If last weekend’s win over West Ham was a cruise, this was a cakewalk. Although ‘cakewalk’ would not describe the aggressive manner with which our boys went after Wigan.
From the moment the first whistle went our full-strength side wanted to destroy the opponents. Robin van Persie may have got the goals but our entire team was sensational today.
Cesc Fabregas ripped them to shreds with his passing, Samir Nasri with his movement, Theo Walcott with his pace and increasing ability to find the right final pass. Alex Song and Jack Wilshere contributed with energy and quality, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna chipped in with some excellent attacking work while Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny were always prepared to deal with a Wigan danger that never came.
People often criticise this side for failing to be clinical and although three goals was but a fraction of the amount that could have flown in, it was our incessant desire to score more that impressed me today.
At no point did we let up. At no point did we give Wigan — a side that has come from behind in the last two fixtures against us to snatch results — even the time to think they could get back into this one.
The number of chances that we created in the first half of them was incredible. I think I remember seeing a statistic indicating we had taken ten shots to Wigan’s zero in the opening 35 minutes. Reports of Ali Al Habsi’s performance in goal have been greatly exaggerated in my opinion — most of the shots flew straight at him and not the half a yard further away required to truly test his ability — and we opened the scoring when van Persie flashed home a delicate pass from Song after twenty minutes.
From that point on we were relentless. Fabregas steered the ship with a peerless display, better even than the man who walked away with his first hat-trick in an Arsenal shirt. There is a belief that the very best midfielders dictate play by making passes that move their teammates into the positions they want rather than the other way around and this ability was on display for all to see for today. His passing over the 90 minutes was incomparable, the lofted through-ball for van Persie’s second goal a work of art.
Fabregas also had a big hand in the final goal, releasing Walcott before the Englishman cleverly shielded the ball for van Persie to flash home the ball to complete his hat-trick. The Dutchman had blown an earlier opportunity to grab his third goal by blasting a penalty over the bar — I still think Nasri should take them! — and his joy and relief after scoring number three was understandable.
The knives were out for Wenger and this side after they drew with Leeds and lost to Ipswich but since we have responded in style: three wins on the trot, nine goals scored and just one conceded. Our team looks balanced in every department, our first-choice eleven stacked with players in good form that work together extremely well.
Lukasz Fabianski’s unfortunate injury has gifted Szczesny an oppportunity that he has taken with open hands. As much as I was enjoying Fabianski proving the doubters wrong I believe Wenger will maintain the younger Pole for the rest of the season. His confident presence appears to have calmed the side, as well as the supporters who for one reason or another believe he is a Messiah.
In front of him Djourou and Koscielny have formed a surprisingly solid defensive duo. Clichy has returned to form, Sagna is quite simply the best right-back in the league while in Song and Wilshere we have a central-midfield pairing with a great balance of skill, energy and aggression.
Meanwhile further ahead we have a front four that — when they play together — look unstoppable. Nasri has been the best player in the league this season, Walcott is getting better and better, van Persie’s return to the side has given us intelligence, unpredictability and leadership and Cesc, well, what more can I say that hasn’t already been said? He is a gem.
Wigan was the fifth league game this season that The Fab Four — yes, that is what I will call them from now on — have been played together. The results? A 3-1 win over Chelsea, three 3-0 wins over Birmingham, West Ham and Wigan and a 0-0 draw against Manchester City.
When you look at those figures the first thing that jumps out is the sheer number of goals that have been scored — 12 in five fixtures is magnificent — but what also becomes apparent is the goals against. Just one in five games suggests that when we have our best attackers playing together it allows us to control the game and give our defensive players far less work to do. The likes of Djourou and Koscielny should take immense credit from their recent defensive displays but Wenger’s notion that attack is the best form of defence is well supported by these numbers.
Injury-free with a settled starting XI, Arsenal are peaking at the right time.
Have your say on Arsenal’s impressive 3-0 win over Wigan.