Fresh from their second demolition of Reading in just two months, Arsenal travel to injury-hit Wigan in Saturday’s lunch time kick-off, who are without a win in four EPL games, with their last coming against…Reading.
After the embarrassment of losing to Bradford in the Capital One Cup, Arsene Wenger was clearly delighted that his Arsenal side would be making the headlines for all the right reasons. Unsurprisingly, Reading were again exposed in a defence, which both you and I would fancy our chances against. The front four of Arsenal’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation were able to wreak havoc in the final third, and amid all the so-called “crisis” talk, Wenger’s side sit just one-point behind fourth placed Spurs and are through to the latter stages of the Champions League.
However, Arsenal should not get too carried away with this performance. After all, Saturday’s opponents Wigan, created at least four clear-cut chances in their last EPL win at home to Reading last month, winning the game 3-2. Furthermore, prior to the 5-2 win, Arsenal apparently needed to spend £200 million on a new squad to compete with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea. But overnight, Arsenal now have a bright future with young English talent in Gibbs, Wilshere, and Walcott? Maybe. But only if they can keep hold of their current stars and re-invest the money received for the likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie, and Song.
Form and Team News
Arsenal travel to Wigan having won just twice in their last seven games in all competitions. But off the back of the 5-2 win at the Madjeski Stadium, Arsenal can travel to Wigan with confidence. Giroud is expected to be closer to full-fitness on Saturday following his cameo substitute appearance against Reading after recovering from a back-injury. Meanwhile, Santos and the massively missed, Diaby, remain sidelined.
Wigan go into the game having picked up just four points from their last seven games. Following the lackluster display at Norwich and a fresh injury concern for James McCarthy, Wigan are now top of the EPL injury-list, with eight absentees. Despite the return of Figuerora last weekend, Wigan looked open at the back and if it wasn’t for a few outstanding saves from Al-Habsi, it could have been a lot worse for Wigan. The defeat to Norwich means that Wigan have only won 1/11 games this season when they have conceded the first goal, with the win coming, perhaps unsurprisingly, against Reading. With captain Gary Caldwell expected to be out for at least another week, it could be a difficult afternoon for Wigan, unless the likes of Jones and Maloney can come in and take full advantage of their opportunities.
Ones to Watch
Should Arsenal stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation employed against Reading, the creativity and ruthlessness shown by the likes of Podolski, Cazorla and Walcott suggests that Martinez and his depleted Wigan side have a massive task on their hands. Cazorla is now the second most creative player in the EPL, creating a chance created every 32.15 minutes, which accumulates to 47 chances. With Wigan looking open at the back and missing key players, Cazorla could be in his element come Saturday lunch time. It will be interesting to see if top goal scorer, Theo Walcott, has done enough to keep his starting place up front. Theo Walcott has the most impressive shots-to-goal ratio this season, converting every 3.2 shots.
Wigan will be hoping that their EPL top goal scorer, Kone (4), can regain his early season form in front of goal, having failed to score in his last 6 EPL matches. Meanwhile, Gomez has looked ineffective for much of the season, with the hat-trick against Reading being his only stand-out performance. Despite this, Arsenal’s five-minute blip at Reading – where they conceded two goals in quick succession – does offer the likes of Kone and Gomez some hope.
Arsenal will go into Saturday’s lunch time kick-off with injury-hit Wigan high on confidence following the 5-2 demolition of Reading. With Wigan missing eight first-team players and without a win in four matches, the likes of Podolski, Cazorla, and Walcott will fancy their chances in the final third. Considering Wigan have won just 1/11 matches when conceding the first goal, expect Arsenal to attack Wigan from the off. With Wigan unlikely to be relying on their defensive capabilities and Reading exposing Arsenal’s defensive frailties on Monday night, an open match looks to be on the cards.
Finally we’ll leave you with some stats from last year’s (2011/12) encounter. Arsenal will be hoping for a similar result.