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Wigan 2-2 Arsenal: Broken team Gets Broken Result

1-0 Watson 17' (pen)

1-1 Arshavin 38'

1-2 Bendtner 43'

2-2 Squillaci (OG) 80'

Two days after beating Chelsea, an away trip to 18th placed Wigan always meant changes, but Arsene Wenger made eight changes, and in the end familiar defensive failings meant more dropped points for Arsenal as they failed to take advantage of a slip up by Manchester United. 

Arsenal started off extremely poorly, and unsurprisingly, the makeshift team lacked cohesion when passing the ball. Squillaci and Koscielny made errors that fortunately for them, were not costly. A Wigan counter attack saw Charles N'Zogbia outpace the Arsenal midfield after a corner kick, and he won a penalty that seemed outside of the box and had minimal contact. Ben Watson put the penalty away, and although it was won by deceitful ways, it was a deserved Wigan lead. Arsenal continued to play poorly, and Denilson cleared off the line before Koscielny almost equalised with a rebound. Arsenal still looked poor though, but an injury sustained by Abou Diaby and his subsequent replacement by Jack Wilshere saw Arsenal take control of the midfield, and added some needed cohesion and also allowed Rosicky to get forward more. Good interplay between Chamakh and Bendtner saw the latter's shot blocked before Andrey Arshavin hit a spectacular volley to get Arsenal level. Arshavin then assisted for Bendtner to put Arsenal in the lead, but it was great strength by Bendtner to finish the goal after a good run from the Russian. Unfortunately, those 10 minutes were all that Arshavin contributed mean fully, and he should've been substituted. 


Arsenal's play was very narrow today, and that came from playing Nicklas Bendtner on the right, and two right footers on the left. Obviously Kieran Gibbs was unavailable for Arsenal, but perhaps Carlos Vela should've started or been subbed on to give Arsenal width on the left hand side. As the following chalkboard shows, almost none of Arsenal's build up play came on the left hand side, and, without the penetrative passing of Cesc Fabregas or penetrating runs of Samir Nasri,  that made it very easy for Wigan to defend; apart from the two goals that were scored, Arsenal created very little. 


 by Guardian Chalkboards

Arsenal seemed to slow down in the second half, and although Wigan had some of the ball, they also created very little, with their biggest threats coming from N'Zogbia. They were, however, getting more dangerous, and changes should've been made with defensively weak players Arshavin, Bendtner and Eboue on the flanks. Certainly, a change of Clichy for Arshavin, putting Eboue on the right, and Nasri for either Bendtner or Chamakh would've strengthened the team defensively, and maybe he even should've  added a fifth defender, Johan Djourou, to secure 3 points. In the end though, he didn't, and although N'Zogbia, Wigan's biggest threat, was sent off for headbutting Wilshere, Wigan still went forward and eventually got their reward. A corner was conceded after poor defensive play from Arshavin, and the ensuing corner was deep, leading to Fabianski chase after it, and once Rodallega headed back across the penalty area, there was little Squillaci could do, and he headed it into Arsenal's goal. 

Too late Wenger threw on Walcott and Nasri, and although the two subs had legitimate penalty shouts, with Nasri's free kick being handballed, Arsenal could not find a way through the 10 men of Wigan, and again dropped late points at the DW Stadium. Although he may justly blame the referee for not giving Arsenal a penalty and being conned by Charles N'Zogbia, Wenger made bad decisions today. Playing two target men was always going to make the team broken, and leaving Arshavin on was foolish, given his defensive track record. 

Afterwards, the manager said on BBC's Match of the Day

"I'm frustrated because it looks like nobody takes resposibility for our organisation on corners."

Is that not what you work out in training, and the goalkeeper's responsibility? If Fabianski is not taking charge at corners, maybe it's time for Szczesny, who is known for his organising abilities, to become number one. Otherwise, Arsenal's vulnerability at set pieces will continue.