Friday, 2 December 2011

Wigan v Arsenal – Preview

Not a good fixture for Arsenal in recent years, this one – the Gunners only managed to take a point at the DW last season, despite being two goals up with ten minutes to play, while back in 2009/10 we succumbed to a 3-2 defeat. There's no reason, however, why we shouldn't be able to beat Wigan this time out – the Latics had a good result against Sunderland last weekend (which effectively cost Steve Bruce his job) but they have generally been either poor or unlucky in the league to date and currently lie second from bottom, with only two wins so far this season.

Manager Roberto Martinez is hamstrung by a tight budget and a small squad, certainly by Premier League standards. Moreover, with Hugo Rodallega out of form and out of favour they are currently reliant on Franco Di Santo and Conor Sammon up front, and on players like Victor Moses and James McCarthy to pitch in with goals. These players are not without talent though, and in addition Wigan have a pair of useful Spaniards in their line-up in the form of Jordi Gomez and Albert Crusat.

Still, Arsenal have more than enough quality to win tomorrow. In doing so they would extend their unbeaten league run to seven games on the spin, and keep pace with Liverpool and a stuttering Chelsea. The injury situation is unchanged from Tuesday – Diaby and Rosicky are both still out as well as the regular absentees. That probably means the now familiar first eleven of Szczesny, Koscielny (at right back), Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos; the Song-Arteta-Ramsey midfield axis; and Gino, Theo and RvP to complete the attacking positions.

It would be good to see either of the two wide players get on the score-sheet tomorrow, particularly Walcott, who started the season well with a couple of goals but has dropped off a bit since then, although his record of assists for Robin is admittedly very impressive. Arsène has commented:
'I believe that the likes of Gervinho, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott can score goals and I believe they will. They can score goals, I am completely confident of that. And they will score. At the moment Robin is always on the end of things. I think he will continue but I also think it will change that the other players will score goals as well.'
As long as the team is scoring goals I suppose it doesn't do to be picky about who tucks them away – but our apparent reliance on van Persie is a bit worrying. As we saw against Fulham, even RvP can draw a blank occasionally, despite playing superbly, and although Vermaelen came to the rescue to atone for what was a very unlucky own-goal in that match, a similar mistake or piece of ill-fortune allied to a quiet or simply an unlucky day for our number 10 might prove costly.

Corner-kicks in particular are one area in which the Gunners should work harder, both in terms of who gets in the box and in the quality of the delivery. Indeed, in his post-match interview after Tuesday's Carling Cup game, Wenger commented on how poor the majority of our corners were – particularly since it was a City break from an Arsenal corner that led to the decisive goal. However, I don't think this is a problem that is restricted to the second string side – Arsenal corners have been poor generally in all competitions this season. I have lost count of how many times I have seen a delivery from an Arsenal corner-kick fail to bypass even the first man. It's something we really need to work on and hopefully Wenger has now recognised this. Seeing an improvement in this area against Wigan would therefore be very gratifying.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think, Gooners?