Archive for September 20th, 2009

Arsenal 4 – 0 Wigan: Redemption for Eboue

Add comment September 20th, 2009

Arsenal 4 – 0 Wigan (Vermaelen 25, 47, Eboue 59, Fabregas 90)
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

In this fixture last year, Emmanuel Eboue left the pitch close to tears after a disastrous cameo in which he had managed to tackle members of his own team, repeatedly gift the ball to the opposition, and suffer boos from the majority of his own supporters. Yesterday he left the field to cheers after a storming display in which he even notched the most fortunate of goals.

After playing at right-back in Belgium, Eboue started further forward as part of the front three, where his pace provided a significant threat in the absence of Theo Walcott. His performance wasn’t without blemish – a yellow card for a deliberate handball and one glaring miss come to mind – but he increasingly he is looking like a useful squad member.

Perhaps that’s just it: last season Eboue was starting every game, and thus repeatedly exposing his flaws.  Using him sparingly for tactical reasons, as yesterday, allows his positive qualities emerge.  He’s a player with pace, boundless energy, and good dribbling skills.  He’s not in the same league as the likes of Arshavin, Rosicky, and Nasri, but his idiosyncratic style of play can provide an effective contrast.

Whilst yesterday felt like a significant moment in Eboue’s Arsenal career, his performance was outstripped by that of Thomas Vermaelen, who continues to look like a fantastic signing.  His third and fourth goals for Arsenal gave us our two-goal lead: the first a thumping header from a Van Persie corner, and the second a beautiful curled effort from the edge of the box after a storming run up the field.

Vermaelen offers an attacking threat, especially at set pieces, but even if he didn’t have a goal to his name I’d be raving about his performances: the aggression and leadership he has brought at the heart of the defence is, on admittedly early indications, unlike anything we’ve had since the retirement of Martin Keown.

Then came the third goal – Gael Clichy’s cross from the right (yes, the right) was met with an Eduardo volley that bounced off the near post.  Diaby got a touch to the ball before Eduardo, quickest to react in the box, fired another effort towards the goal.  His effort was on target before it clipped Eboue on its way into the net.  Arsene felt the goal shoudl go to the Croatian:

“Spirit-wise I give it to Eduardo. The shot was on target. If this ball was deflected by a Wigan player would you give it to Eduardo. We had this debate at UEFA. If the shot is on target but is deflected by the defender you give it to the striker. If the ball is missing the target, you give an own goal.”

I would rather give the goal to Eduardo, simply because it’s always good to see strikers on the scoresheet.  However, if you watch the replays back (see link at top of page), Eboue’s deflection takes the ball away from Chris Kirkland in the Wigan goal and a defender on the line, so may have proved crucial – I expect the goal to be registered as belonging to the Ivorian.

One man who couldn’t buy a goal yesterday is Robin van Persie.  One can just start to sense a bit of frustration from the crowd at Robin’s striking rate of just one goal in his first six games.  I suggest we have a bit of patience – once he hits a bit of form the goals will come much easier for him.  In the meantime he’s doing some good work retaining possession by controlling passes that are fired into him from all kinds of angles.

There was even time for a fourth goal at the death.  Substitute Nicklas Bendtner found a bit of space on the right-hand side.  Looking up into the box he saw Cesc Fabregas point and make a run to the near post.  A whipped low cross found the skipper, who tucked in his third of the season.

Worryingly, Cesc had picked up a knock the the knee which prevented him celebrating with much other than a grimace.  Hopefully it’s not too bad and he’ll be available again next week for the game at Fulham.

It wasn’t a perfect performance, with the odd defensive lapse and some occasional midfield sloppiness, but a solid and comfortable victory is just what Dr. Wenger would have ordered after a few controversial weeks.

More thoughts on the weekend tomorrow.  Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

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