Lucky, lucky Arsenal’s late, late show

One of these days we’re going to concede first at home and not come back to draw or win; but for now lady luck is still shining upon is.

Had we lost yesterday we could have had no complaints. As has been the case in far too many league games this season – both at home and away – despite a bright opening 20 minutes we didn’t crank up the real pressure until the second half. Even then, though we created chances, we didn’t really test their keeper at all.

Credit to Wigan though – they came at us in a refreshingly attacking way and created bags of good chances. They certainly didn’t look like a team struggling in the depths of the league.

With ten minutes to play I was resigned to defeat. That we won is down to some late determined assaults and a dollop of luck (or as Wigan’s boss put it, “a catalogue of mistakes” from the referee).

There were some good performances – Clichy was outstanding and Rosicky was not far behind, but for me, in a way that mirrored the game, there were too many half-and-half displays. Henry, Baptista, Hoyte, Walcott – each had some good moments but at times they struggled too.

Nevertheless, they can’t all play wonderfully all the time and what we did show was we don’t take defeat lightly, we fought to the last (something that has earned us loads of points this season), and we moved back into fourth with a game in hand that could take us third.

It’s what Wenger calls our “great character and resilience”, which is either a euphemism for a near-miss performance or a genuine accolade.

As for a game that merited six Arsenal yellow cards – I think not. Henry’s giving of the ball to Kirkland when we equalised was ungracious but came from the keeper’s persistent timewasting, which went unpunished. When Jens did a similar, albeit more obvious bit of timewasting at the other end, he got yellowed.

So a good result, and it’s onto our favourite northern town on Wednesday night for our FA Cup fourth round replay. We’ll need to play better than we did yesterday.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.