It's time to roll out the cliches again, yesterday truly was a game of two halves as all football matches are, there really was a stark contrast between the Arsenal sides we saw in the first and second halves. The formation was the obvious thing that changed, 4-5-1 it was in the first and then to 4-4-2 in the second when RVP came on for the anonymous Denilson. It can't all be put down to the formation though as the crucial equalised came just before this formation change, the Walcott equaliser came one minute before RVP's introduction.
The less said about the first half the better, we never got going, Wigan thoroughly deserved their lead at the break and arguably we were lucky that it wasn't more than a one goal margin. Fabianski was looking a little shaky and he could have done better with Mido's early goal for sure. Wigan had other chances, and even hit the post with a free kick that had Fabianski well beaten. The unfortunate Johan Djourou tweaked his knee and had to be stretchered off, bad news given Gallas is out for the season, Mikel Silvestre came on to replace him. There's no denying the key moment came near the end of the first half when Kieran Gibbs escaped with a yellow card having had a tug at Valancia's shorts when he was clean through. Gibbs was certainly fortunate not to see red but watching the incident again I can't help but feel a red would have been harsh as Valencia clearly tugs back Gibbs initially, Valencia's left arm has a good pull at Gibbs' right shoulder, arguably this was the initial offence.
Once Walcott had equalised after some good wriggling by Arshavin, there was only one team tha was going to win the game. Wigan capitulated in impressive fashion, this was catalysed by our change to a 4-4-2 formation and the key equalising goal. A lovely move saw Cesc square accurately from the left wing to find Mikel Silvestre roaming where strikers do, his finish was faultless. Koumas then teed up Arshavin for the third, what a cracking leather spanking finish. The fourth came courtesy of Alex Song doing a Puskas impression, gliding past two men with the ball seemingly glued to his foot and then finishing emphatically into the bottom corner. Mission complete.
Another three points, another game without defeat in the league and a bit more daylight between ourselves and our wannabees Everton and Villa. Certainly Gibbs was a little fortunate, however it would have been a very harsh decision given that the initial foul was Valencia's, but coming back with ten men would have been a more uphill battle. I can't help but think that Arsene is rather too fond of the 4-5-1 formation, I just don't recall it serving us very well in the Premiership in recent years. Attack is the best form of defence and against a side like Wigan there is a tendency for our lone striker to become rather isolated and it is consequently very hard to retain possession. Having said that Arsene clearly wanted to keep a few players fresh for the Villareal game in midweek.
One big difference in the second half of the season has been the abundance of attacking talent we have at our disposal, Arshavin's arrival with the return of Walcott and Eduardo means that we can bring on substitutes who can change the game and this is key. Johan Djourou's injury is bad news, he may be out for some time but I'm sure a scan will reveal the severity of the damage in the next couple of days, the good news is that Marcos Senna is out of next week's game with a hamstring injury. Finally this weekend it should be remembered that football is only a game and that human lives are much more important, the Hillsborough disaster is being remembered as it's 19th anniversary approaches.