The way I see it - Arsenal v Wigan Athletic

Last updated : 17 September 2009 By Jason Hogan

Sadly for us though, all the headlines surrounded City's win and in particular our former number 25.

To be honest, I cannot really be arsed to talk too much about our Togolese ex-player. If I were to go down that route, I fear that the sheer level of increased animosity I have towards him will not allow me stop talking about him. Too much of a waste of time and energy methinks

The one thing I will say, borne out of fact, is that our former number 25 has paid a price for his cowardly piece of spite on the day. And the price he pays could get even higher for his own perceived sense of vindication. All of this couldn't happen to nicer guy.

Looking back the game itself, all the old failings rose to the surface. We looked OK with the ball but we were (particularly in the mad ten-minute spell we had with about 15 minutes to go) terrible without it.

It was like watching a young school team. Sure, we were willing to go forward when we had the ball but when we didn't have the ball we didn't have a clue how to defend. The first goal was bad enough although admittedly it was unfortunate from our point of view. But whilst the other three goals were well taken, the fact is a fair few teams from the lower leagues would have converted the chances Arsenal served up.

Look at the second goal. Alex Song is no full back I grant you but the combination of Song all but waving Micah Richards through to pass square to a totally unmarked Craig Bellamy was nothing short of cringe worthy.

Gael Clichy on the other hand IS a full back - or at least he supposed to be. But this lad is all over the place at the minute. His part in City's third goal was significant. First, he makes a rash challenge on Wright- Phillips, SWP recovers, quickly gets to his feet and the ref plays advantage. Clichy, in trying to recover his position, fails to stop the cross coming in and our former number 25 is left in acres of space to nod the ball in from eight yards.

As for the fourth goal, well words fail me. Wenger labelled us defensively shaky. Defensively embarrassing was nearer to the mark. The press and the media may have used this result to herald the rise of a new force but to be honest, a fair few teams would have beaten us on Saturday given the way we defended and they probably wouldn't have cost in excess of £200 million or anywhere near it to bring together either.

Still, in the midst of Arsenal's largely self inflicted agony, there was a semblance of a silver lining. Tomas Rosicky made his return to the side and duly scored. I am personally chuffed to see the lad making his comeback particularly as some Gooners had given up for dead. Let's hope that Rosicky remains fit and well for the rest of the season - though given his injury track record, I say that with no intention of holding my breath.

On my way into work on Tuesday, I was pleased to read more news that was good yet, at the same time, rather surprising. Eduardo has had his ban rescinded. Though I was initially stunned at this turn of events, my strong suspicion is that the reversed decision is motivated in the main by UEFA's desire to put the lid back on the can of worms they had opened in the first place and avoid being submerged by a deluge of similar cases which would have inevitably arisen had the original decision been upheld.

To tell you the truth, my feelings on this are rather mixed. Yes, I was miffed that Eduardo was effectively singled out for sanctioning when there are loads of players who have got away with similar offences without suffering the merest hint of a reproach.

But I was more then unimpressed with the Crozillian's actions and the fact that he brought an avalanche of negative publicity crashing down on Arsenal which the club simply did not need. And for that reason alone, I personally think that the ban should have stood not to mention the fact that the ban would have sent out a message to players that indulge in this form of cheating run the risk of meeting the same fate.

I bet Standard Liege will spend the next fortnight until they play again cursing UEFA and Eduardo's miraculous Houdini-style escape from being banned after Wednesday night's carry on in Belgium.

And what a carry-on it was. Sad as this may sound, I love the old Carry On films and the late Sid James is one of my life heroes. But not even he could get close to whipping up the kind of comical capers I saw in the first five minutes on Wednesday night.

To be honest, I just feel too embarrassed to even talk the events of the first five minutes. My old buddy Gazza sent me text about ten minutes into the game saying "Can you believe this shit?" I replied instantly saying "Yes, I could actually, mate. It says it all really when you think about it!"

And, as for the first 45 minutes as a whole, well I have seen the Arsenal play some stinkers over the last 20-odd years or so but, my god, the first half in Belgium took some beating. The second half was better, not by a particularly massive margin but we won, I suppose and any kind of alternative would have been as humiliating as anything I can remember.

In the cold light of day after the night before I found myself trying to put the game into context and I found myself lurching between two stools. I mean, if you were to place positive spin on the game or take the result at face value then one would say to come back from two-nil down away from home in Europe with a depleted squad is no mean feat.

But that stance almost looked flippant when you look at the game in a wider context and think about the big picture you would think firstly that if we were playing a better team on the night we would have been on the wrong end of a hiding and secondly, again given our performance, we have not got a cat in hells chance of winning this or any trophy outright.

Jamie Redknapp, of all people, pedalled a post-match theory that we were hungover from Saturday's game. Who would have thought it? I thought I had drunk too much whisky and some of my faculties had completely deserted me for a second. Redknapp, peddling a mitigation theory on behalf of Arsenal? Maybe Christmas is coming early this year and I didn't know because he is not normally in the habit of offering up peace and goodwill to Arsenal's men.

But I never bought into that theory. If I did, I would then be involuntarily giving food to the wildly held belief that we are a team that doesn't handle adversity too well. Now some may say that is being in denial but hey, it's my denial and it's for me to live with and nobody else.

You know, there was a time when I didn't have a care in the world as Arsenal fan. There was a time, somewhere around this point last season when I had resigned myself to seeing Arsenal have an up and down season. Either way, I had some kind of definite idea as to what sort of season we were gonna have. Right now, I don't have a bloody clue what sort of season we will end up having and that is the god's honest truth.

The fact that the future for Arsenal is not mine to see almost feels like a blessing sometimes but at the same time that doesn't mean that I am entirely at peace with myself Arsenal fan these days - not by a long chalk.

Anyway, it's time to look forward to Saturday and our league game at The Grove where the Gunners will entertain Wigan.

I never thought I would see the day when a proud old bloke like Dave Whelan, who is as northern as a plate of chips and gravy, would entertain the idea of having a foreign manager on his payroll.

But hey, what do I know? In the wake of Steve Bruce's umpteenth managerial defection to Sunderland, Whelan went out and acquired the services of Spaniard Roberto Martinez this summer.

Football, bloody hell, eh? I should not be surprised by anything in football after all these years but his appointment at Wigan was one that came not just out of left field, it came from another stratosphere.

Martinez is no mug punter though. Anyone who paid the remotest attention to the work he did at Swansea will surely testify to that and now the likeable Spaniard finds himself in the top flight plying his trade in the Premier League and pitting his wits against our own Arsene.

It has been a chequered start to life at Wigan and in the top flight for Martinez. A fabulous win at Villa was then succeeded by a definite rocky patch. But last time out, Wigan saw off West Ham at home and they would have gone into the international break feeling a whole lot better about themselves.

As far as dangermen go, you have to look at the matchwinner against West Ham for starters. I really like the look of the kid Rodallega. His first six months over here were nothing to write home about in terms of scoring goals but I really like his attitude. The kid is hungry, fast and feeling more at home with the English game all the time.

Jason Scotland is another lad to watch out for. He is the archetypal big bustling forward and he served Martinez well down at Swansea. He is very similar in style to Jason Roberts and in general, he is the sort of player that is well capable of causing the Arsenal defence a problem. I would also watch out for Charles N'Zogbia too. He can be erratic at times but if has a going day then he could Sagna or Eboue all the problems they could handle.

Wigan have fair bit of pace at their disposal in those three and given our recent defensive problems it will be interesting to see how we handle them particularly on the counter attack.

By nature, Martinez sends his teams out to play and attack. Buoyed by the generosity we have shown defensively this year, I would be amazed if Wigan came and set themselves up with 10 men behind the ball.

Whatever I may think of Arsenal's form right now, the fact is they did chalk one up in the win column in midweek. I hope that we can put that same chalk to positive use once again on Saturday.