Arsenal are through to the last 4 of the Carling Cup after dispatching Wigan 2-0. A comfortable, if not wasteful, performance, with the most interesting part of the match being Arsenal fit 4 strikers, Carlos Vela, Robin Van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott into the team.
With Cesc Fabregas out, and with Arsenal playing 2 games a week, resulting in Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky being rested, the role that Fabregas has been playing, behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1, was open. That role was filled by Van Persie, who has played off the striker for Arsenal and Holland. Last year, Van Persie played as a false 9, so his link up play is very good. However, because he is a striker, Arsenal at times looked like they were playing a 4-2-4, which is something that occurred last year, when Cesc Fabregas was pushed higher up behind Nicklas Bendtner.
Wigan, lining up in their traditional 4-2-3-1 did not threaten Arsenal that much; on the break, they were poor, with their attacks easily broken up by Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny. They certainly didn’t threaten the Arsenal defence, exposed by the top-heaviness of the team, and they were relatively easy to play through. Only poor finishing prevented Arsenal from winning by a higher margin.
One characteristic of the front four that played yesterday is that they all have excellent movement, and yesterday rotated between the front four positions superbly. One of the moves of the first half, when van Persie played Vela in, came when the Mexican took up the front role as Bendtner drifted wide. Walcott, who had been taking up front positions against Newcastle and Shakhtar, tended to stay closer to the flanks today, but Vela, van Persie and Bendtner all shifted, with Vela having a fairly good game when he played behind the front man, with 2 fantastic passes. Indeed, it was Vela who laid on the final ball for Bendtner to finish the second goal, after a quick break from Wilshere, who found van Persie in space, who linked up well with Vela.
One interesting thing to note was although van Persie dropped deep to protect the midfield, there was not the usual midfield rotation that we see, and thus Denilson and Wilshere were not able to get forward as much as they usually do.
All in all, a comfortable result for Arsenal, who must be fancying there chances to end their 5 year trophy drought. Perhaps more importantly though, this match saw the return of Robin van Persie, and also saw he could play in the role behind the front man, and link up with Chamakh, Nasri and Arshavin if Cesc Fabregas is to be unavailable. With important matches coming up against Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, this might be the best result of this match.