In Arsene we (still) trust.

Oliver Shorts, also keeping the faith.

It’s 1.30am and I’ve just got back from driving 400 miles up north to watch Arsenal draw 2-2 with Wigan. On that note, thanks to Oli and Ricky for another entertaining journey up north, it’s what part of the day is all about.

As the team news trickled in, I can’t deny that like most of the travelling support, I was a little surprised to initially hear of the eight changes Wenger was making to a team that had convincingly beaten Chelsea on Monday evening. Some were suggesting it was showing disrespect to Wigan, that Wenger believed this game would be a rollover.

Let’s start with that final suggestion. Wenger clearly knows that we don’t just turn up and win at places like Wigan, so he must have genuinely believed that the team was good enough to win. I also believed it was – the quality of players on show was still superior to Wigan. Added to this, we play Birmingham at the weekend, a fixture we have found notoriously difficult in recent years.

Wenger would also have seen how sharp or otherwise the players were given the extreme efforts they went through on Monday evening. By the end of the game several of the players seemed shattered, so the idea that the same eleven would walk out seemed unlikely. Yes, Manchester United made just one change in their game yesterday at St Andrews, but when did they look at their most vulnerable? The final ten minutes against a Birmingham side who hadn’t played in two weeks. Sure, a bit of luck was involved, but Birmingham found that equaliser that as Arsenal fans we all cheered so loudly on Tuesday night.

Fabregas was suspended so that was an enforced change in the middle. Diaby needed a game and was an obvious replacement, Arshavin has been far more useful on his travels of late (Aston Villa most recently) and he remains a player that can change a game in an instant. I’m still a fan. Nicky Bendtner in was due a game and Van Persie was never going to do two in 48 hours.

Eboue deserves a game if only for being the best cheer leader we’ve ever had whilst Squillaci coming in for Djorou wasn’t a big shock. Perhaps the omission of Walcott remains a bit confusing, given he was so full of life against Chelsea but Nasri was clearly in need of a rest having spent much of the Chelsea game on Monday night uninvolved.

So that’s the line-up dealt with. Yes, frustrating not to see our best eleven, but it’s a busy Christmas schedule, we’re fighting on all fronts, let’s not complain.

The ground got slightly busier at kick off.

The game itself doesn’t need too much explanation. We weren’t very good until we scored and having led 2-1 at half time it would have been natural to think we were going to go on the offensive looking for a third. Bar a single chance for Arshavin we didn’t really offer much and when yet another ball was pumped into our box, our goalkeeper came, decided he wasn’t going to get it and went back too slowly to the centre of his goal. It didn’t help that Squillaci was on the wrong side of Caldwell either leaving him little option but to attack the ball hoping to put it over.

So a 2-2 draw away at Wigan. We got what we deserved and it’s hard to get too upset when that’s the case even if I disagree with Wenger when he suggests that we had a “good game”.

Yes, frustrating because it was a chance to gain ground on Manchester United, but it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t warrant some of the overly negative Wenger comments claiming the man is clueless. Remember where we were before him, remember what we now take for granted.

There’s a long way to go, it’s our home form that needs to be impeccable from now on, a few draws on the road remains inevitable, but I’ll keep the faith.

To Birmingham we go.

Match highlights:

4 Responses to “In Arsene we (still) trust.”
  1. Ricky says:

    Spot on. Justified his team selection perfectly. After watching the highlights, it was infuriating that the idiot commentator didn’t even mention that N’Zogbia dived nor did they mention it in the studio. We also had a blatant penalty for handball with almost the last kick of the game turned down. All things considered though, it wasn’t a bad day.

  2. Adam says:

    Broadly agree with you, although the point about the team selection should probably be tempered with the realisation that while Bendtner needs games, he seemed pretty tired after 70 minutes.

    It was because Wenger waited so long to make his substitutions – and that we needed a goal – that the effective Wilshere had to be replaced, rather than Bendtner. I’m not saying the changes to the team were wrong, or even misguided, but I thought he could have done more in the midst of the match to change things.

    Hey ho, our away form has actually been pretty good this year – and it’s good to get the 2-2 draw with dodgy opposition penalty and no penalty for us out of the way, before we go to St Andrews…

    • joshlandy says:

      About Nicky B… actually think out of the front two, Chamakh looked far more tired. Wasn’t his best night. I suspect Wenger thought we’d hold out and give them both the game team whilst leaving the others (Nasri, Walcott) completely untouched ahead of Birmingham.

      Indeed the away form is good, we’ve only lost at Chelsea and United and if we can beat United at home like we did with Chelsea then it won’t be such a problem.

      Hope you’re good. x

      • Adam says:

        Hmm, I think you’ve got a point there about Chamakh – I just found it more noticeable with Bendtner because he was stood on the wing not running and looked more isolated/tired/lacking in work rate than Chamakh.

        (Indeed I am well, you were only a couple of *people* to my left last night – at least I think you were, row K? – and I was going to come and say hello at half time but instead I queued for a drink I didn’t manage to get…)

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