Saturday 18 January 2020

Gunners move up through the gears


Eleanor Crooks

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hailed an all-round display from his side at the DW Stadium, which saw the north London club climb to fifth in the Premier League table.

Mikel Arteta opened the scoring in the 28th minute and Thomas Vermaelen made it two a minute later, while second-half goals from Gervinho and Robin van Persie accurately reflected the visitors' dominance.

Wenger's side have now won six of their last seven league matches. The Frenchman said: "Overall we had a good team performance defensively and offensively. The confidence is there and you could feel that in the way we played today, so I can only congratulate the team. They are growing and getting better and better."

Wigan began brightly and should have gone ahead in the sixth minute when Wojciech Szczesny parried David Jones' cross straight to Jordi Gomez, but the Spaniard's shot was deflected behind by Andre Santos.

That was to be their brightest moment though, and Arsenal took control with two goals in less than two minutes just before the half-hour mark.

First Arteta was allowed to run at the Wigan defence before letting fly from 25 yards, although his shot was straight at Ali Al Habsi and should have been kept out. Then Van Persie's corner was nodded in by Vermaelen.

The result was put beyond any doubt in the 61st minute when Al Habsi parried Van Persie's effort and the ball fell perfectly for Gervinho.

Van Persie had been unusually profligate but 12 minutes from time he grabbed his 14th Premier League goal of the season after a driving run from Theo Walcott.

Wenger admitted their trip to Wigan two seasons ago, when the Latics had come back from two down to triumph, had been on his mind, while he was pleased Arsenal did not rely solely on Van Persie for goals.

He said: "I had that in my memory when it was 2-0 and they started strongly in the second half because it happened to us before. But I just felt today we had too much for Wigan and we looked solid at the back, we didn't lose any fights.

"I'm happy that we scored goals, of course, but also that some other players scored, and Robin van Persie scored as well. It is good for the morale of the team."

Blackburn's victory over Swansea yesterday meant Wigan slipped back to the bottom of the table, and the performance was a big disappointment to manager Roberto Martinez after the high of last weekend's win at Sunderland.

He said: "I thought we started really well. The first 10 or 15 minutes we created problems and I felt we were going to grow really well into the game.

"Everything you do in a football game is to score goals, and in the same manner conceding the goals we conceded today makes performances very difficult.

"The two goals are really soft and they are really close to each other, and I felt that affected us too much.

"In the second half we started brightly again but we weren't ourselves, we couldn't reach the level we reached in the last two games, and we cannot keep conceding goals like we did .

"We conceded early goals against Sunderland and Blackburn and we got back into the games, but when you're playing against top-class opposition you need to be a little bit harder to beat."

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