Arsenal travel to the DW Stadium on Saturday to face one of their bogey teams of recent times, Wigan. The 19th placed side are coming off the back of their first win in 9 games after the 2-1 victory against Sunderland last week, however Arsenal should provide tougher opposition against the free-flowing football style that Martinez loves to utilise. The quality gulf in players should shine through for the Gunners as both teams like to retain possession and this should show especially in the attacking areas where Robin Van Persie is having a record-breaking season and Hugo Rodallega has been struggling to find form as can be seen in the table below (RVP on the left, Rodallega on the right). The potent attack force that Wigan possess is somewhat nullified by the poor form of Rodallega.
Wigan have only managed to beat Arsenal once in the Premier League, though it is a defeat that sticks heavily in the mind as a symbol of an Arsenal side that refused to put in the effort against the smaller teams and tended to switch off after gaining a lead, particularly in the latter stages of a game. This new look team does not appear to have that weakness that has so damaged previous seasons. They appreciate that the same level of effort that goes into beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge needs to go into a visit from West Brom at the Emirates and hopefully this trend will continue.
After Arshavin failed to impress with his recent chances, particularly against Fulham where he only had a pass completion rate of 76%, Gervinho should be expected to return to the starting line-up and pose a threat to the returning Boyce. The recent form of Walcott should give the Wigan defenders something to think about as he has appeared to have adapted his game for taking on a deep-lying fullback, as shown against Wigan with his assist for Vermaelan’s equaliser.
One major problem evident against Fulham was the lack of energy from the extremely important Ramsey and Arteta, no doubt fatigued from their efforts against Borussia Dortmund. A weeks rest will hopefully see them back to their best and creating chances for Van Persie and Ramsey improving on only his one goals scoring opportunity created as seen in the table above.
Wenger once again has a dilemma at the right back position. Djourou was excellent against Fulham however Koscielny has been in the form of his life and to be dropped to the bench would be extremely undeserving. I would expect the Vermaelen and Mertesacker partnership at the centre to continue. Santos will once again have a problem with his pace coming up against Victor Moses and his attacking instincts may have to be curbed in order to combat the electric winger.
The match report from George has the stats from the same fixture last season and they provide a useful insight. All stats are from Opta and can be accessed through our EPLIndex stats centre. Subscribe Now for access.