Match Reaction: Arsenal 1-0 Wigan
By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. Emmanuel (BUTTA’) Adebayor: Showed great hustle all match. He was a constant threat and a serious handful for the Wigan defenders who struggled mightily to control Butta’s pace, strength and vertical leap. The first goal showed the maturation in his game as he showed great oportunistic poaching skills and a composed (heads-up) clinical finish.
Love to see Butta’ staying switched on in the attacking 1/3 of the pitch.
He was great in the air and delivered several well placed knockdowns for Robin to latch onto and coupled with his passing to RVP, it demonstrated a serious development in the chemistry between the two strikers!.
Butta’ was very unlucky late in the first half when Kirkland got a fingernail on his low drive and turned it onto the far post. Great game for Butta’ considering he is just getting back from injury. The goal will do his confidence a world of good.
#2. Robin Van Persie: Other than finding the back of the net…this was a complete game for the Dutchman. He showed great passing fluency with Butta’, Eboue and Cesc and made countless runs for his teammates to pick him out or to bleed off defenders and open up space for our midfielders and wingers.
I was especially please with Robin’s hard work on the defesive side of the ball as i watched him repeatedly tracking back hard to harry the Wigan ball carriers and/or to pick up the trailers.
He was snatching a bit with his shots but the fact he was working himself into open space and the channels to recieve service (rather than standing static on the edge of the 18 yard box) was a major positive Robin can take from the match.
Finally, his crosses had good weight and snap to them…Wigan were lucky and Sagna and Butta’ were unlucky not to have found the back of the net.
#3. Kolo Toure: His injury time-off and benchings served him well as he look very spry out there and extremely focused on his defensive duties. Kolo delivered an intelligent and strong physical display of defence today. Several times he covered off his fellow defenders as he used his speed and strength to close down and choke off Wigan attacks.
Kolo also tossed in several surging runs and his distribution of the ball was stellar. I don’t think he put a foot wrong all match…impressive for a player who has been out of the starting XI for the last 3 weeks.
#1. Cesc Fabregas: Had a relatively quiet game by his lofty standards, however he did deliver the tipped pass that sprung Butta’ to slot home the winner and he delivered to 2 nicely weighted passes to Robin in the channel that went begging for a proper finish. I thought Cesc’s game grew in stature and effectiveness in the last 20 minutes as he began to call more and more for the ball from his teammates, so he could safely run down the clock. Cesc also hustled on the defensive side of the ball and didn’t show the signs of fatigue he demonstrated against Man Utd. Like Robin his name doesn’t find the score sheet but his game was vital to The Arsenal’s success.
#2. Emmanuel Eboue: His return match after 5 weeks on the sidelines came alot earlier than expected with the Nasri injury…but Eboue showed good composure and focus (for his first 50 minutes) despite the lay-off and playing on the left wing. His slick one-touches and cheeky back heels released Robin, Cesc, Butta’ and Denilson, on numerous occasions, to run onto the ball with time and space. Eboue’s passing reminded me of the glory days when we crushed teams on with our one-touch footie that sprang lethal counter-attacks. While his passing went for a shjiit in the last 5 minutes as his brain began to fade as a result of exhaustion, it can’t take away from his earlier body of work and the hustling back tracking he did on defense. Well done Eboue…great to have you back!
#3 Denilson: Been hard on him the last two Prem League matches so it was time to throw him a bone after he turned in a very industrious match. Showed me alot more hustle and willingness to get stuck in tonight. His passing was alot better as he worked quick 1-2’s (pass and move) all match with Cesc, Sagna, Robin etc.
Very tough luck not to have potted a second goal for The Arsenal during the second half as he rang it off the post past a clearly beaten Kirkland.
Denilson seems to be more comfortable starting on the wing…he gets more time on the ball and can use his guile to sneak up on and past defenders.
Alexandre Song & Johan Djourou: These guys were both repeatedly guilty of ball watching, poor positioning and being slow to react to the ball and game situations.
I was particularily disappointed with Song who looked clumsy and slow to distribute the ball. He has had enough starts this year at CDM that these types of mistakes shouldn’t be occurring game in and game out with him.
Djourou was caught out of position several times and needed interventions from his fellow Back 4 to cover his ahzz. He is still cutting his teeth this season as a starter with The Arsenal so i cut him more slack on his mistakes.
While I would have liked to have seen 3+ goals banged home…i can live with the fact we didn’t…because we showed a great spirit and creativity tonight as the players continued to fight for that second goal. Some unlucky breaks kept the game alot closer than it actually was in reality.
The plethora of scoring opportunities speaks to the fact The Arsenal have gotten back in touch with their free-wheeling and attacking spirit.
The Wigan match was massive because it was critical for the squad’s fragile psyche that we keep “winning the matches we should win”. And it was important to build on the Chelsea victory and re-acquire the swagger (ahead of the Liverpool match) in our squad that has been missing all this season.
Things are beginning to look brighter again at The Emirates…feels like we’ve weathered our storm.
With many bodies coming back into the team and the January transfer window 4 weeks away…December is the month for us to make some noise and claw our way back up the Prem League table.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT