Arsenal 2-0 Wigan: An opportunity for a trophy we must take

Last night two goals from Nicklas Bendtner and Manchester United’s best player from last season, Own Goal, helped Arsenal into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

The club is now within touching distance of its first trophy in over five years, since Patrick Vieira signed off on his Arsenal career by slotting the winning kick in the 2005 FA Cup.

In truth, this game was a breeze for a very strong Arsenal second team. Wigan put up very little resistance and any forward threat they posed disappeared with an injury to Victor Moses, their only bright spot in attack, midway through the first half.

It took us some time to find our rhythm. Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner looked disjointed up front while the use of 4-4-2 forced Theo Walcott to receive the ball in less threatening positions. Carlos Vela, meanwhile, seemed to be playing on skates — not in the Zidane way, mind you — and slipped over any time he looked dangerous.

Fortunately our misfiring frontline was supported by a rock-solid back six behind them. Although the difficulty of their job was tempered by Wigan’s inability to create anything meaningful up front, Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny were in complete control at the back an their confidence projected onto the rest of the team. Kieran Gibbs got forward well, Emmanuel Eboue played like Emmanuel Eboue and with Wojciech Szczesny prowling the penalty area like a caged tiger, we never looked likely to concede a goal.

Carlos Vela was far more involved against Wigan

Carlos Vela was far more involved against Wigan

Denilson had a mixed game, working well with Jack Wilshere but misplacing too many passes. A lot of his poorer passing came in the first half as a result of seeking out van Persie and Bendtner, whose movement was tempered by the formation and a general rustiness in their play. However, I felt the Brazilian lost the ball too often in the middle third of the pitch, perhaps a result of attempting to take more responsibility and dictate the pace of the game in the absence of more senior players.

The game became far more comfortable when Wigan’s captain deflected in Walcott’s wicked corner and at half-time, it was hard to see any other outcome than an Arsenal victory.

The boys toiled for a killer goal throughout the second half — Vela in particular seemed in the mood — but had to wait until the 67th minute before Bendtner scored. To his credit, the enigmatic Vela played a big part in the goal, setting the Dane up with a perfect low cross that cut out three Wigan defenders.

Chances came and went in the final twenty minutes, as did Arsenal substitutions — Samir Nasri, Craig Eastmond and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas all getting game time — but the score remained 2-0. A fair reflection on the game and our first clean sheet since beating Wolves in the league.

Some conclusions from the win over Wigan.

Firstly, those baying for a return to the starting team for van Persie need to hold their tongue. Still a long way off his best, understandably of course, van Persie has done nothing to warrant the displacement of the hard-working, disciplined Marouane Chamakh. If Wenger can find a way to accommodate the pair then perhaps that is a solution although a front three of Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Chamakh is the best we have on current form.

Secondly, Vela needs to be given more time. He is arguably the best finisher in the Arsenal squad, is as quick as anyone aside from Walcott and when he involves himself over 90 minutes like he did last night, is a handful for defenders. He is a player waiting for the right injuries to allow him an opportunity to make his mark on the first team. Wigan was a step in the right direction.

Finally, Djourou and Koscielny look very natural together as a central-defensive pairing. Although their lack of leadership qualities necessitates the presence of Sebastien Squillaci on a regular basis, there is a balance to their pairing that bodes extremely well for the future. Throw in Thomas Vermaelen and we have a very strong, very hungry central-defensive quartet.

With Wigan successfully navigated and Manchester United shockingly knocked out of the competition by West Ham — 4-0! Get in there you Hammers! — the Carling Cup is there for the taking.

For the good of the club and the supporters and to take the first steps towards creating a winning mentality among this group of players, we must take it.

Have your say on Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Wigan by leaving a comment.



  1. Am enjoying my day after last nights’ victory and more so because man u is now out. l just hope the boys can see this as a very realistic chance to win us something this season.

  2. Gud article Andy (as always)!!!

    You’re absolutely right about vela needing match time.

    But Preferring Chamakh over RVP sounds odd for me. You can talk about the current form, but think of the Arsenal we saw last week, which struggled to score under pressure. RVP is more of a match winner i’d prefer starting our strongest line-up.

  3. I thought Kos was superb last night. Some Arsenal fans have been calling for him to be shipped out already but I think he is going to be amazing! He is still only young.

  4. thinking about wengers comments regarding not signing players in jan is really going to divide opinion again on these pages.for me its a massive error.wenger doesnt like the jan window and is often quick to remind us of the fact.he is loyal to his players yes but at times its his undoing.he hates to break up his squad becuase he is so determined for this particular group to win something but how long is he going to a firm beleiver that every player has a price and there are not many players in the world who would turn arsenal down.we have the cash and the players we need are very much out there.the problem wenger has is numbers.we have 2 pretty poor keepers that he has held onto for too long.we have 4 recognised CBs with only one (TV) being deemed good enough at present.wenger bought 2 defenders in and they havent really made the grade but he obviously cant admit that and buying a CB would be that admission,we have up to 6 players who can play up front with only 1 really playing in form (chamakh).so wenger will argue that we have numbers in key areas.his unwillingness to sell or buy in january means we have to work with the players we have.

  5. Why the hell are some of our players now wearing neck scarfs? If they are cold they should run around a bit more to keep warm?

  6. My thoughts exactly on the defense 🙂 Unfortunately i still haven’t seen the game. Just caught the commentary last night and saw the highlights today. Regarding Vela. I guess being given time is right but when his brother is intimating that he’s getting impatient then you have to wonder if he will stay. At the moment he’s done nowhere near enough to get in the team on a regular basis, or even ahead of Bendtner in the pecking order.

    @clockend gooner
    I don’t see why wearing neck scarves is a problem. I don’t think ‘braving’ the cold makes the players more macho or anything as most commentators seem to suggest. It’s probably better that they feel comfortable and hence can concentrate on the game. Running isn’t everything. Having said all that, Eboue’s tights were probably a step too far 🙂

  7. Good post but , i strongly feel we have the weakest defence among the top four in the league looking at the way we have cracked when pushed hard by other teams. Our defence pairing has no balance and Wenger needs time to find a strong back four , it must be noted that our defence looked more commanding because there was no threat posed by wigan. Wenger needs to find a strong commanding center back , talk of the likes of Vidic , calvaho and may be pepe….we definately need a strong center back!!!!!!

  8. yes, we have good result but not only good result.In Our team we must find strong center back,my side i will feel bad if we lost Gary Caill from Bolton, as you look is the strongest player . Actually we have problem of center backs

  9. @ IndianGunner – I’m not sure which week you are talking about? Chamakh has scored in both the last two games. He deserves to play because his form has been good and he has proved himself. I’ll say it again but RVP does not deserve to walk back into this side. Chamakh has earned his spot and it is up to RVP (and Bendtner) to show that they deserve it more.

  10. @ drew10 – I rate Koscielny extremely highly as well. But I do feel Djourou was unlucky to lose his spot. I think we’re spoiled for choice in this area of the pitch, even if people complain about our defence.

  11. I’ve yet to see the game but just caught the highlights to last night’s match. I am very happy for Arsenal and even happier seeing Man U lose (and THAT badly), but my mind still dwells on the negative. Yes, I know I should enjoy the victory but again one of Arsenal’s recent glaring problems has shown itself.

    I don’t think I’ve watched a highlight reel so one sided to Arsenal in about a month. I couldn’t believe how many chances they had, but they could not finish. Arsenal has a litany of talented goal scorers, but for some reason they squander so many chances. After watching the highlights I was shocked that the score wasn’t doubled. They manage to get so deep into enemy territory, are STILL able to move the ball around, but can’t pull the trigger. As disappointing as Vela was with his missed opportunities, I would prefer to see Bendtner leave Arsenal which could open up space for Vela. Despite his size, Bendtner has no aerial skills and very little Viking strength.

    A side note: I am thoroughly enjoying watching Wojciech Szczesny. I can’t tell anyone in person that I like watching him because I haven’t learned how to say his name phonetically yet. He is an intense keeper and seems to have the stones to dictate play and leave an impression with his own saves. Not a busy night for him yesterday, but I am looking forward to seeing if he falls under the spell of inconsistency that has plagued his predecessors.

  12. @Andrew put koscielny and Djourou aganist AN RECOGNISED striker , the likes of Drogba or even Andy carrol and you will be able to easily see that there very far from being good CBS………Pliz ! wenger should spend in the January window………

  13. Y is everyone so happy that utd lost, i would have rather had it we kicking their arse, although they did loose 4-0, which makes their 7-1 victory looked long gone and lost, although people might argue (as usual) no berbatov no rooney, but they had a pretty strong line up in my opnion with the likes of giggs, fletcher, chichrito etc… Well even if we do win the CC its nothing to go on ranting abt because the critics and other fans will hit us back saying well its just the carling cup a competition to breed young talent..

  14. I can understand that Eboue wears tights, because I would freeze to death in that cold
    but the comments about it are class 😀

  15. Nice article. Agree about RVP. He had some great touches last night. Is it time for Vela to go on loan to a Premier League side? He clearly has the ability to get into open space. He worked hard last night. He just seems to need far more games than he is getting now to get his match sharpness.

  16. Andrew, why RVP instead of Chamakh? Why not RVP sitting in the hole right behind Chamakh??? He can then interchange with Nasri or Arshavin at will… or just sit there and destroy defenses. Yes — RVP, Destroyer of Defenses. When he gets back, let Cesc slide back a bit into midfield where he can launch our attacks and let Jack and Alex rest a little bit…

    And again: why Kosciencly or Djourou? Why not both, playing together? They feel like naturally partnership to me. And to Corn P: Pepe??? Really??? Pepe who was on the wrong side of Everyone on Wednesday??? Doesn’t intelligence count for something in a defender? or do we just look for the biggest brute we can find?

  17. Just to clarify: I’m agreeing with you about Djourou and Koscielny, disagreeing about RVP… and Pepe, of course, played and played badly on Monday, not Wednesday.

  18. I’m happy that United lost. Why shouldn’t I be? It always makes me happy when they lose. I’m not even happy that we won’t have to face them. I don’t care about that. We won, they lost. All in all a good day.

  19. There are many reasons we(and not only we) call them Manure!
    So Roy Keane saves his job. Remember what a leader he was going into WC 2002? Ask Mick McCarthy.
    If we can’t beat Ipswich home and home, we don’t deserve a trophy, but I sure like our chances. Birmingham backed in again and got lucky, but West Ham were truly impressive against Manure

  20. Haven’t seen any highlights of this game – they showed the Manure Hammers game here in Oz. It’s great to see that we are close to at least a final appearance but the draw brings back some very bad memories for me – am going to show my age here. I vividly remember losing to Ipswich in the FA CUp final in 78 and worse to the Hammers two year later. I was at wembley to see us lose 1-0 to a Trevor fucking Brooking header (he never scored with his head in his life!). Worst day of my life which when you are 14 or so that means something! I hope we end up playing Brum…

    Re the RVP/Chamakh debate it wil be interesting to see who Wenger plays this weekend. I reckon he wil stick with Chamakh and ease RVP back into it. We need him fully fit for the big games coming up.

  21. @Andy – How did how we play yesterday translate into a 4-4-2? I’m thinking you meant 4-2-4, right? Pls correct it now. Vela and Walcott are not midfielders. If Walcott can be taken as a midfielder, i highly disagree about Vela.
    Yes, Wenger took the Carling cup very seriously from the beginning…..This might be our only trophy this year(hope not).

    Again, is it because Chamakh can only play CF that the coach now wants to introduce another striker in the centre as a central support striker (this is clearly Arshavin and Nasri territory)? It is clear that B52 will be benched by Chamakh, so i’m guessing the coach is at a loss of how to introduce RVP into the team, hence the decision to play him behind B52.
    If this is going to be his new plan, then I do not like it. Our strikers cannot play the ball(dribble), they cannot even lay accurate passes….infact, they are only there to finish(score/shoot). Therefore, I would only like it if one of Chamakh or RVP plays at anytime(still this depends on the opposition and the need to score), this would mean playing a high line at the back.

    I would really love it if one of Arshavin, Rosicky or Nasri is made to play this new role. With FABs running from defense to attack(CM) and Song sticking in our half throughout the match(DM), two wingers or only one to accomodate another player in the midfield(depending on which team we play against) and then the back four…..So, we could still maintain our 4-3-3 or start a new tactical 4-2-4 system with amazing depth and stability. Stick to our side/half(depending on opposition), respect all opponents and counter with some devastation.

    Imagine this
    Arshavin(SS) Walcott(SS/WF)
    Clichy Verm/Kos Djourou/Kos Sagna
    Chamakh, Rosicky, Wilshere, Denilson, Gibbs, Eboue, Squillachi/Djourou, Czesny

    This thing is not coming out exactly as I put it. The central SS is just a bit to the left of the CF. The AM is just a little left of the central SS(even though he could be drifting), the CM is just a little right of the CF(could drift as well), with the DM in the middle.

    Arshavin needs just a sniff on goal and he shoots with devastating ordinance. If he goes off injured, Nasri replaces him immediately and Rosicky comes on. If speedster Walcott goes off injured, Nasri/Rosicky could still take his place and Rosicky comes on. If Nasri goes off injured, Rosicky comes in naturally or FABs goes advanced(AM) and Wilshere replaces FABs(CM). This team is just crazy and you cannot imagine the amount of tinkering that could be done by Wenger.
    Tell me we would not beat Barcelona with these guys on parade.

    Finally, I really want people to STOP shouting about our defense. The keeper saved only one shot throughout the game. This defense issue is more of a let down from the midfield(they keep bombing forward) than any other thing. We have excellent defenders(my opinion) and Kos was amazing yesterday, just more time for him to explode.

  22. mr gunner boss. I would have to disagree on the fact that our strikers can not dribble or pass. They might be (they as in RVP Chamakh B52) slightly lacking in the dribbling department. But i think most of us have seen RVP lay down some beautiful through balls (RVP to walcott in the blackpool game or something like that comes to mind, as well as chamakh to fabregas against everton) I would like to see RVP play in the second striker spot. When RVP is playing he has the ability to slice up defenses (see numerous backheels to vela in this match) Not taking away from vela but what if we had Arshavin/Nasri running on to that backheel. I do believe that people are being harsh on our defense. Koscieleny has been spot on (except for a few mistakes) as well as Djourou. Both of those dudes are massive in the air.

  23. I’m hoping Arsene is bluffing about buying no one in Jan – trying to keep the price of any potential transfer as low as possible. If he’s not bluffing and we don’t buy a big, quality central defender then I just don’t believe we can possible win anything other than maybe the Carling. The Kosh/ Squilch/ Djorou combinations are ok. They’re doing alright and certainly better than Gallas, Sylvestre etc from last season, but ‘alright’ does not win you the Premier League or the Champs League. ‘Alright’ makes you a runner up. We need ‘Great’. Someone rightly pointed out that manure have conceded only one less than us in the league but while that’s true, it’s been noted that manure’s defense is a bit of a mess this season. They themselves regard it as a problem and it will be no surprise whatever to see manure buy in a top class defender in Jan. And remember they’ve let in one less than us. Now take a look at The Rent Boys goals against column. 7 less than us. Out of 15 games played that’s a big diff. Kosh/ Squilch/ Djorou are not going to become Great overnight. While I take GunnerBoss’s point about the midfield also needing to help defend it ultimately comes down to the defenders doesn’t it? That’s what they’re there for. I am by no means a trophy-hound and I love the way we play but if Le Boss sticks with what we’ve got and we wind up with just a lot of ‘nearly’ at the end of the season it’ll be a great big pie-in-the-face for him and no one else.
    In the meanwhile well done the lads for getting us to Carling Cup semis again.

  24. I don’t think we should take what the manager, or any manager for that matter, says about transfers as gospel. Buying a defender would probably depend on Vermaelen’s injury. When he says we don’t have space he probably means the midfield and that’s actually true. We are loaded with midfield players. Strikers can’t get a game at the moment. The only place he’ll buy is probably defense. And as always, he’s gonna be on the lookout for a bargain in any position, should the opportunity arise.
    Ideally, we should also have another Song type tackler in midfield. Any idea when Frimpong’s coming back into action?

  25. @Bill – I was not referring to RVP with the ACCURATE passes statement I made earlier, but to the rest of them(Vela, Walcott, Chamakh and B52). They could certainly work on that, but for now, their passing is utter rubbish.

  26. its nice seeing arsenal winning this game but my say is that wenger should put moore effort so that we can have the carling cup trophy and more this season

  27. I don’t want to sound cocky but we are going to win this for sure. I think it will be Arsenal 4- Birmingham 1 in the final 🙂

  28. @Ali

    Lol.. Easy… I mean you. Not that it’s going to be easy. We are the Arsenal remember. we never make it easy for ourselves 🙂 Anyway. Right now the focus has to be on the league. Bigger fish to fry and all that…

  29. A bit of an aside…but maybe Russia’s 2018 WC bid victory will now force Arshavin to play more consistently well. He is the face of Russian football to much of the world, given that he’s at Arsenal, and now has to show that Russia is a true footballing country.

  30. Am not in favor of chamka being our main striker but i would sure prefer him than vanpercy
    The way some of you guys rate vanpercy people would think he is world class he is a good player and that’s it FULL STOP. You can’t rate a man who has been injured so much vanpercy is a liability. And if that mook wenger replaces chamaka from the starting lineup based on a so called reputation that would be sad.
    Vanpecy i have some advise for you you want your starting place back earn it or ask the dutch fa to help you you give them more time that you do arsenal so go play for them or else show you deserve it BOB!!
    By the way and i hope i don’t jinxs the boys our first trophy SO SO SO SO close i said before the start of the season i would take the carling cup sure hell i would………….

  31. Kel. I would have to say that Van Persie IS a world class player (he gets injured a lot tho which hurts his status) His stats from last year are 18 apps 10 goals and 7 assists. Even tho he missed half the season when he was playing he was very very productive.

  32. Bill how do you rate people world class that’s a big tag there is no way someone can prove to me that robin vanpecy is a world class player he has a fantastic technique but to say he is a world class player i think your biased.

  33. When he’ s hot, he’s hot, RvP that is, remember last spring when he almost singlehandedly turned the spuds match around despite only 20 minutes on late? However, he has missed way too much time no matter what the reason, and this season, he has not contributed at all, perhaps even negatively the few times he has come on. If anything showed the folly of national team football, it was today’s WC draw, and do we remember RvP’s Drogba moments for the orange?. Negative? Maybe? Realistic? Definitely.

  34. I almost felt persie is a liability cause he hasnt helped us so much but wait a minute , he is a deadly finisher at his best and he is the player who wont leave so many chances go begging. The last time arsenal ever won chelsea at the bridge he just needed two moments of brilliance to add to Scolaris depature. He mastered the last win arsenal had at Old trafford before Henry killed off the game. He is a big game player and fearless compared to any other mediocre strikers we have around. He is the best freekick taker the team has. Remember we hardly get anything from our set pieces if he TV/ VP is not there. He puts in the masterly and craft in freekicks.He puts in passion for the team as he losses temper when the team is loosing. You just cant even compare him to Chamak.If not for injuries this guy is a top player and i think Tores the most complete striker in the world beats him by speed and headers only.

  35. Well that’s the whole point in here a world class player is one who has all the attributes including remaining injury free, this he doesn’t have unfortunately that’s why he always be second best to the likes of rooney or toress. Each time he seems to be getting back to his best there you go there is an injury which keeps him out min 3 months, else he gets it on intl duty, its him who needs to keep himself injury free if not players like vela will go up in the pecking order and persie might become 4th choice all of a sudden

  36. That is plagiarism Anthony.. That too of a piece I don’t agree with. Anyway, if Andrew’s around you’re probably gonna get banned. Bye.

  37. Can someone please remind me when last Robin Vanpercy scored a free kick
    its been so long i wish you good luck……….

  38. Untold Arsenal is certainly popular with people around here isn’t it?

    Andrew, when’s the article on the defense that you were compiling coming? I’m very interested to see what you come up with. Commiserations on the World Cup bid as well. It would have been fun in Australia i think.

  39. @Ian, great bit of analysis!

    Of the open play goals, what percentage are on an immediate counter attack, like Bale’s goal at Emirates, for example? Closest Arsenal defender marking (or failing to mark)/close down the goal scorer?

  40. Copy paste jobs should be allowed if he/she is the author, but not acknowledging the author really amounts to plagiarism. It costs you nothing to acknowledge some other persons work afterall you just want to inform others. Besides, what do you gain when you get banned? I wonder how many people copy my work then if this is the case.

  41. Utd game off today so great chance to go top this evening….Tim Cahill will run riot at Stamford Bridge today…..come on boys!
    anyone know where I can our the game online?

  42. @Nonny – Are u trying to say u copy my stuff elsewhere? I’ll sue you to ur last penny….lol

    @Shambo – I cant help you there, we dont even have that kind of streaming bandwidth to watch live stuff. Is it that there’s no dedicated channel?
    Hope u can see it though, we rely on Satellite stations over here. Very reliable.
    Cheers to topping the table

  43. @andrew can you tell me why my blogs are not getting through of late i cant seem to make contact. And when it does i have to type in all the name e-mail web details all over again for the next comment. Is this how the system works now. Please help.

  44. @shambo, wats up my man. You dont need to thank us ammers for giving your lot its first cup for 5 years.
    Mr Wengers comments about transfers in the january transfer window shows that he has not learned anything about your recent home form. I still say the team needs 2 or 3 new strong players to make it more defensively efficient.
    happy christmas to all. Up de ammers.
    @andrew will you please give me some info about why im having problems getting through to this web site most of the time.

  45. @Ice,
    How you keepin pal?
    1-1 at half time, we just cant keep clean sheets in the league, we need to come out all guns blazing second half

  46. Everything I said was completely true. The coach brought in RVP today as a central support striker. It could work, but he really has a lot of tactical tinkering to day. Chamakh was rubbish again, laying up a pass for a midfielder to shoot

  47. @ice – I thought I was the only one experiencing problems
    @Shambo – Are u seeing the game? Or just the scores?

  48. I will kill them if they ruin Nasri’s magnificient performance in stoppage time, I can’t watch it ……. 😎

  49. We hung on again to go top of the table. Nasri is on peak form right now. Now what about Djourou? That guy is better to me than the new boys. He is on some good form right now

  50. Terrific win by the squad! Obviously, Nasri is MOTM, but if there is a Man of the Half, I think that would have to be Djourou.

    Also fantastic to see Arshavin put in a full 90 minutes. He was all over the pitch and gave great effort.

  51. @gunnerboss,
    Saw the second half, I thought we were very lucky, there was nothing happening until that moment of Nasri magic and Fulham looked the more likely to score but this is a huge result for us….I told you wed be top today and we are, I’d just like us to be a bit more convincing though, especially at home……we concede too many goals and even more alarmingly we concede too many chances, but for a great reaction save from Fabianski from a Gera shot with 5mins left it could have been a different story.
    It seemed a strange game and for 15 mins of that second half Fulham were well on top and I was wondering where Nasri actually WAS but then he got switched to Rosickys central role and made the difference and made that goal for himself after great composure from RvP, who had been totally inneffective since being brought on prior to that telling contribution…like I said great result but you still feel there is loads of room for improvement and there will have to be if we are to be in the race when it matters….Chamakh, Arshavin and Clichy were very sloppy at times today, there has to be consistancy individually for there to be consistancy as a team and I have some major doubts over how ruthless the afore mentioned are, to be champions you have to be ruthless, if we can instill this apect in our team-play then we will give some teams a right spanking and it will become a good habit to bring into the big games such as the upcoming one vs Utd where I have no doubts we can come out as winners.
    Chelsea are really struggling now and it just shows you how vital it is to capitalise on your rivals slip-ups because the result will hurt them but its the emphasis put on their next games, away to Spurs, Utd at home and then they come to our place, that will really put the pressure on, they will be asking questions of themselves and that can only be a good thing for us, if we can beat Utd away and avoid defeat at home to Chelsea then we are in a great position.
    Heres hopin……

  52. the center-half partnership is still far from convincing….it was the collision of the two central defenders that actually presented Fulham with the opportunity for their goal.
    Perhaps a Squillaci-Djourou pairing is better for us & we have to stick with that for the Utd game. It will also be wise to opt for Denilson at the expense of Wilshere & instruct him to sit in front f the back 4 all the time b/c Song doesn’t look like to be in the mood to do his usual defensive duties.
    Upfront we should start with RvP playing in the hole behind Chamakh (Rosicky is doing well but the fact is that we won’t get goals from him).

  53. forgot to mention Nasri….two moments of individual brilliance!!!! This guy is immense!
    His 2nd goal will be voted goal of the season come May!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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