3 points bagged, up into 3rd, 10 points away from avoiding relegation next year. Times are good in a bad way. How we are where we are considering our run is quite extraordinary! Still, I called it early December. I think we'll finish top four this season despite regressing as a team.
Wigan away shouldn't be tough, they have no supporters, their team is weak and they are in the bottom three. It doesn't stop them causing us problems every year.
Fair play to Martinez, he set his side out to play ball against us. Wigan man marked our midfield three and pressed with surprising vigour. We really struggled to make any incisive inroads in the opening 45.
Sagna and Chamberlain created the first chance combining well out wide, the Frenchman unlucky to have his cross cut out. Arteta worked well with Chamberlain again slipping him in after finding space in the middle, the newly contracted youngster smashed his shot low at the near post, Al Habsi did well to palm wide.
Both teams were struggling with the weather. Cazorla in particular seemed to have his bad touch boots on.
Wigan actually had the better chances, Kone found himself well past Mertesacker through the middle, he dragged his shot badly wide possibly because the German had done enough to put him off. Wigan's delivery in the final third was our saving grace.
The last notable issue of the first half was Jack Wilshere receiving a very harsh booking for a superb tackle. Moments later he was clattered. The worry with Jack is always discipline. Could he keep his cool under a Wigan bombardment of bad challenges?
The second half started in a far more lively fashion, mostly led by an impressive 20 minute cameo from Chamberlain. His first move was out wide where he beat his man but cut the ball behind Theo, the shot saved by Al Habsi. Our penalty came from an over hit Gibbs cross, Theo picked it up out wide, worked it into the box and was dropped by Beausejour.
Arteta stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way. One up...
Wigan had their chances to level. Kone forcing a good save from Chezzer after some horror show defending from Sagna. Wigan also had a very good shout for a penalty ignored when Gibbs handled in the box.
None of it mattered in the end, we took the three points and our third consecutive win.
Not pretty, not convincing but a win. That's all I can say there. Wigan had the better chances, looked more interested for large parts but couldn't find any end product.
There were some positives. The first one being Jack Wilshere. He was harshly booked for a great challenge. My concern was he'd be targeted from there, which he was, but he rode the storm and didn't land a red card. He's a horrible character to play against, exactly what we've needed for years. He can beat you for quality and he can beat you if you want to play like Stoke.
Chamberlain showed glimpses of what he's capable of. His wide display created a number of chances especially during the second half. He needs to start owning games, which he will in time. I think he's still trying to find his way in that position.
Theo Walcott, for all the goals, is not a top four teams central striker solution. His movement was good in patches, but he can't play with his back to goal and he can't hold the ball up, not to mention he has zero aerial threat. He's there at the moment because we want him to sign. For me, he's only ever going to make it at the highest level as a winger. His other choice is becoming striker at a team willing to play with two strikers.
Next up, Newcastle on the 29th. A much sterner challenge and better gauge for progress. A must win all the same...
Have a great day, see you tomorrow for A Christmas Eve post!
P.S. A very nice touch from Arsenal giving the away fans £10 vouchers.