A week may be a long time in politics, but it’s just enough time to rest up properly for a football match. After looking lethargic and sluggish against Fulham on the back of a testing Champions League game 72 hours earlier, Arsene’s first team were back in action today. With the ‘reserves’ failing gallantly against Manchester City in midweek as van Persie and co watched from the stands, you could see the good a week off has done as the Gunners turned in a vibrant display of attacking football that Wigan just couldn’t live with.
It didn’t start off that way though as the hosts — buoyed by their win at Sunderland last weekend — began confidently and Jordi Gomez missed a golden chance to give Roberto Martinez’s side a shock lead. Andre Santos did well to deflect his close range effort away for a corner when a goal looked certain.
Immediately we went up the other end and Ramsey mis-controlled a difficult ball in a good position and the tone looked set for a ding-dong game of open football. And it was pretty even, with Arsenal just having the upper hand, as we approached the half hour mark. Then the game swung our way as two goals in two minutes knocked the stuffing out of Wigan.
First Arteta was allowed too much space as he advanced towards goal, accepting the invitation to shoot from outside the box. It was well struck but Al-Habsi will be disappointed that he forgot to close his hands as the Spaniard’s shot fizzed between them and hit the net. Moments later van Persie’s corner found its way to Vermaelen at the back stick and he nodded in at the near post to give us a comfortable lead.
BOOM! Arteta's powerful shot gives us the lead
The boys were buzzing by now and we should have had another soon after when van Persie’s snap shot was parried by Al-Habsi, but it remained 2-0 at the break.
We’d blown two goal leads in both our last two visits to the DW Stadium, but there was never any real danger of that happening again, especially as Flappyanski was on the bench (I’d nail his arse to it if I could). In fact Wigan didn’t trouble us at all in the second period as it became a case of how many did we want.
Encouragingly we had the appetite for more goals and continued to pile forward. First Ramsey was denied a stonewall penalty when he was clearly tugged back in the area, before Gervinho tapped in the killer third after sublime skill from Captain Fantastic saw his shot parried to the Ivorian by the hapless Al-Habsi.
Arteta struck another shot just wide and van Persie was off target from eight yards with only the keeper to beat as we continued to spurn chances. Finally, Walcott got to the byline and pulled the ball back for van Persie to slot home his 463rd goal of the calendar year.
Wenger had the luxury of replacing Song, Walcott and Gervniho for the last 10 minutes with Coquelin, Arshavin and Benayoun. The latter was soon clear on the advancing Al-Habsi, but his attempted lob lacked pace and was cleared by a covering defender.
No matter, a 4-0 win away from home is a great result and lifts us above Alan ‘Smug Git’ Pardew’s mob into fifth place. It was good to see Coquelin given a Premiership run out, even if only for a few minutes. It looks like he’s pulled ahead of Frimpong and Eastmond in the race to be Song’s deputy and I look forward to seeing him again against Olympiacos on Tuesday in what I suspect will be a similar line-up to the one that took on Man City.
Which means the ‘First XI’ will get another week’s rest and hopefully we can look forward to a similar performance against the much bigger challenge of Everton next Saturday. If we play like that again, I’m confident we can bag another three points to continue our excellent recent form and inch ourselves nearer the top four.
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