Arsenal v Wigan player ratings
Szcz: Our keeper wasn’t helped in the way he has been in recent weeks by the team. Whilst our defensive record has been quite impressive of late, we made a point early on of destroying this and giving ourselves a volcano to climb. He didn’t get enough on the ball when he slid out during their first goal and although he showed bravery for their second by attempting to smother the ball in a forest of studs, neither actions really came off for him. Personally I think he could have done better on both goals, but I have to attest that the defending before he was forced to get involved was poor as well. He made a decent save from Moses late on and distributed well enough, but I’m sure he’ll as disappointed with himself as he will be with the teams defending. 5/10.
Sagna: Even the best right back in the league can have an off day as yesterday proved. He wasn’t his normally consistent self and made a bevy of uncharacteristic errors. His attempt to head the ball back to Van Persie after a poor corner from Arsenal was an atrocious decision as it left him outnumbered on the right. They capitalised on this very well and I would have expected a lot better from him. For their second goal he was left for dead by Moses and allowed a cross from the by-line which was eventually converted after a bit of a scramble. It was a bad day at the bureau, Moses had the beating of him all evening, but these things happen. We like him so much because of how infrequently this happens, so we have to give credit in this regard. 4/10.
Djourou: To be fair to him I think he has played well for the last two games. He worked hard to get back for their first goal after being in their box for our corner but didn’t quite have the pace to get back fully. For their second both him and Vermaelen could have done better to clear the cross that was drilled into our 6 yard box. There was one moment in the second half where him and Santos communicated poorly and executed even more poorly which gave them a chance to score, but over all I thought he had a better game than most. 6/10.
Vermaelen: He looked one of the few players to be awake for Arsenal in the opening exchanges, fizzing a long range effort just wide in the first few minutes and stepping into attack regularly. You may quarrel that this left us too exposed but it’s his way of playing the game and we often profit from it on the score sheet. Their first goal distorted us positionally and he couldn’t affect their movement, and with the second I feel he could have done better to clear the ball or box out their striker. Yet he was the one who tried to ignite us with a solid header into the bottom corner only minutes later, and it should have been enough to kick us into action. 6/10.
Santos: I was correctly critical of Santos last week whilst maintaining that I thought he was our best left back, and yesterday I think he proved me correct. I thought he was our best player for large portions of the game with a huge bulk of our attacks coming through him. Admittedly he missed a good opportunity after decent work between him and Van Persie, and he still hasn’t found his pace, but our better crosses and interplay around their box largely came through him and he still eliminated their players even though he was probably slower than all of them. There was a defensive mix up between him and Djourou in the second half which could have led to a third Wigan goal, but I don’t think that should detract from what was otherwise a good showing from the Brazilian. 7/10.
Song: I think Song’s play was representative of all of our midfielders, by which I mean that it was an arithmetic mean, or perhaps average. He failed to do much with the ball when he had it and missed an easy opportunity to play Theo in behind their defence. He was guilty of turning it over continually in midfield whilst looking for the foul and he wasn’t even a stalwart defensively. If his passing game is poor he can normally balance it out with the amount of tackles he makes, but that wasn’t the case yesterday. 5/10.
Arteta: He was missed badly in the middle as our players were bested in almost every aspect. I can’t blame him for not working back on their first goal as he was injured, but Wenger made the point that his coming off immediately meant that Ramsey wasn’t ready to come on and we were inadvertently down to ten men for their second goal too. Perhaps a player of his experience should have known to remain on the pitch and delay play? Anyway, I’m hoping he’s back very soon as we clearly need him. NA.
Rosicky: Just like Song he couldn’t quite play up to his usual standard. While he was ok in the first half I thought he struggled in the second, perhaps as a consequence of Arteta not being on and doing a lot of the defensive running for him. His burst of pace was used well in the first period to create a couple of opportunities, such as our goal, but he couldn’t put his foot on the gas in the second half and he struggled because of it. 6/10.
Walcott: Yet another one of those games for Theo, I can’t really remember him doing anything worth doing for 90 minutes. Walcott is only effective for us when he is slipped in behind the defence or is slipped into plenty of space on the right where he can put in a cross largely uncontested. If he’s put in a position in which he needs to eliminate a player or two before making the cross or shot, the chances are he’ll bail and pass back to Sagna. He was guilty of turning the ball over in the middle of the pitch for their goal and was particularly sluggish in working back to defend it. I think Gareth Bale is rubbish and massively overrated, but I don’t see why Walcott can’t carry the ball in his stride like Bale does and at least make 40 yards before having to lay the ball off. 4/10.
Benayoun: He was largely ineffectual unfortunately, basically doing no better and no worse than anyone else did. He hesitated when they broke for their first goal and as a result couldn’t make it back in time to put in a challenge, even though he did put in the 80 yard sprint to make it back. He came off for Gervinho who was, in a nutshell, as ineffective. 5/10.
Van Persie: One thing that annoyed me from yesterday was his unselfishness. There were so many instances where I just wanted him to work himself a yard of space and unleash a shot at goal, but he was too keen to play in someone else for my liking. I don’t think he touched the ball for the final 20 minutes and most of his touches during the game were from dead balls or from his dropping into midfield to pick the ball up. I’ve got no qualms with him squaring up to Caldwell or anyone else, it just shows he gives a crap. All this nonsense about him refusing to shake hands with him afterwards was typically blown out of proportion. Caldwell’s insistence on more than a parting and brief embrace wasn’t something Van Persie was interested in and I don’t blame him. He didn’t do anything stupid to warrant a booking, so I’ve got no problems. 5/10.
Ramsey: I’ve repeated many times that I dislike the amount of negative press Ramsey receives from our own supporters as it makes their position of a supporter a slight antithesis and largely untenable. Yet I bet they enjoyed themselves last night. He seems to have very heavy football boots which makes him unable to challenge for any aerial balls or run with any urgency. If he is incapable of improving his speed, which may well be the case, then he needs to get himself to the gym and develop ways of holding off other players more effectively. I thought he suffered from the sideways passing syndrome last night which was perhaps an indication of his lack of confidence to play the difficult pass, but threading the needle is what we need players like him to do on occasion. He certainly brings far less to the table than Arteta, that much is palpable. 5/10.
Gervinho: He came on but might as well not have. I have written before about how I don’t think he is the kind of player to make an impact off the bench and last night proved it, not that I needed further verification. I would have preferred it if he had disproved me obviously. He needs to start games to have the necessary impact and I think he will against Chelsea. 5/10.
Chamberlain: He came on to large applause and rightly so, but was then roundly condemned by many for trying to force the game. It was a little “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” for me, if he’d have come on and tried nothing he would have been just as criticised. He made a few quality bursts through the middle and chucked in a couple of nice crosses which no one had the intuition to get on the end of. 6/10.