Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wigan and Birmingham: omens for 2010 and 2011?

Wigan 2 Arsenal 2
Birmingham 0 Arsenal 3


Work, a busy life, and actually having to travel too and from two away games prevented me from having a chance to write about either of these games in any depth until now.

A couple of points I would make nonetheless about the Wigan match:

- In a sense, we were lucky to play Wigan before Birmingham. The match contained an opposition player sent off for an assault on an Arsenal player, the opposition benefiting from a penalty which never was, us deserving a penalty which wasn't given, and the game finishing 2-2...seeing as broken leg aside, the Wigan match was eerily similar to the famous Birmingham match in 2008, it was probably for the best that it was out the way before we went to St Andrews.

- I wouldn't have criticised Arsene's team selection after Wigan. But what I would say is that his weak substitutions continue to be a concern, and his failure to change a game so much of the time - when undoubtedly we'll need him to in the second half of the season is clearly a cause for consternation.

- Arsene's abdication of responsibility for defending is incredibly worrying. It's not quite only taking responsibility when his team wins but it's not far off. If we continue to defend set pieces as ineptly, I can't see this season ending as brightly as it could do.

- The vilification for the manager was astonishing. We got a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions, and it's not easy to win away in the Premiership - just look at Man United. That we have the strongest away record in the Premiership is no coincidence.

As far as the match at St Andrews goes, aside from the dirty early tackle on Cesc, everything went our way. There's no doubting that a starting eleven like that one can win matches, it's how the squad does which will decide things in the coming months.

I'm trying to be brief here, because I need to get off to the ground for the City game, but for me, these two games were interesting. The Wigan match showed the few percentage points (and actual points) we lacked in 2010, and the Birmingham game showed what we can do.

The big question is whether we can play like we did at St Andrews more of the time? Hopefully we can, starting tonight against City.

Keep the faith.

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