Another week, another four goals conceeded but for sixty minutes this was a veyr different performance.
Steve Bruce was forced to make one change from the horror show at Goodison, replacing the injured N’Zogbia with Rodellaga on the left wing and retaining a 4-5-1 formation with Mido once again operating as a lone striker.
Latics took the game to Arsenal from the start, with Valencia seemingly having re-discovered his vim and vigour, linking well with Melchiot and giving the Arsenal defence a torrid time.
Arsenal shorn of several first teamers but still boasting illuminous names such as Toure, Fabrigas, Walcott and Arshavin played neat football on the ground but Brown and Watson dealt covered superbly helping the defence.
With the lone striker formation, most of the balls to Mido were in the air but unfortunatley with no player in support,they came to nought.
Latics looked dangerous at set pieces, with Watson’s corners and free kicks espicially troublesome to the Arsenal back four.
It was from a Watson corner that Latics scored.Arsenal failed to deal with the loose ball and Mido balsted the ball into the net past the stranded Fabrinski.
Latics continued to dominate and in injury time the pivotal moment occured.
An Arsenal move broke down and Valencia broke from his own half beating the last defender.
With Valencia bearing down on the penalty area, a deliberate clumsy foul by Gibbs hauled Valencia down in what was a clear goal scoring opportunity.Gibbs was the last defender and everyone expected Mr Wiley to brandish a red card. Mr Wilet who it is not an exageration to say was awful merely brandished a yellow to the disbeleif of the WIgan players and releif of the Arsenal ones.
Watson almost rendered the decision null and void when a superb free kick hit the post with Fabrinski well beated.
Mr Wiley left the field to a cacophony of boos but Latics more than deserved their lead.
The second half sdtarted much in the same vein but on the 58th minute, Mido who had led the line superbly was forced off the pitch, replaced by the under-performing Kapo. Latics fans expected Hugo to be pushed up front with Kapo to replace him on the left wing but instead Kapo played the look striker role.
Within three minutes Arsenal were level, Walcott who had been well shackled up until this point,slotted a ball from Arshavin past Kirkland, who up until this point had been virtually a spectator.
Latics psuhed forward looking to re-take the lead but Arsenal were playing the better football now. From a throw in by the West Stand corner flag,Arshavin dummied past the static Boycealong the dead ball line and fed Silvestre for an easy second.
Steve Bruce decided to go for broke, replacing his best two midfielders with more attacking flair in De Ridder and Koumas.
The move back fired spectaculary, with neither substitute contributing anything meaningful and looking out of their depth at this level.
The third goal highlighted a total lack of professionalism by Koumas. A free kick to WIgan by Kouams was easily cleared leaving Wigan two on two. Koumas tracked back and won the ball but then committed a schoolboy error, by passing across his penalaty area without looking. The ball went straight to Arshavin, who won’t score an easier goal all season.
On ninety minutes, Latics defence once again fell asleep and Song coasted through and hit the ball past the hapless Kirkland.
The final whistle left the home fans complaining about the Valencia incident but in truth the lack of quality on the bench for Wigan, was the major factor in the remarkable eventual capitulation .
Picked the ball out of the net four times but had very little else to do.
Played a captain’s role, linking well with Valencia
Worked hard in defence buthad little influence going forwards.
Got caught out of position several times today again
Was given a torrid time in the second half.
Man marked Fabregas and did ok but time and again wasted his passes when going forwards. Needs a return to centre back to try and stem the goals conceeded.
Showed pace and skill, making the Arsenal defence look silly
Another totally committed performance , which some of his team mates could learn from.
Great set pieces and a good defensive performance
Led the line well but was too sellfish at times. His substitution was the turning point of the game
Was so far off side time and again it was embarassing
His schoolboy error was unforgivable and will no doubt be offloaded at the end of the season.
Steve Bruce…5/10. Bemoaned the lack of depth in the squad this week which is down to him and Mr Whelan. Needs to buy quality and in numbers thsi summer otherwise nexrt season will be a long hard one.
Will be intersting to hear his view on the sending off that never was. I bet he didn’t see it
They ahve a difficult job to do but how could he not send Gibbs off?