Arsenal Analysis – Gunners’ midfield shines in three-goal Wigan stroll

ARSENAL 3

van Persie 21, 58, 85

WIGAN ATHLETIC 0

A Robin van Persie hat-trick gave Arsenal a much deserved 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the Emirates yesterday afternoon. The home side dominated the game and kept their Premier League title challenge alive with a magnificent performance.

Arsene Wenger made five changes to the side that beat Leeds 3-1 in the FA Cup on Wednesday as Gael Clichy replaced Kieran Gibbs at left-back, and van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas, and Theo Walcott were all included starting line-up. Denilson, Andrei Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner each took a seat on the bench.

The Gunners started the game comfortably with one touch passes in the Wigan half and pressing high up the pitch to put the back-line under pressure whenever they lost possession. Arsenal’s quick attacks down the flanks through Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott kept the Wigan full-backs Ronnie Stam and Steve Gohouri busy all afternoon.

The opening goal came from some fabulous passing moves from Arsenal around the Wigan box. Alex Song collected the ball and played a perfect through ball for van Persie who slipped in between the Caldwell brothers in the centre of the Wigan defence, beating the offside trap and smashing past Ali Al Habsi.

Walcott should have doubled the Gunners’ lead when he got on the end of a great pass from van Persie to go one-on-one with the keeper. The 21-year-old chose to square it to Fabregas, who lost possession and the danger was cleared by the Wigan defence. Arsenal could have finished the game off by half-time but failure to take advantage of their possession left home fans anxious of a repeat of these sides’ previous meeting.

That anxiety was not eased as the visitors started the second-half brighter than the hosts. Wigan were quick to close the home side down in their own half and dominated possession but they could not break through the solid Arsenal backline which went unchallenged for the remainder of the game.

Wigan’s dominance lasted just five minutes and Arsenal regained control of the game. The North London side retained possession in the middle of the park but struggled to attack with the same pace and ferocity they had in the previous half as Roberto Martinez’s men maintained their shape and forced the Gunners back.

Arshavin’s absence from the starting line-up went unnoticed and when he was introduced in 75minutes he did nothing to suggest he deserved a place on the bench, let alone a start. The 29-year-old’s 15 minute shift was void of both energy and effort as he repeatedly lost possession despite being under very little pressure.

The Russian aside, if the Gunners maintain this level of consistency for the rest of the season then they will be hot on the heels of the two Manchester sides right up to the finish line.

Starting XI

53 Szcesny

3 Sagna – 20 Djourou – 6 Koscielny – 22 Clichy

14 Walcott – 17 Song – 19 Wilshere – 8 Nasri

4 Fabregas

10 van Persie

Substitutions

75 – 23 Arshavin on for 8 Nasri

86 – 15 Denilson on for 4 Fabregas

86 – 29 Chamakh on for 10 van Persie

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