Arsenal 2 Wigan Athletic 1: One nil down again but we scrape a win

Last updated : 11 February 2007 By Brian Dawes

"Would you like the ball now?"
And yet at the end of the game it was Paul Jewell who was having a rant at the ref because the lump Husky didn't get a penalty when he lumbered into our box.

The first half was our usual story when up against a team we should be able to beat comfortably. We didn't go flat out, didn't carve them up and didn't create much in the way of openings. There was little for the sparse number of Wigan fans to cheer about either, other than a fine shot from Landzaat that was saved. Theo was doing well down the right against Baines who is a good player, extremely fast but a very lippy so and so. Hall should have been booked for doing Rosicky but got a long lecture instead. Henry shot from about 40 yards from the free kick but he's still not on song yet and it was never going to happen.

Rosicky had a couple of shots but neither were on target and our best chance came when the Beast found Walcott whose cross went past Rosicky but fell to Thierry who missed what appeared to be a good chance at the far post. Another Henry free kick was saved after Baptista had been held back. More good play and a cross from Walcott found Henry offside. Fabregas, who had a quite game today by his standards, found Rosicky whose cross was sliced inches away from the post by a defender.

Kolo attempted to get in front of a player to win the ball and received an inexplicable yellow card for his first foul of the game. To be honest it was hard to get too excited about playing Wigan and it seemed the team agreed with the crowd. Fine play on Wigan's right saw a cross come in that was partially deflected clear. It fell perfectly for Landzaat who hit a power driver into the top corner from about 25 yards out. A great goal, Lehmann had no chance, 0-1 Wigan. A great run from Bains followed soon after.

Dowd then went into away team mode as he missed a foul on Kolo, a nudge in the back on Clichy, a foul by Heskey on Fabregas and yet another shove on Henry. As the half drew to a close we allowed Heskey a fine chance that Lehmann finger-tipped onto the post and it bounced away. A great cross to the far post by Clichy saw Henry climb high but direct his header the wrong side of the post. Another good chance not converted. Arsenal were behind at home again at the break.

Timewasting started immediately the second half began and continued throughout. Hall took Rosicky out but Dowd employed the refs white stick ploy. He didn't seem overly bothered that Djourou had had his faced smashed sufficiently to take no further part in proceedings. Johan disappeared down the tunnel on Gary Lewin's advice clutching his face. Adebayor came on and Gilberto moved into our back four. Folon missed what looked a fairly easy chance.

Wigan had eleven men back as Theo won a free kick. Clichy went down in their box but there were too many players around him for me to see if he was tripped, the crowd behind the goal thought so though. Arsenal were pressing with some fairly controlled play when Baptista rushed his shot. Baines took out Walcott but appeared to be booked for moaning at Dowd rather than the foul. A decent Rosicky run but his shot was wide. Kirkland down after he was crashed into by his own player, he certainly hammed it up and made a five-course meal of it. Three Arsenal corners in quick succession and another great Clichy run.

Flamini and Aliadiere on to replace Hoyte and Walcott. A massive shout for handball in their box and an arm was certainly up. Clichy and Henry combined well on the left, Adebayor nets but its given as offside. I thought he was pretty level, certainly it was a very marginal call by the lino. Flamini and Baines take it in turns to foul each other before Heskey gets away when he looked to be offside and I think it was on this occasion that he was bundled over in the box by Flamini. It looked a penalty from distance.

When our equaliser came it was from Flamini's cross down the right. Mathieu may have been offside or certainly close to it but his cross was a good low one and with Henry about to tap home Hall beat him to it with an own goal. 1-1 and game on with nine minutes to play. Henry picked the ball up, showed it to Kirkland and said something I imagine along the lines of: "Try changing into brown shorts now you timewasting bar steward" for which he was booked. A ridiculous booking by Dowd given how much banter goes on in every game. If you can't give a bit of verbals then clearly every team should be down to about eight men by half time in every match. Rooney can tell refs to ‘feck off' at will but Henry can't have a go at Kirkland for being a time-waster. Ridiculous.

McCullough was booked for blatant timewasting, but it was no more blatant than what Wigan had got away with previously. Four minutes after our goal Rosicky was involved centrally as the ball was worked out to Baptista on the right who hit a stinging cross that Rosicky steamed in to head home from close range. 2-1 Arsenal and another yellow card, this one to Rosicky for celebrating his first Premiership goal I presume. Way to go Dowd.

Jens then did his own bit of timewasting in piss-take mode and was carded for his highly commendable impersonation of Kirkland. Kirkland was roundly jeered derisively when he now started rushing around at goal kicks. Three Wigan substitutions in the last three minutes had no effect on proceedings, but Fabregas was booked for a late tackle, Hall was booked for taking out Clichy and Clichy was then also booked but I'm not certain what for. Arsenal where attacking with three men against two and about to score when the final whistle went. The last ten minutes had been all action and include six yellow cards from the man who didn't know what he was doing.

I didn't notice any player from either side shake Dowd's hand at the end of the game but Paul Jewell can expect problems with the F A because he appeared to be telling him how crap he was. Something I'd been telling Dowd for most of the game. To receive six bookings from twelve fouls was clearly disproportionate refereeing. Still at least Dowd got some big names in his book and that's what really matters isn't it?