van Persie Leads As Arsenal Waltz To Victory Over Wigan
Arsenal 3 – 0 Wigan Athletic
1 – 0 van Persie (21)
2 – 0 van Persie (59)
3 – 0 van Persie (85)
Caldwell Sent Off (70)
Wigan Athletic continued their appalling record at Arsenal, overwhelmed from the kick-off by an Arsenal side determined to continue their title challenge. Robin van Persie grabbed the headlines with a hat-trick but the Dutchman should have joined the exclusive club of players who have scored five goals in a game, denied by the post and an indulgent penalty miss.
van Persie had to settle for the first hat-trick of his Arsenal career, something that is long overdue. The Dutchman was not the only star; there were eleven on the pitch with concentration and application key to a fluid performance.
Arsenal’s passing was crisp and even, few moments of over-intricacy in the area, the majority of chances requiring Al Habsi in the Wigan to produce another good display. The Omani international is keen to add his name to the list of goalkeepers who raise their game when they come to the Emirates.
With Manchester City succumbing at Villa Park, Arsenal established themselves in second place, two points behind Manchester United although that gap will surely increase to five as the game in hand the current leaders have is played at Bloomfield Road this week.
Arsenal started at a terrific pace, one which was maintained for the ninety minutes without ever really extending the hosts. Before ten minutes was passed, Al Habsi had denied Nasri and van Persie with good saves. When the goalkeeper was not involved, his defenders were blocking shots as if their careers depended upon it.
Fabregas was denied on two occasions by Caldwell and Gohouri. Rome’s Spanish Steps may be a much-admired tourist attraction but London yesterday witnessed the footballing equivalent with Cesc back to his best form. Weaving through the Wigan defence, he got to within striking distance before Caldwell Jr sent the ball behind for a corner.
The breakthrough during this procession of missed opportunities. Alex Song observed in a recent interview that he was more confident in attack. His pass to van Persie confirmed that, the Dutchman thumping home his shot.
Cesc would wage his own war on the Wigan goal for the rest of the first half. It was to no avail as Al Habsi made a great save following Sagna’s excellent run and cross whilst defensive interventions once more stopped the Arsenal captain in his tracks.
The second half was more of the same but at a lower tempo. Perhaps minds were straying to midweek; perhaps a more considered approach was needed to ensure that superiority turned to goals.
Nasri and Walcott both teased early in the half before van Persie struck once more. Cesc placed a sumptuous pass into the Dutchman’s path, his volleyed finish giving the Spaniard’s efforts their deserved reward. The platform for a larger victory was now complete.
Ten minutes later, it seemed that the first van Persie Arsenal treble would be completed. Fabregas burst into the area, latching onto Song’s pass. As Al Habsi advanced, Caldwell Sr closed on the Arsenal captain and hauled him to the floor. The penalty and subsequent red card were easy decisions for the referee to make.
This is Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal though, nothing which can be easy is made so, van Persie hoisted his penalty into the stands as his manager buried his head in his hands. The Dutchman was given chance to make amends soon afterwards, his curled effort struck the outside of the post having evaded the outstretched limbs of Al Habsi. van Persie, it seemed, was as fond of doubles as his English predecessors.
His luck changed with five minutes to go. Theo Walcott provided cover as a human shield in the penalty area, delayed and then deferred to van Persie. This time the Dutchman did not disappoint, the finish emphatic.
It was the expected victory over a struggling side. Tinged with some disappointment that only three goals were registered, the performance deserved more, especially in the first half. However, three points was the more immediate concern with goal difference not materially affected despite Birmingham’s capitulation at Old Trafford.