In the unlikely event that anyone bar the most loyal companions read my football meanderings, you may have noticed a lack of input on this blog following its initial flurry of activity…this is primarily because I’ve been preoccupied by rehearsals etc for the first show of my lovely lady’s company, The White House . The net result of this is that I’ve been too busy immured in a late 18th Century house of ill-repute to actually see any of November’s games, what with the excruciatingly dull and pointless international break interrupting once again (though I will concede seeing the worst England 11 in a decade beat Spain was very amusing).
But now the show is gone, and I am back – and Wigan took the bunt! A straightforward affair against what had previously been something of a tricky opponent in recent seasons, despite not really being any good. The trend of Wigan’s mediocrity was more evident than ever yesterday, as not only were they low on confidence, but also put out a team very low on quality. After an initial good spell for the hosts, Arteta shot from range through the grasp of the usually more defiant Al-Habsi, and a couple of minutes later Van Persie dropped a corner onto Vermaelen’s head perfectly, and the Belgian steered a tricky header in off the post. Three goals already since returning from his horrible injuries for the vice-captain, echoing his goalscoring form in his first season.
At this stage the game was pretty much over, as Wigan lacked the threat of previous years without the likes of N’zogbia and with Rodellega on the bench and out of touch. The second half was even more processional, with Clattenburg taking pity on the home side turning down a nailed on penalty after Ramsey was fouled twice in the box when about to shoot, and with Gervinho finally getting back on the scoresheet after a couple of wasted opportunities, turning in a Van Persie rebound with a strange awkward deftness. Speaking of large domed Ivorian, this interview Gervinho: ‘All of England expects Arsenal to win and so do the fans’ | Football | The Guardian followed a week of ‘bigging up’ in the press from the ever astute Wenger, as well as discussions about his goalscoring (or lack of it).
Cherry on the cake was the customary Van Persie goal from a Walcott assist. As well as being second only to Robin Hood on the google list of Robin’s, he is even getting featured articles in Sport’s Illustrated – Arsenal forward Robin van Persie in the form of his life – Ben Lyttleton – SI.com, though the American’s inflate his by now well known transfer fee. The stats say it all though: in 2011, he has scored 45 goals in 52 games, with 39 goals in 43 games for Arsenal; this season alone, 14 goals in 13 league starts. Also all Walcott’s assists this year bar last weeks to Vermaelen have been to the Dutch forward, which certainly illustrates the development of their understanding. Arsenal’s good run continues, and the calming influence of Arteta, Mertesacker and to a degree Santos cannot be underestimated. Wigan on the other hand look down to me, with their great stadium getting even emptier by the week. I like and respect Roberto Martinez, but he’s got such a poor squad to work with.