Arsenal beat Wigan Athletic in DW stadium thanks to a penalty won by Theo Walcott and converted by Mikel Arteta. Not a vintage Arsenal but 3 sweet points to kick start the festive period. So let’s get into the analysis.
With Arsenal playing the same side that scored 5 past Reading last week, one would expect the Gunners to have some sort of confidence at the start. However it was the home side who started out brightly and had good spells of possession but failed to test the goalkeeper. Arsenal had their first chance of the game in the ninth minute when Arteta was allowed an inch gap space to drive forward and the Spaniard played the ball to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right but his shot was well saved at the near post by Ali Al Habsi.
Around the 25th minute, Wigan striker Kone could have put the home side ahead when he broke the offside trap and beat Mertesacker for pace only to miss out on the golden opportunity provided by Di Santo. Arsenal had another half chance again as Cazorla broke forward and passed it to Walcott inside the box but a brilliant block from Boyce denied the striker. As the half time struck both the teams were blank.
As expected it was an open start to the second half and the game looked more promising. Arsenal created two chance in the opening 5 minutes of the half but couldn’t convert it. Wigan’s lack of finishing in front of goal was mainly because the chances they wasted and striker Kone was not comfortable when the ball came in from wide, his positioning let him down more than it favored. There were periods in the game where Roberto Martinez’s men threatened to run away with the game. Around 74th minute the Latics created 3 chance in the space of 4 minutes but they failed miserable in the final third. And it was a nervous 10 minutes at the end of the game.
Tactical Briefing and Stat Attack:
Some quick fire facts:
- 486 – Passes attempted by Wigan
- 480 – Passes attempted by Arsenal (2nd fewest this season in the League, v. Chelsea 470)
- 254 – Passes forward by Arsenal (3rd fewest this season in the League, v. Chelsea 239)
- 123 – Passes attempted by Arsenal in the Wigan final third (2nd fewest total this season in the League, v. Man U 111)
Arsene Wenger continued playing Walcott as a striker with Ox and Podolski in supporting rolls. Though Arsenal have managed to score 6 goals and secure 6 points, is it worth a risk ?
Here is a Walcott watch to get an insight to it:
Now for an out an out striker that he prefers, his heat map does not help his cause. Though the striker has to come back to collect the ball and help his midfielders, his forward runs were not all that good. Tactically he had a quite game apart from the penalty he won and a through ball he chased at the end of the first half thanks to some good work by Cazorla. In a brief it can clearly be said the experiment is clearly not working and Walcott will struggle if not now, but against bigger opponents who will not give space or time to run at them. He did have his moments, but he still needs to work on his ball retention and control with his back to goal and dropping deep to collect the ball and participating in midfield play. Other than his work rate, his shots on target and his pass completion rate is also pretty low as well. 4 shots on goal with 1 on target does not speak volumes.
Cazorla and Wilshere watch:
At the start of the game Wigan dominated the midfield as they played an extra man in the middle and Roberto Martinez assigned McArthur exclusivley to try and stop the hattrick hero Cazorla. The plan was to squeeze out Cazorla and stop Walcott getting behind the defenders waiting for the through ball, may be the reason why Walcott had a quiet game. Coming back to Cazorla, the Spaniard did have a quiet game after an heroic performance against Reading. Made two key passes and did not manage to hit a shot on target (this is the first time that he is missed an attempt on target). If Cazorla was squeezed out, Wilshere was the victim of too many challenges and the boy once again played out his heart and was practically in the middle of everything for the Gunners.
Though Cazorla had a pass completion % of 86, there was only 2 key passes from the Spaniard. And as know half of those passes were back passes and side passes, a day he completely has to forget in terms of individual performance.
Substitutions and Full Time Analysis :
Arsenal used all there substitutes, defensive ones but good ones. Ramsey and Coquelin came in for Ox and Podolski in the space of 5 minutes. Coquelin replaced Podolski and moved into a much deeper role along side Arteta which means Cazorla played on the left until he was replaced by Koscielny in the dying minutes. But to the raise some eyes Wenger brought in Ramsey in place of Alex Oxalde Chamberlain. Though Ox could have finished the game with the same amount of energy that the fresh pair of Ramsey could bring in, the midfielder’s inclusion did slow down the game a little and Ramsey managed to stop Beausejour for the last ten nervous minutes.
One point to be noted by the manager, is when Arsenal go forward their defenders stay high up in the midfield. But when you have a center back (Mertesacker) who can be easily beaten for pace, there must be another defender or a full back covering him, instead Arsenal had both their full backs higher in the field. What Arsenal do is that they bring back midfielders for the covering job which may take up half their work rate. Gibbs especially had a poor game in that aspect as he is not good at tracking back, the space he left behind was easily exploited by the opposition and if it was a better team than Wigan that extra space could cost heavily for the Gunners.
Determination, not tactical understanding by Arsenal. Nonetheless it was a victory and three important points for the Gunners who are back in top 4 after a slip by Tottenham.
|Scorers||Arteta pen 60|
Stats Courtesy: Squawka and Epl Index.