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Wigan vs. Arsenal

JJB Stadium

09/03/08

16:00

On Sky

Wigan V Arsenal Preview

It'll be quite a come-down for Arsenal when they visit Wigan on Sunday, after their historic win against AC Milan at the San Siro.

Although I find it hard to believe, Arsene Wenger insists his side will go into this game with as much hunger and desier as they took into the game against Milan.

Both teams have massive reasons to win the match. Wigan sit just two points and three places outside of the relegation zone with ten games to go.

For Arsenal it's a chance to go four points clear and slam all the pressure squarely on the shoulders of United and Chelsea.

Arsenal will have been boosted by the shock defeats of United and Chelsea. It'll no doubt damage the confidence of both teams, something Wenger will be delighted about with both teams snapping at the heels of Arsenal.

Arsenal may have made Milan look more like Milwall on Tuesday, but their form recent form gives us nothing to shout about. They've won only two of their last six games. Both were 2-0 wins, one over Milan, the other over Blackburn. There's also been a 4-0 stuffing at the hands of United at Old Trafford. Draws against Milan, Birmingham and Villa complete's Arsenal's last six results.

Like Arsenal, Wigan have won only two of their last six. Wins over West Ham and Derby has given them six prescious points in recent weeks. Boro, Chelsea and Sunderland have inflicted defeats of the Lactics in the last few weeks and they have just the one draw lately. A 0-0 with Manchester City.

Vital Quotes:

When asked if he would settle for a draw against Arsenal on Sunday Steve Bruce replied: 'We would take that now I am sure, especially after the performance that they produced at AC Milan in midweek.

'I was sitting watching and thinking it's as a good a performance as I have seen from a British team abroad.

'But that is the beauty of being in the Premier League - you get your moments against them.'




Wenger says that both teams have plenty to play for. The Arsenal boss also stated that he LIKES the fact that some places like Wigan have a poor playing surface: 'It will be a big test because they play not to go down. We expect a big commitment.

'They are under pressure like we are under pressure, so we are both in the same conditions.

'I've heard from reporters that their pitch is not like the Emirates. But I like England because to be champions here you have to go from Milan to Wigan - and win the game.

'It's a completely different kind of game but you have to find always a response to what you face.

"That's real quality for me.'

Wigan Team News:

Wigan have a full squad to choose from after Ryan Taylor (ribs) and Kevin Kilbane (foot) returned from injury.

Player to watch: Paul Scharner

The Austrian defender has been leading by example in recent weeks. He grabbed a goal against Derby a couple of weeks ago. He's also been in fine form at his own end of the pitch. He'll need to be on the very top of his game to stop Arsenal.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal have been boosted by the possible return of Kolo Toure (calf) and Alex Song (medial ligament) from injury.

However, Theo Walcott (thigh) and Abou Diaby (calf) have joined Tommy sick note and Eduardo on the injury list.

Robin Van Persie played an hour in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Colorado Rapids. Wenger was concerned about how tired Van Persie was, and says he will look at things on Sunday morning. Wenger said: 'Robin played an hour and he looks OK. But it [the Wigan game] looks early for him, he finished the game very tired so I will have to analyse that.'

Player to watch: Mathieu Flamini

The Frenchman didn't recieve enough praise for his epic performance in Milan. He seemed to pop up from nowhere and nick the ball.

Before the Milan game Wenger said that he would stick to his usual zonal marking policy. He just forgot to mention that Flamini's zone was the entire pitch!

Wigan will offer a scrappy game, something Flamini will be well up for. I've no doubt he'll not stop running as usual.

Match Facts & Stats

Ref Watch:

Rob Styles will (hopefully) take charge of proceedings on Sunday. His card count would suggest he is a reasonable man. He's dished out 3 red cards and 68 yellows in his 21 games this season. An average of 3.57 cards per game.

Match Prediction:

My own opinion, yet alone that of fans in general, is divided about this game. On the one hand we've just become the first English team to beat Milan in their own back garden, and put in one of the best footballing performances I have ever witnessed. On the other hand, Wign is quite a come down, and it'll be hard for the players to motivate themselves as they did in Milan. That combined with the facts that Wign are fighting for their Premiership survival, and the piss-poor pitch at the JJB means that Wign will be in with a shout. That said, I'm going to back Arsenal. 1-0 to The Arsenal. Adebayor to grab the only goal of a scrappy match.




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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 8 2008

Time: 9:11PM

Your Comments

The return of Toure is not a boost. Senderos is doing well. Toure's last two games have conceded 8 goals. He was comical against Egypt and terrible against manure. Wenger, pls dont feck with our defence. I reckon we would have lost to Milan had Toure played 180 mins.
Will-i-am10
Its a boost...cut Toure some slack dude...he was injured in the ACN..he is still a much better defende than Senderos
number14
Oh ***** .... the kiss of death from Simmo, he's worse than Lawro that ****!!! Lol
Rocky7
Noooo Simmo, not a win prediction, surely ! I'm actually a bit worried about this game - the lads have failed to turn up against some smaller sides this season, although we have done well enough to draw some of those games. This side (even with injuries) is good enough to beat Wigan - but do they want it ? I hope the answer is yes.
prits
Oh no, Simmo predicts a win... Please, please let's grab 3 points there. I don't care if it's a deflected goal or the uneven pitch that makes the ball roll right into the net. A win, we need a win!!
Lou the Gunneress
Don't worry we'll win but it is not going to be easy and we might have to wait till the last 10 min for the winning goal. As for toure letds give him more time to recover as he was injured during the last games at the african cup and at OT. Am I the only one on this forum to worry about this alleged comment by Eduardo that Taylor never visited him in the hospital as reported. If that is the truth then the english press has to eat one huge humble pie as they are the main movers behind the propaganda that Taylor is the victim here and has done everything in his power to put things right including a VISIT to eduardo in hospital. If one the other hand that he did visit then who is starting the rumors that he did not and to what purpos? The press again?
Armory
Theres no way Senderos should be dropped after his preformances agaisnt Milan. Yes Toure is our starting center back alongside Gallas, but I dont think Toure should have the divine right to be in the XI when fit. Just take what happened to Chelsea in the CC final. They gave Lampard and Terry the start coming back from injury over the in form Ballack and Alex and they payed for it.
gunnerkid107
I think Arsene's attitude will have rubbed off into the players. If Arsene says it will be a hard game, they better believe it. After all he's got right, they should. I expect them to be focussed on the task and I expect a good, efficient job. 2-0. Ade and Cesc.
ArsenalRob
Well we can't stuff this game up because we don't have a 5 point gap to fall back to now....i have no idea what the result will be, it will depend on how the players respond from the Milan win.
AB_Arsenal
3-0 for Arsenal... Ade, Flam and Hleb to score ... :-D
KnightOfARSENAL
prediction the ars by 3-0 and the wigan boys not happy because of a sending off
ozanne park rangers
let's make it a perfect weekend for us. our results vs wigan have been very impressive. 5 wins for Arsenal in the last 6 games vs wigan. hope to see RvP in action at some point and score a goal to boost his confidence.
fcdematthew
Simmo, now if we dun get three points tomm, i'm going to kill yu :p..
luckys_10
Hopefully, the fact that we played on Tuesday night and don't have to play until Sunday afternoon will give us the extra rest needed to be reasonably fresh. No excuses for Chelsea yesterday, but they were slightly flat. I just hope we can be more ruthless and put in a professional performace that just gets the win at any costs. At least the confidence is going to very high, and our superb performance at Milan may affect the Wigan players.
Gooner_Vin
Imagine the difference in mood and pressure going into this game had we lost in Milan! Media on our backs, writing us off, saying we're going to implode etc etc. And they're still doing it to a certain extent. The only person who really believes in the team 100% is...Arsene Wenger!
Gooner_Vin
3-1 to the Arsenal, and Heskey will definately have a huge fat arse so keep your eyes peeled for that. In fact, that may well explain why the pitch resembles a bomb site!
flv
I love the clever double-bluff here Simmo... You thought that if you said 2-1 to Wigan (while secretly expecting 2-0 to the Arsenal) Aunty Fate would punish you being presumptuous... so you said 1-0 to us instead! Good work if you know what I mean? (actually I think I lost myself there too!)
Andy-bayor
you'll stuff them
codbater
Simmo - If we don't get the win in the second half you'll be in trouble bucko!!!
Rocky7
It will be a travesty if we don't beat this lot but we need to step it up. The pitch is an absolute disgrace. Funny how Sky don't make a big deal about that but are happy to keep harping on about the Gallas incident at Birmingham.
Gooner_Vin
How many more arsenal players are gonna go down holding their face? Seriously its like watchin a team of drogbas lol
HuddersfieldYiddo
ur dead now simmo :p..
luckys_10
How disappointing though you can't fault their effort. Flamini again got through so much work. That pitch is a disgrace and I can honestly say that if it was better, we'd have won. Actually I think it's been a better weekend for Man U and Chavski than they think. They won't have any fixture congestion and they've gained in the league without even trying. We've now dropped 6 points in the last three games, ones we should not have been dropping points at given the teams in our run in. Advantage MAn Utd and I think their experience will get them the title now.
Gooner_Vin
not such a bad result against a team fighting for relegation, but Cesc should have played RVP in there at the end. and on the bright side, RVP looked quite good, so that is a plus. we will have to do it the hard way now. United still need to win the game in hand which is vs Bolton which won't be easy. i guess it will come down to the two games vs them and Chelski..
luckys_10
Simmo.... :(
Lou the Gunneress
and lads, the best positive from today...HAPPY TOTTERINGHAM DAY to you all, it's arrived so early for the first time since 2005, so the day is not that bad :d..
luckys_10
just looked at the fixtures, after next week, we just have 3 home games in the last 8. so three points next week is a must now. the title race is really hotting up now..
luckys_10
The pitch and the ref aren't what I'd blame. But they did play a part in it. Our players looked jaded. And why we kept insisting on the passing game, I don't know. With that potato field of a pitch, we could have used a bit more long balls and crosses, which was hard I know, without width in our squad. Luckys, I don't think RvP looked 'quite good' tbh, but I'm glad he and Kolo came through it unscathed. Worried about Gallas though, he's limping a little bit.
Lou the Gunneress
Ade is turning into an andy cole now.
fcdematthew
Very, very disapointed.
Gooner_Vin
Out of our hands now and United have been given the initiative back without even trying. I think if you do that at at this stage of the season against a team like United, then they won't need any second invitations.
Gooner_Vin
We needed to win that game, but it is not all lost. We sincerely need good depth in all areas. Our sub list appart from RVP gave me no buzz. It's getting tougher for us, but I think we can still win the league this year.
phreddy
The problem's also that now ManU and Chelsea will work extra hard, and can afford to, on PL and CL. Sounds like 2-3 of the top 4 clubs will end this season empty-handed. It's a great title race for neutrals, but for us, fasten our seatbelts for a roller-coaster ride..!
Lou the Gunneress
Gooner Vin it is still in our own hands. we win all our remaining 9 games, we are champions. United will drop points trust me, yu may laugh at this but when the pressure is on, even Derby next week won't be easy for them, and then Bolton will be even tougher, and then Liverpool. they play three league games now before we play our next two, so the pressure is all on them now..
luckys_10
Man utd wont drop points soon, but they will drop points. Esp when they have chelsea, bburn away and then us all in a row. Poor pitch and poor result but its not over. We were the last team to win at Stamford bridge and we'll be the next...and as for OT, i cant wait. This title is ours, we're gonna win it ppl.
ian7
On a slightly more positive note, Happy St Totts Day!
Lou the Gunneress
i share your optimism ian. this title is so ours. after every league game, i think about the 89 season, but then again, i really dont want us to make things that interesting heheh..
luckys_10
lucky_10, manure and chelski may drop points, but Arsenal look the most likely team to drop more points. based on the last 3 PL games, my confidence is slowly fading. we gotta start winning again. as for players who are not playing well, please do not be afraid to take them off. Hleb gave way too many passes away, adebayor and flamini too. probably becoz we have no quality players on the bench.
fcdematthew
We seem to be doing our best to not win the title. Very bad games for Adebayor & Hleb. Adebayor should have been taken of as Bentdner was slightly better. I said before the Birmingham game that we need 10-12 points from the next 4. The best we can do now is 6 if we beat Boro. We then have a run of Chelsea, Liverpool, Bolton & Man U. If we do it we will have to do it the hard way. First of we need to get some players back as alot of players are looking tired and jaded.
paul_ownz
Disappointed with the draw, which was what we deserved honestly. Didnt create enough, and the finishing wasnt upto the mark when we did (Ade,Cesc in one on ones with Kirkland). The defence largely had a good game, and I'm pleased to see Sendy extend his good run, but I'm struggling to find positives out of this performance. ManU certainly have a tough fixture, but we also have Chelsea, ManU, Liverpool & everton coming up, so not a walk in the park for us as well.
prits
i can understand your concern mathew, but yu have to admit we were very unlucky vs brum and also last week with the own goal. and Hleb gave away a few passes on the left but he was still the main attacking threat. and had Fabregas seen RVP right at the end, things would have been so different. but we really cant afford to drop anymore points considering that, we will have only 3 home games in our last eight, and by the time we take on Chelsea, United can open up a four point gap. the worrying signs are there, but i have full faith in Arsene and the boys to get over this blip and bounce back next week..
luckys_10
if we do not win the PL title this season, please let us celebrate the UCL title, please...
fcdematthew
I thought the PL was our best chance of a trophy this season cos you need some luck to win the Champions League. I've looked at the remaining fixtures for both us and Man Utd and calculated that we will end up on 87 points and they will end up on 86!
Gooner_Vin
All is not lost. (1) The 6-pointers will be key now. ManU didn't play badly at all yesterday and they lost at home to Pompey who had a very strong and stubborn defence and a bit of luck. Who says we couldn't do it? Milan tells us we could beat anyone on our day. The key's to prepare the players and be 'on our day.' We also do much better against big teams. I for one think we should stay confident going away to OT and SB. (2) ManU told us before and yesterday that they aren't as 'invincible' as the press make of them. (3) This is almost the worst we have in terms of injuries, we'll hopefully have people back from now on. I just pray Gallas is ok! (4) It's not due to complacency or lack of effort that we drew today. They're clearly jaded - Cesc, Flam, Ade, Clichy, Gallas, Senderos, Sagna, Hleb hardly missed any games these 2 months. Our squad's thin and they're just tired. We'll have 1 game/week until 1st April, where we should get some of our energy back. Er, just wanted to give you my best shot of encouragement.. This is where our support counts, stay optimistic!
Lou the Gunneress
win the next game to make us believe again! come on Arsenal!
fcdematthew
for the next PL game, we will have Eboue back. hope he will bring us luck. we have always done better when we have him in our PL games so far.
fcdematthew
Matthew you're right, we must win the next game to get back on track. You know the main thing that worries me from today (apart from my constant worry about the injuries) is that this series of results have given our opponents hope/belief that they can get 1 point against us and so aren't afraid of us. So we have to kill Boro at home next week.
Lou the Gunneress
iceman_10: "we'll go four points clear tomm and then catch us if yu can scumbags"
united4life
fran merida: "f u ck all fu c k all **** all and united will win **** all...and the poor cockney reds are going out of their heads coz united will win f u ck alllllllll"
united4life
...you make this too easy for me you arrogant gooner fools. oh and btw, wheres the match report you slated us for not producting one in "seconds" so wheres yours. wheres all your optimism? feking tools!
united4life
Not the best performance, and another two dissapointing points dropped... but Happy St. Tott's day anyway... !!!!
grovesy14
muppets!!!!! let me down on my coupon.
dspurs64
Adebayor isn't as good as he thinks he is, goals from midfield all but vanished since Freddie and Bobby left, Zero cutting edge compared to United. I understand the league isn't lost yet but United will have to be very bad not to overtake us. Just one year to soon
VanPersie11
This has been a confusing season for me. Thought Chelsea would win the FA Cup-we won't. Thought that Arsenal spent all this time without dropping points, and with so few games left, they wouldn't lose focus. Thank god that I don't have mo..eeer, thank god that I'm not a betting man.
k_chelski
U4L check ur facts coz it wasnt me who said that!
iceman10
Well.. it did look like we had some sort of a "hangover".. although I think that Adebayor should have scored from one of those two superb chances. The pitch was appalling and all that.. but one of the consolations I get is that Man Utd have to go there on the last day of the season.. and I'm pretty darn sure that both the teams will be in it until then.. but watch out for the weekend of 23rd March.. cuz the BPL could very well be decided (or muddled further) on that day!
arsenalrulz4ever
I'm passing the buck. It's not my fault, it's all those gits that were "getting fed up of negative predictions." So if we lose the title now, it's their fault.
simmy8_2000
just go back to your negative predictions and let us win the league
paul_ownz
Damn you simmo :P. You're not getting away that easily.
prits
Guys, just slightly off the subject. I'm beginning to think that our version of 4-5-1 works could work better for us than the 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1 if you like) that we use against the so called, 'weaker teams'. The problem is 4-5-1 has a negative defensive ring to it but with the way we utilize it, it comes across at completely the opposite, turning a defensive shell into a quick attacking 4-3-3 in the blink of an eye. I think that 4-5-1 just seems to offer more protection to our creative players. Any thoughts?
flv
I think it has worked very well at different times this season. And it certainly works better than having to play Ade & Bedntner together. I think if everyones fit then 4-4-2 with Rosicky on the left, Hleb on the right with RVP & ade up front is the best.
paul_ownz
If not RVP then Eduardo. But we wont be seeing that for a while.
paul_ownz
touche u4l....thanks for the mention,its nice to know that im getting under your skin.....
fran merida
 

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