English Premier League 2007-2008: Arsenal 2 – Wigan 0

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
November 24th, 2007 • 6:15 pm

Now this is definitely the type of game that would have ended in a 0 – 0 draw last year. Instead, we now seem to have the resources and the patience to eventually break the deadlock.

There was probably a case of international week hangover, and the number of key players (Fábregas, Hleb, Flamini, etc.) missing was a bit of a concern. Also, the Wigan players obviously wanted to impress their new boss watching from the stands. And they had a pretty decent game last year at the Emirates, with some controversial refereeing decisions going the Gunners’ way. So the game was probably trickier than it looked on paper.

William Gallas was the catalyst this time. He’s undoubtedly a controversial figure, even among Arsenal fans, but he’s starting to show the real leadership qualities that are required to turn losses into draws and draws into wins. I mean, he wasn’t just the scorer. He was actually also part of the build-up and he just kept on like a real additional striker, which in this case seemed to be required to finally overwhelm the dogged Wigan defense.

It’s of course risky to go forward like this and leave the team exposed in the back, but with the end of the game quickly approaching, taking risks is required and it’s great to have a captain who leads by example.

So what could have been a frustrating return to Premiership action had a pretty happy conclusion for the Gunners, which the second goal probably unavoidable as it was now Wigan’s turn to take real risks and try to snatch an equalizer.

The conclusion was made even happier by the fact that Manchester United lost at Bolton, somewhat unexpectedly—although even the best teams have off days and it was close to being an off day for Arsenal as well.

So now the Gunners are 3 points ahead with a game in hand. Sweet. Unfortunately boring boring Chelsea and boring boring boring Liverpool are keeping pace, so Arsenal cannot afford to drop their concentration levels. It’s going to be a busy end of the year.

Next up is a trip to Sevilla for the 4th Champions’ League game. Qualification was already achieved in the previous round, albeit with a rather unconvincing 0 – 0 draw in Prague. Sevilla are the other favourites to go through, and it’s now a battle for the top position in the group. It’s definitely within the Gunners’ reach and will be pretty much guaranteed if they can get a result in Spain. Sevilla have just lost their coach and had an iffy start of their domestic season, but they still have a number of quality players and they will definitely want to atone for their performance in the corresponding fixture at the Emirates. So it’s likely to be a tight one, but Fábregas will be back, and the Gunners are on a roll. It would be nice to at least extend the unbeaten run.

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