The warm september sun bore down in Islington this afternoon, and the 59 odd thousand Gooners in the Emirates were treated to something of an exhibition of football from an Arsenal team that looked to have recovered well from the trials of a mid-week game away in Belgium.
Vito Mannone retained his place in goal as Almunia remained in the sick bay, Rosicky dropped to the bench, Eboue came in to the advanced wide right position in the 4-3-3 alongside RVP and Eduardo, with Diaby/Cesc/Song in midfield. I said on Friday that i wanted to see an improvement from Arsenal, and Clichy and Cesc in particular. And 2 out of 3 was not a bad return by any means.
However, I will start briefly with the negatives, which for me was the somewhat lacklustre 90 mins put it by our captain Cesc Fabregas. I don't want to dwell on it on an afternoon when we won 4-0, but I was unimpressed, again, by the lack of workrate from Cesc. I think you could count the number of tackles and headers he won on one hand. Yes, he is a nice player in possession and scored a goal, but he is no Rosicky.
Anyway, moving on to the game itself, the first 45 mins was a slow builder. A lot of toil and possession but a shortage of clear chances. Clichy played with composure down the left, Diaby meandered around a bit, RVP and Eduardo looked productive, and the Eboue tried the worst Hand-of-God impression I have ever seen when he could not quite reach a good cross from Eduardo. It was truly embarrassing.
Thankfully, man of the match Thomas Vermaelen trotted up for a corner about 10 minutes later and thundered the ball into the back of the net. He scored an absolute belter in the second half with his left foot. In fact, it was so good that I assumed RVP had hit it at first. Plus this guy was excellent defensively all match. He attacks the ball in the air, heads it with ease, is good on the deck, looks quick to recover from any minor mistakes he makes. He looks proper.
So 1-0 at half time and in theory in the game was still in the balance. Wigan had done very little indeed, but there is always the feeling that this Arsenal side will concede, so we needed a bright start to the second half.
In some ways we got it, but the second goal took a bit more time that I would have liked. However, when Vermaelen continued to join the attack and drifted to the edge of the box, I had no idea that he was about to unleash the ball into the top left corner. He is our top scorer this season and has been a rock at the back so far.
The third goal was an Eduardo show. He volleyed against the post, the rebound worked back into the box and eventually fell to his right foot, but Eboue got a good touch on the shot to claim the goal, but Eduardo deserves a lot of credit. The 4th came late on to add a nice gloss, a good cross from Bennndtner squeezed in by Cesc. Alex Song also deserves a mention after a good second half, Clichy was much improved, and Rosicky looked a class act again in his 25 min appearance as a sub.
So an easy three points in the sun for the Gooners, and 9 points from 5 games now begins to move us back in the right direction. This was a nice one and hopefully we can build on it. There is a lot of potential in this team and we are now beginning to play some football AND get the results. Sometimes.