The Gunners moved into third place with a hard fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic, and Arsene Wenger has urged his side to keep pushing forward after their third successive Premier League victory.
It took a quick fire one-two between Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla that brought the Englishman tearing into the Wigan box, only to be felled by the Latics own version of Andre Santos – Jean Beausejour. Mikel Arteta made no mistake from the spot.
It certainly was not vintage Arsenal passing-wise, with Wigan closing down the midfield well and were constantly on Wilshere’s case. They were almost rewarded too for their tenacity with two solid penalty shouts from handballs. Although Wenger missed the incident with Kieran Gibbs, he believes the one involving his captain did certainly not warrant a penalty.
The result leaves Arsenal in third on goal difference – tied with the Spuds, Everton and West Brom on 30 points and Wenger has urged his side to continue their fine form and work positively together as his side next welcome Newcastle to the Emirates after Boxing Day’s postponed fixture.
Here are Wenger’s post-match thoughts on Arsenal’s official website:
[on a tough game] It was a very different game [from Reading]. They stopped us from playing and they did that very well – especially in the middle of the park. We didn’t find the same fluency going forward. It was much more a win because we really wanted a result more than because we dominated the game. We had chances, but, especially in the final part of the game [it] was difficult to come out at the back and master possession. They had a lot of possession in the end but we really wanted it. It’s good because [we showed] more determination than domination in the final part of the game.
[on Wigan’s penalty appeals] I’ve just seen it [the appeal for handball against Vermaelen]. That is not a penalty. I haven’t seen the appeal against Gibbs. I have just seen Vermaelen [and] that is not a penalty. Honestly, the ball comes like that on the arm – you have to raise your hand. The Gibbs [incident] I didn’t see.
[on three League wins in a row] It’s good but not enough. We want more. I hope that gives us a bit more belief and confidence and that we can play with a much more positive environment. We had to show nerve and we did it. Overall, it gives us a week to prepare [for] the next game and hopefully at home we can continue to win our games. Away from home, our record is quite good. We have only lost two games – at Man United and Norwich – since the beginning of the season. It’s an important part of the season now.
[on if the players will be off on Christmas day] Yes certainly.
[on if it’s better to have the time off] I would prefer to play. When the team is on a roll, you want them to go out and play. Physically, it was a difficult game for us. Maybe we need a little breather because we played two hours at Bradford and then at Reading, and today [was another] physical game on a very heavy pitch.
[on Walcott playing centrally] I wouldn’t like to judge him on one game. For me he has the ingredients to play there. I wouldn’t like to judge him on one game. He did not have much service today, he was a bit isolated. He can always be decisive, even if he does not have the greatest service. Today he made the decision because he got the penalty.
Walcott certainly struggled with his back to goal for majority of the fixture, preferring to be played in behind the strikers and was often dominated when he came back looking for the ball especially in the air – this is what he needs to improve.
Otherwise though his movement was decent and he won the penalty that decided the match, overall not a terrible performance but no doubt he will have wanted to make more of an impression.
Ramsey’s substitution for the very effective Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly raised a few eyebrows, but the England international seemed tired and Ramsey helped to slow the ball down with the Gunners one-nil to the good.
Wenger has to stick with the winning team selection when Newcastle visit, it seems Gervinho may struggle to play for Arsenal for some time now after being unused for consecutive matches and with his departure for the African Nations Cup drawing closer and closer.
The players can take pride in the 1-0 score line as it is important to hold onto narrow victories. Arsenal seem to have that on lock down of late (touchwood) as they have developed a knack for not conceding late goals this season – something that is very beneficial for grinding out wins.
What are your thoughts on the match? Feel free to comment below.