Thursday, 30 December 2010

Wenger only has himself, his players and the referee to blame

Arsenal's draw with Wigan is in no way a disaster. But the Gunners should be sitting joint top of the Premier League going into the New Year.

The referee awarded one penalty which wasn't. Whilst a clear handball by a Wigan player from an Arsenal free kick ended up being given as a corner.

Very disappointing. 

There was nothing wrong with the manager's team selection. The changes needed to be made. But I did have early concerns about Nicklas Bendtner and Andrey Arshavin.

They just didn't seem to be getting involved in the game and the service to the wings wasn't particularly good.

But following the withdrawal of Abou Diaby for Jack Wilshere, the Englishman added the required intensity to the Arsenal game which we had so desperately lacked in the opening stages.

Diaby seemed like he was going to have one of those games in which he would slow the play down when a high tempo was necessary.

The first half hour was disappointing. I suppose changing the line up didn't help the cohesion between the players, but they are all experienced and were not assembled just for last night's game. 

And when the referee awarded Wigan a penalty following a Charles N'Zogbia dive over Laurent Koscielny's leg, I was surprised the Gunners responded the way they did. Sometimes it seems we need to go behind in order to come out and play our game. Why can't we play our own game from the start?

Andrey Arshavin's equaliser was a thing of beauty. Nicklas Bendtner's shot was blocked by Al Habsi and rebounded into the path of the Russian who volleyed it home.

Five minutes later we were in the lead. The goal scorer turning provider this time as Arshavin playing Bendtner in. The Dane bussled between two defenders before playing a right footed shot into the far corner under Al Habsi.

Arsenal went into the break ahead and many would have hoped the lessons were learnt from the first half which wouldn't be repeated in the second. We did start more positively and our pressing was much improved 

However our shooting and creating of chances didn't make me feel at ease. Marouane Chamakh had a header which was a yard wide. But very little if anything was created until the introduction of Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri in the last ten minutes after Wigan drew level.

That equaliser came in the 80th minute, with our set piece weakness exposed again. A corner was swung over from the left. It went deep to the far post and over the head of Lukasz Fabianski. The ball was headed back across goal towards Gary Caldwell only for Sebastien Squillaci to head into his own goal.

With Wigan down to ten men following N'Zogbia decision to interface his forehead with Jack Wilshere's face, Arsenal should really have taken advantage.

This is where the manager let himself down. In my opinion he should have changed things around when the sending off happened and put Wigan on the back foot again through the pace of Walcott and guile of Samir Nasri.

Those two changes only happened once the Latics had equalised. And it was only then that we started to create changes again.

But it was all to late. I never thought we would get that late goal we needed to win the game. However one point isn't a disgrace at a ground where we came away last season with our title dreams extinguished.

A win on Saturday is required to ensure we continue our good run of form. Birmingham will be a tough opposition but I'm sure if we play the way we know we can and showed at the Grove on Monday, three points aren't out of the question. We shouldn't be too down hearted because looking at the wider picture we've not lost ground on anyone in the title race. 

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