Roberto Martinez, their 'gaffer' as the Latics website bizarrely refers to him, is probably the most exciting thing happening at Wigan right now. But whether even he can turn a group of fairly moderate footballing journeymen into a class footballing act is another matter.
Could there be a less inspiring or more pointless nickname than the Latics? Seems that this is some sort of northern corruption of the word Athletic which could just as easily apply to Oldham as Wigan. Not many people know this and unsurprisingly even fewer care. Other than how pathetically few fans they'd be bringing with them for this latest fixture the only vaguely intriguing thing about Wigan is to see their 'Honours' board that proudly proclaims: Auto Windscreens Shield Trophy Winners 1999 & Freight Rover Trophy Winners 1985. Honours? Just how exactly does Le Boss motivate the uninjured cream of Arsenal's crop to play against such moderate outfits?
It'll be nice for Arsene if we ever get back to having a fully fit squad to select from, but in the mean time Robin returned to the fold and the starting eleven pretty well picked themselves. Eduardo played left, Robin down the middle and Eboue right on this sunny afternoon. We kicked towards the Clock End in the first half where a pitiful number of Wigan fans didn't come close to even half filling their section.
We didn't exactly fire on all cylinders from the off but we did pretty well boss the game throughout. Mr M Jones didn't have a difficult game to manage but his fussiness and inability to allow any advantages did no one any favours. Our first attack came from Clichy down the left and our second when Robin spun on a ball and fired over. Another decent move early doors ended with Eboue's cross. Gallas was called upon to make a fine saving tackle and he rather worryingly looked as if he might have pulled something in doing so, but soon recovered. Robin won a corner and soon after Eduardo had a header hacked off their line.
Diaby with a shot that was all power and no accuracy sailed over. Robin, who was drifting deep combined with Edurado who put Eboue in but he fired over. Eboue was lively and making some fine runs. There was one great ball to Eboue from Gallas(?) who slipped one inside for Robin but his effort went the wrong side of the post, seemingly off his shin. Prior to this Robin had put a free kick just wide of the post with Kirkland well beaten and Gallas had seen a header cleared off the line.
Boyce was putting himself about a bit but Mr Jones preferred words to cards. Except when a great cross came over from Eduardo out on the left and Eboue tried to bat it into the net with his hand. Going down clutching his head was a waste of time given how obvious it had been and the yellow card duly followed. Rodallega whacked Gallas but Wigan continued to remain card free.
A van Persie header reached Eduardo whose shot was deflected for a corner. From Robin's inswinging corner the Verminator leapt like a salmon and powered home with a header to net his third of the season. 1-0 Arsenal.
Freekick followed freekick to the Arsenal and the play remained pretty well all at the one end. Robin to Eboue, shot wide. Wigan did have one flurry but some good blocking, mediocre clearances and a wide overhead shot was all that came of it. Song got booked for a fairly robust tackle but his foul count nowhere near matched that of some of the men in blue and white stripes. Ironic cheers from the Wigan fans greeted the card, but surely both of them must have realised that their team needed possession to win a free kick.
Wigan finally won a corner after some scrappy defending by the men in red. Eduardo countered in a move that saw Robin almost put Eboue through but Kirkland saved at Eboue's feet. A late chance for Robin and Eduardo came close but it looked a tad offside anyway. We'd probably deserved more than a goal lead at the break but I suppose it was something or a rarity that we'd gone 45 minutes without conceding.
There were still no advantages being played in the second half and a breaking move from our Belgium TV man involved some good work from Eboue who slipped a ball inside for him to show us a sample of his shooting ability. A goal all the way with a well struck tasty left-footed drive that hit the top-corner. There was no chance for Kirkland against the Verminator. 2-0 Arsenal and effectively game over on 49 minutes.
The rest of the match was largely about going through the motions, giving Rosicky more match time, not overstretching Eduardo and letting Ramsey stretch his legs. We coasted for most of the time and I can't say I blame them. Cesc was limping by the end of the match, which was a concern, but it may just have been the gash he received from some nameless twat at Eastlands that came to light again, he was certainly feeling his shin in any case.
Our third came from either Eduardo or Eboue. Following a Gael Clichy run Eduardo struck a fine shot against the post that rebounded out into the box but was only partially cleared. When Ed had a second crack at it his shot looked goalbound but hit Eboue's lower leg on the way through and deflected just enough for our Ivorian to run away claiming the goal. Most of our team however ran to celebrate with Eduardo, but at the very least Eboue can claim two assists today in an impressive performance. The announcer credited Eduardo. Watch the replays and make your own mind up who scored.
There was a fabulous Solo by Song which saw him fire one in at the end of it that just clipped the wrong side of the upright. Rosicky replaced Diaby who'd had a reasonable game, as did they all, but Abou is still wont to lose possession in dangerous areas too much for my liking. Bramble fouled van Persie for yet another free kick which Cesc slipped to Robin on the edge of the area but the chance was wasted as van Persie misskicked. Next a shot well saved from Eduardo. Than an Eduardo cutback to find Ramsey whose rising drive deflected off a head for yet another corner.
A double substitution for Arsenal as Eboue and Eduardo were replaced by Bendtner and Rosicky. Melchiot appeared to claim that he wasn't holding onto to Rosicky's shirt at one point, but the fact that Tomas found his shirt in shreds and ripped up to the armpit suggested otherwise. Doesn't say much for Nike's quality though. Wigan thought they'd scored but it was an offside goal. This came shortly before a low Nicklas Bendtner cross from the right was tapped home by Cesc thanks to his well timed run. 4-0 was a fair enough scoreline and we continue to average over three a game in the league but it has to be said that Wigan were not all that. That said you can only roll over whatever is put in front of you and three points is still three points.
A couple of other things for some of you to learn about before I sign off. The first is: don't leave your season tickets at home because to acquire a replacement ticket for the day will cost you a tenner (as both Mart and Val found out today). The second is: do have a stroll around the outside of the ground by the Northbank bridge because the artwork to be seen there is well worth a gander. Also do have a stroll right around the inside of the lower tier concourse because it is really looking the part now. I especially like the programme wall, even if some of them are not quite to scale. But there's load more to see so do please enjoy the Arsenalisation on your next visit.