Wenger admits will to win overcomes familiar failings
Wigan A 0 Arsenal 1:There is no sense of panic at Wigan Athletic despite a defeat that condemns them to a place in the Premier League’s bottom three at Christmas. Arsenal’s ups and downs are rarely viewed with the same perspective but three successive victories leave Arsene Wenger’s side well placed in the league table after a difficult December.
Wenger said Arsenal’s performance on Saturday was “more determined than dominant” after Mikel Arteta’s 60th-minute penalty secured a win that puts the defeat at Bradford City firmly behind them.
“Let’s not go overboard,” he said. “I believe, as much as we don’t have to be over-depressed after what happened, we have to keep our feet on the ground and focus on the next game.
“In the end the will was there to win it and the domination was not maybe convincing but we got the three points. It is important in the season that you win these kinds of games as well.”
An Arsenal defeat is often met with accusations of effete while victories usually spark epithets of eminence. This display was somewhere in between, not a performance of vintage quality but one that demonstrated resilience when under pressure for large parts of the game.
Arteta’s winning goal was the result of a challenge on Theo Walcott by Jean Beausejour. Wigan’s injuries in central defence persuaded their manager, Roberto Martinez, to line up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Beausejour dropping to left-back, but the Chile international endured a torrid afternoon. Often exposed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Beausejour’s natural attacking instincts left him woefully out of position on numerous occasions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had the first opportunity of the match but his low shot was palmed away by Ali al-Habsi at the near post.
The best chance of the first half fell to Wigan’s Arouna Kone following a wonderful pass from Franco Di Santo but, despite running clear of Per Mertesacker, he dragged his finish wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s goal. The referee, Jon Moss, awarded the penalty after an hour in controversial circumstances when Walcott softly went down after minimal contact from Beausejour.
Martinez was optimistic on Wigan’s chances of another great escape this season. “It is not a position that we want to be in but the truth is that in this league you have to fight for every game until the end of the season and that will never change for us,” he said.