taken Bendtner off instead, but maybe Arsene wanted to save Walcott for the second leg of the Villarreal game.
Michael Brown needless gave away a free-kick outside the box for a foul on Cesc in the 71st minute and from the resulting free-kick Cesc made himself some space, received the ball and slid it into the six yard box where Silvestre stuck it in the back of the net. Unbelievable. We had somehow managed to come from a goal down to lead two-one and hadn’t played at close to anything that you could describe as good. The goal definitely lifted us though, as you would expect and Arshavin was unlucky not to get on the score sheet when his 77th minute shot hit the inside of the left post and came back out to Van Persie who put the ball in the back of the net, but he was in an offside position and the goal was disallowed.
I must say that Adebayor did very well when he came on. He had some great touches and it looks like he is a changed man since getting his three goals after his injury comeback. Long may it continue. Van Persie gave away a silly free-kick just outside the box for a foul on Valencia in the 83rd minute, for which he picked up a yellow card. The resulting free-kick was easily saved by Fabianski.
Our third goal, I know I couldn’t believe it either, came after a Wigan free-kick was cleared to Adebayor who played a poor ball to Van Persie that was intercepted by Koumas. However, having made the interception he then went to sleep and played the ball straight to Arshavin who smashed the ball home from around the edge of the box.
Our FOURTH goal, if there was a word for super, super, ridiculously unbelievable I would use it now, came after a marauding run by Song into the box and he finished it with aplomb. Final score, Wigan 1 – 4 Arsenal, the most unlikely of score-lines that you will see for a long time.
For two thirds of the game we were simply woeful, there’s no other way to put it. For the final third we played with confidence going forward and looked dangerous as Wigan had visibly tired. We got the three points we needed, but we will need to play much better in our next two games, against Villarreal and Chelsea, in order to avert a trouncing.
That’ll do for now. Time for bed. More reaction tomorrow.