Before delving into the analysis of individual performances, I think it’s safe to say that Wigan were the better side – by far. They didn’t control the game, but they defended brilliantly and countered with great effectiveness. Niall Quinn’s awful commentary made sure we knew Wigan played well – mentioning it every minute or so, because his abilities as a pundit are severely limited.
Arsenal certainly suffered from a bit of complacency. For their first goal, we pushed too many men forward for a corner. Add to that the fact that Arteta was hobbling, and it left us chasing shadows as Wigan attacked with pace. Whether or not Szczesny had his hands on the ball for the second goal is a bit irrelevant, because at that point Wigan deserved their lead. Arsenal came back quickly thanks to a superb Vermaelen header, but chances were rare as the home side dominated possession for the second half of the match.
The result leaves us just five ahead of Spurs having played a match more. However, if we get a positive result against Chelsea on Saturday, it should cement a Champions League spot.
Szczesny 7.5 He was so unlucky for the first goal. He sprinted off his line and almost stopped di Santo from lifting the ball over him. The Wigan forward got lucky as the ball deflected into his path after bouncing off our keeper. The second goal raises some controversy – it seems that Szczesny had his hands on the ball and it was kicked away from him. The rain seemed to have made the ball quite slippery, and I think that Wojciech wasn’t completely in control of the ball. His passing was decent, especially given Wigan’s high pressing.
Sagna 6.5 Not his greatest performance, but he had a very tough time against the pace and strength of Moses. Although Sagna made some great tackles and put in some dangerous crosses, he was often beaten on his wing. Moses’ skill for the second goal was sublime, but Sagna is good enough to make an early challenge to prevent skilful players from getting that kind of space.
Djourou 6 Despite a good game against Wolves, Djourou looked out of sorts against Wigan. His positioning wasn’t great and he was often outmuscled by the away side’s strong forwards.
Vermaelen 7.5 He scored an excellent header and roamed forwards plenty of times in the first half. In the second he almost had a superb opportunity from a van Persie cut-back, but Santos managed to intercept it! Individually he was strong defensively, but our defence was all over the place as a unit.
Santos 5 Not impressed at all. Occasionally he produced a moment of attacking quality, but he also slowed down and ruined plenty of moves with poor crossing or trying to go it alone. In defence, he was out of position every time Wigan created a good chance. That wasn’t a coincidence – he failed to mark the wide man, leaving Martinez’s side with a man over.
Song 6 He didn’t protect the defence too well. You’d expect Song – who isn’t a prolific goalscorer from set pieces – to stay back during a corner. He was quite far up the field and his header was poor. It led to Wigan’s first goal. If he is going to sit in front of the defence (which is a role he does share with the other midfielders now), he needs to do it properly. We can’t have all our midfielders going forward at the same time. He also tried a few ‘Songinho’ lifted through balls, which often didn’t come off. Is he believing his own hype?
Arteta n/a Injured before their first goal and didn’t come off until after the second – we were pretty much playing with ten men during that match-defining spell.
Rosicky 7.5 Lively and always looking to get passed his man. He put in plenty of dangerous crosses, including the one which gave us the lead.
Walcott 4 Poor performance from the winger who has been in decent form since the turn of the year. He was practically anonymous. With his pace, he has to take risks to try to get round his man. If he just continues to pass it back to Sagna, he won’t make any impact.
Benayoun 6 His close control and weaving runs were impressive in the first half, but never quite created a clear-cut chance. He faded in the second period.
van Persie 6 A poor game by our captain’s standards. He was tightly marked and only really managed to get possession when he dropped deep or went wide. He put in a couple of decent crosses when he moved to the flanks, but was generally quite ineffective. He occasionally managed to get a bit of space to receive a lofted pass behind the defence, but failed to make much of it.
Ramsey 6.5 His passing was tidy but he lacked creativity. When he did try something clever, it often failed to come off, such as his attempted flick to Gervinho late in the game.
Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 His direct play was a joy to watch, but sometimes he kept it for a bit too long.
Gervinho 6 He looked to take on the full backs, but often failed to provide the cross at the end of the run. He did put in one fantastic cross, but no one met it.