Match report: Exhibit A – The Dutch Master

Arsenal 3-0 Wigan

Habsi days are here again

Ordinarily, the post-match pint is accompanied by a dissection of the things that went to plan and the things that went to pot, but there was a general shoulder-shrugging when mention of pots was brought up yesterday. Can we honestly complain that we missed too many chances, or that Theo should never have passed when one-on-one, or that van Persie’s penalty was a howler of the first order? When your bread is buttered on both sides, you should just eat it. [That one needs work – Ed].

It was a very easy win, but a very impressive one. 10 shots on target to nil? Don’t mind if I do. Szczesny could have been wearing a pink tutu for all we would have noticed. I’m fairly sure he spent some of the game counting Wigan fans. Not sure what he did for the other 89 minutes.

It could have been so much more, had it not been for Al Habsi’s fine goalkeeping. He was like Mr Tickle for much of the first half, but it couldn’t last. Sure enough, the defence was sliced open and van Persie administered the medicine.

The only thing that went near to triggering the collective home angst was the sight of both Nasri and Walcott hobbling about looking worried and clutching various limbs within minutes of each other. It’s a bit early for the first hobbles of spring, but as we all know, at Arsenal nothing stands in the way of our players conking out without so much as a by-your-leave, so it was a relief so see them both recovered before too long.

Expectation of injury is built into our very souls. When van Persie scored his second goal – and what a goal it was – the very first thought that entered my head was not ‘oh, well done’, or ‘crikey, that was a bit special’ but ‘When he did that against Man Utd he broke his foot’. I was genuinely surprised to see him get up and trot off as normal.

Robin Red Best

He is a bit special though. When he returned from injury he a looked a tad slow and a soupcon clumsy, but it’s now clear he was merely waiting for all the lubricant to sink down into the sump [Please check sketchy knowledge of combustion engine – Ed].

Not so clumsy now. He’s absolutely exploded, and his hat-trick yesterday, remarkably his first in England, came right out of the Deadly Finisher’s Guidebook. Number one, a bullet. Number two, an exquisite volley and number three, sensational technique.

We simply have nobody else who is so natural a finisher. Without wishing to disparage any of our other players, I’m not sure there’s another man at the club who could have scored that hat-trick. It was very, very good and his overall game was faultless.

Djou diligence

In the league, there’s no doubt we have tightened up defensively. We’ve not let a league goal in this year. Djourou’s made a difference, in my mind Szczesny too, Clichy’s improved, but a strong defensive shield of Song and Wilshere has helped too. It’s a key improvement all round, but we’re still threadbare at centre-half and I do hope this week sees some movement on that front. As much as I would be excited to see another 17-year-old wonderkid arrive, another centre-back would make me much happier. The more centre-backs in the pantry the better, and can only help retain defensive momentum. How do you keep them all happy? Who cares – it’s a nice problem to have.

Anyway – a lovely day at the office. Now to the Carling in midweek. It’s all go.


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

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jeff

    Nasri’s finishing has been good too, recently, but with Van Persie in form, he’s another level of ruthless.

    My optimism has come flooding back.

    We were at our normal level.

    I love Wilshere.

  2. East Lower

    Wilshere really is the story of the season. Leapt ahead of Diaby and Denilson without breaking sweat. Better vision, works harder, more tenacious. Brilliant debut season.

  3. Gooner in Exile

    You could put Wilshere’s tenaciousness above all our other Centre Mids bar Song.

    You can tell he has grown up in England where big players still rule over skill.

    But under Liam Bradys academy he has clearly learned to fight for the right to play pretty football and not expect to be protected by the refs.

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