Archive for December 14th, 2006

Wigan 0 – 1 Arsenal: Cesc wins a game in 15 minutes + Dance Ade, Dance!

69 comments December 14th, 2006

For the first-half of this tricky tie, Arsenal were poor. With an experimental team selection and a few injuries leaving our line-up without Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb, Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry, it was not surprising that our midfield lacked guile and craft. Mathieu Flamini, Julio Baptista, and Gilberto are not what you would call typical Arsenal players – though this was by no means a typical Arsenal performance.

Our defence was looking shakey, and the performance of Jens Lehmann again gave cause for concern – a couple of spilt balls and some dodgy claims on crosses. Emmanuel Eboue too seems to be sufferring with serious concentration lapses, and it will cost us eventually.

In midfield all eyes were on Julio Baptista and Theo Walcott, both getting rare starts. Walcott was bright, and had a great duel with Leighton Baines – one one occasion he attempted to square for Adebayor when a more established player would have shot – but overall I was again impressed. Baptista started dreadfully, lacking the quick feet and finesse to survive in a congested midfield. However, in the second half, a more open game allowed Baptista the space he needs to thrive as an attacking midfielder. There were definite signs of improvement from the Brazilian, who should try and think of 2007 as a fresh start for him.

However, the 74th minute introduction of Cesc Fabregas (and Robin van Persie) is what changed the game. Suddenly Arsenal had a creative hub, and in this last fifteen minutes Cesc provided two unbelievable long-passes for Adebayor. The first one was miscontrolled, the second resulted in the Togolese striker toe-poking the ball beyond the on-rushing Chris Kirkland to continue his rich vein of form.

There’s nothing like a late-winner, and one wonders why Adebayor didn’t choose this opportunity to “show us his moves”:

What we learnt is that without the creative players I named at the top of this article, we’re a bit of a blunt knife. We also learnt that 4-5-1 isn’t always the best option away from home – apart from Cesc coming on, we also switched to a 4-4-2, and that helped prove the difference. Against an attacking side like Wigan, we could’ve exploited the space they left by using an extra forward alongside Adebayor. What was interesting is that Cesc was in such a rush to win the game that he went with a more direct approach, and it paid dividends.

Anyhow, three points is three points, and that’s one down, five to go in our six-game winning run.

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