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Arsenal vs. Wigan Athletic Highlights – Gallas to the rescue

Posted by Arsenalist on November 24, 2007

The Arsenal 2, Wigan 0

With more than half our first-choice midfield (Fabregas, Hleb, Flamini) out due to injury or suspension, Arsenal struggle against a defensive minded Wigan squad that showed resistance through harsh tackling and packing the midfield at times with six men. All for naught though, Bakari Sagna’s cross found William Gallas’ run for the breakthrough. Manchester United lose to Bolton (thanks Nick) so Arsenal are 3 points clear at the top of the table and with a game in hand.

It looked at times that we were destined for a scoreless draw with Denilson being unable to replicate Fabregas’ vision and Lasanna Diarra rarely going forward with any real intention. Rosicky and Walcott were the only apparent threats for the better part of the game, the latter had to be stretchered off after an Emile Heskey challenge from the back that must’ve felt like an earthquake. The sheer height/weight difference between the two was probably enough to see that Walcott had no further part in the game. Yellow cards all around for everybody including Gallas who felt the need to speak up given the hostile nature of the tackle.

How many times have long-balls to Adebayor been successful? I can’t think of one this season so it perturbs me that we continue to look for him in a 4-5-1 setup through long passes that even if he does control, can do little with. I know it’s almost become fashionable to rip on Adebayor but at times he makes it a little too easy to do so. He should’ve scored early in the game after finding himself with enough time and space from 10 yards out, but as expected he delivered a weak shot that the goalie had no trouble saving prompting me to wonder what Eduardo would’ve done with the same opportunity. It’s also apparent that Adebayor’s greatest strength appears to be as a holding forward who can win those balls in the corner and contest for headers, but his suitability as a sniper has always been questionable. It’s also a bit odd that Wenger continues to play the 4-5-1 with a player of Eduardo’s caliber on the bench. Hard to complain however when you’re top of the table. The MOTM has to be our fiery captain William Gallas who’s initial pass that setup Sagna’s cross followed by his determined run for the goal saved Arsenal. Rosicky’s goal was a result of Wigan coming forward leaving them vulnerable at the back. I also enjoyed Galls giving the referee an earful after every debatable call, especially the Heskey foul. The captain fired the Gunners up at just the right time. Arsene Wenger praised Gallas and the team’s ability to generate goals in tough circumstances:

‘He is a forgotten centre-forward because he knows where to be in the box and he can always turn up with a goal when you need it. Once again we found the resources to win the game. It is not the first time, so I do not feel it is a coincidence.’

Eduardo and Bendtner’s introduction seemed to inject some much needed pace up front and although neither had much to do with the Gallas goal, the Wigan defense appeared more stretched when the two were in the game. Theo Walcott’s pace was causing great concern for Wigan and at times looked to be our only chance of unlocking a Wigan defense that was playing for a manager in the stands. A lesson to be learned here is the relative success that Wigan had pressuring our midfield and forwards, not allowing us to play the one-two-touch football that we like to play, then again, we had our Carling Cup squad out there. Robin van Persie is being greatly missed on set-plays, especially freekicks, we didn’t have a single threatening freekick all afternoon with Denlison resorting to chipping the ball in hoping for a header – RVP’s return is the event I’m looking most forward to this season.

The Gunners are cruising, up next is a Champions League clash against Sevilla in southern Spain which if we win, will seal first place in the group allowing our first team to take a break on Matchday 6.

Check out the post-game reaction from the two managers and also the match report. Make sure to subscribe to the Arsenal feed for highlights and other Arsenal goodies.

Gallas 1-0 ’83: Download

Rosicky 2-0 ’85: Download

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