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EPL Match Day 24: Arsenal v Wigan; Match Preview

It’s amazing what win can do for your soul. After dismal showings against Leeds and Ipswich in cup ties, the Gunners came back and dispatched West Ham in the leageu and took care of business against Leeds in the FA Cup replay. And now the Gunners head home for four matches in a row brimming with confidence. First up on the docket – Wigan.

It’s amazing what a win can do for your soul. After dismal showings against Leeds and Ipswich in cup ties, the Gunners came back and dispatched West Ham in the league and took care of business against Leeds in the FA Cup replay. And now the Gunners head home for their next 7 out og 8 matches brimming with confidence.  This next run has become a crucial part of their seaso and their intetions. First up on the docket – Wigan.

Is anyone else worried by this?

Look by all statistical probabilities we should absolutely run riot over these guys. The Gunners are 8-1-2 against the Latics over the years. Arsenal are sporting the best offence in the league and they are yet to concede a goal in the league for 2011 – the only club not to do so. So what’s to worry right? Everything seems in working order.

Except that this season of bi-polar proportions we haven’t done anything exactly the easy way have we? Had we dispatched Wigan 4 weeks ago we’d be top of the league and looking down on our kingdom.  Had we not fallen prey to a guffed up West Brom we’d be comfortably up top. All the time with those matches we felt assured and confident. And now we seem even more so.

Wenger has declared we are going to give our all for all four competitions we are in. That’s right you doubters, the Gunners are the only EPL squad currently in four competitions. Someone needs to tell me how they did that considering some of you say we have no depth. But I digress. I am reading on twitter and in the press people feeling a comfortable thrashing is at hand.  And you know what –  they are probably right.

Though when it has all mattered before we have been set up for a colossal let down. Wigan have done us in twice in the last two years, albeit in their own play ground. The most recent was coming back with 10 men to draw even with the Gunners only four weeks ago. They are well managed and they play attacking football.  They will be up for the game and I think Rodaellega andN”Zogbia are decent attacking players and would relish the chance to score on Arsenal at the Emirates. If we take this half-assed like some of our other assured moments – we are to put it bluntly,screwed.

For our part, the full “A” squad should feature tomorrow. The only change would be with Szczesny in goal, conintuing on for the injured Lukasz Fabianksi. The problem for our more senior pole is that the junior pole keeper is showing – so far at least – that he is every bit the keeper everyone – including himself – says he is. Bendtner could learn something from Szczesny – like when you say you are something you actually live up to it and perform. Ah, again I digress. It has to be said Szczesny said he wanted more time and would show he deserves to be the number one and he is doing a damn fine job so far showing us all.

Unlike some of the other squads that have caugtht us, Wigan aren’t going to park ten men behind the bus. They aren’t coached that way and Roberto Martinez doesn’t want to play that way. This could favor our squad as a healthy team that is gaining in form, will certainly be able to open up a squad such as this.  If the Gunners are to keep up with United and City and keep pressure on them then this is a match they must have. There can be no relaxing. We are beginning the downward slide to the end of the season.

We were in the the hunt last season. But realistically it never seemed like we had a chance to really close it down. This season with all its twists and turns, a successful run by the Gunners now could propel them to the top of the league. With a favorable fixture list – only matches against United, Tottenham and Liverpool seem to be the hardest – the Gunners are going to be in for a  title run this season. Staying healthy and focused on the end result could be all that come between being runner’s up or champions.

And byt the way if you needed any more reason to believe the Gunners are for real – Fergie and Wenger are once again at each other. That’s a sure sign we are back to being a threat.

How the Match Should Play Out:
We’ve discussed that Wigan are not a defencive side. Martinez has them playing attacking football. As they sit towards the bottom of the table, they will be hungry for some points and bouyed by their recent results. In other words, the will come to play. Arsenal for their part will be more than willing  to play with them. Expect the opening to be quick paced as each side feel each other out probing for weaknesses. The problem for Wigan is that there is just too much skill, especially in the Arsenal midfield for Wigan to be too much of a prolonged threat. The likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Theo, Van Persie and Wilshere are going to have their way with the midfield Wigan puts out there. The absence of Cleverly is going to weigh big for Martinez’s group. As much as I am worried about a misstep, I just don’t see one happening. Gunners go for it and come out victorious.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Wojiech Szczesny. Simply put he has been playing big and playing like he is the number 1. If he continues this run, Wenger has a very hard decision should Fabianski heal.

Wigan: Hugo Rodaellga. On a team that is having trouble scoring he is it’s leading scorer with 5 tallies on the season.

Probable Starting XI:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal:  Diaby (calf) Squillaci (thigh) Almunia (ankle) Frimpong (knee), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Wigan: Moses (shoulder) McCarthy (leg) Cleverly (hamstring)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal: Nasri14 (9 league) Chamakh 10 (7 league) Walcott 10 (7 league)

Wigan: Rodallega 6 (6 league) N’Zogbia 4 (3 league)

Last Meeting: (EPL)
Arsenal: 2
Wigan: 2

Last 5:
Arsenal: WDWDW
Wigan: WDLDD

Goals For:
Arsenal: 2.2 (home)
Wigan: 0.8 (away)

Goals Against:
Arsenal: 1.1 (home)
Wigan: 1.3 (away)

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: 23
Wigan: -15

Match Officials:
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt & Paul Thompson
Fourth official: Lee Probert

Broadcast Information:
US: 10:00 AM EST

UK: ?????? 1500 GMT


GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3
Wigan: 0


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