Well how about that then folks, eh? As if we weren’t nervous enough, the Jolly Olde Arsenal had to go and leave it a whole half before deciding to kill the game off. Isn’t that just ‘The Arsenal Way’ though? Winning games and finishing off the season early just wouldn’t really be how we do it, would it? No, we have to go and be all like “hey man, last minute points are all the rage. They’re like, totally narly, ‘n stuff”.
And so it came to pass that The Arsenal decided to make their route to (potential) Champions League glory go down to the wire against a quite frankly – and I can say it now the game has ended – poor Wigan side that get exactly what they paid for after only trying for the last ten games or so in the season.
I mean honestly, I don’t want to seem like I’m rubbing salt into the wound here, but you can’t be that poor defensively for most of the season and expect to stay up at the third or forth time of asking. Can you? I couldn’t believe some of the comments I read from neutrals yesterday. How can you say that Wigan are not the third worst team in the league? THEY FINISHED THIRD FROM BOTTOM! I shake my head at the stupidity of some people.
Anyway, that’s enough of talking about opposition, lets talk about The Arsenal. The side that was announced was as we could probably expect given our current form and options with Giroud suspended. The front three of Cazorla, Walcott and Podolski were as good as we could hope for, and the creative influence of Rosicky in midfield was certainly welcome from this observers perspective.
The game started exactly how we would have wanted it to. Similar to the United game, Arsenal bossed the opening exchanges and looked comfortable in possession. I was joined by fellow Suburban Gooner Ben Leeder and all talk pre-game was about how Arsenal would start. Would it be nervy? Would it be swashbuckling? Thankfully it was more of the latter. We zipped the ball around on the sodden Emirate surface with a purpose that showed a belief in our ability. Cazorla looked like his mercurial self and Walcott was clearly up for the game.
But it was the efficient German Lukas Podolski that gave us the perfect tonic for the evening, nodding home a corner whilst essentially unmarked on eleven minutes. Again, I don’t want to seem like I’m kicking a team whilst their down, but the fact that Podolski was inside the box with the easiest of tap in headers, should tell you all you need to know about this Wigan team defensively.
So it was that we continued to dominate the half and create chances on a soaking Tuesday night. Which almost always invariably leads to a goal against the run of play when you’re Arsenal. And it did. Maloney made the most of an opportunity to jump into Arteta to allow ref Mike Dean to award a free-kick, and he dispatched beyond the flailing arms of Szczesny. Personally I thought that the ‘keeper should have done better, but there you go. Half-time, 1-1, the nerves returning to the collective of fans I shared a couple of jars with during the interval.
The second half had a couple of wobbly moments at the beginning, with Szczesny partially making up for his concession of the goal with a tidy save from Kone, but most of the second half was Arsenal and as the time ticked away you could see Wigan had very little left in the tank. The ball from Cazorla to Theo for his goal was sublime, but perhaps it was that fatigue that allowed the Spaniard to find acres of space on the right hand side to put the perfect delivery for Walcott to scramble home. That’s three in three for Theo, and one hopes that he can make it at least four from four on Sunday.
There’s been a lot of talk about Podolski and whether he can play as a central striker, but the fact that he bagged a brace from the central striking position yesterday will have filled many of our hearts with glee. We have undoubtedly missed Giroud’s presence and ability to hold up the ball, but when you have a natural finisher like the German in your team, he’s always going to get you goals. His second of the evening came at a crucial stage in the game for us and effectively sealed our three points for the evening. Ramsey’s strike to make it 4-1 was the icing on the cake, but you could tell the game was over when Lukas bagged his second.
So we are all happy people today. The Fear has subsided for at least another three days and the hopes of Champions League football next season remain firmly within our grasp. On Sunday we’ll have to go again against a Newcastle side that is safe, but has made a habit of frustrating us since they came back into the Premier League three seasons ago, so I don’t think there will be much poultry counting going on in the build up to what will essentially define our season.
What were we all worried about, anyway *runs in corner and hides*?
That’s it from me. You have a good day now. I know I can.