The weeks are coming round so fast, and this week it was the turn of the guys at The Short Fuse to answer my questions, as we dive head first into this weekend’s encounter with Arsenal. In the past this fixture has proven to be a very enjoyable one, for Wigan. A dramatic 2-2 draw last year, and who will ever forget the 3-2 in Martinez’s first season.
Is there more to come?After summer where the signings you wanted weren’t very forth coming, do you think Arsene Wenger is sticking too much to his view of not buying player instead bring in the youth?
I think on August 30th, many Arsenal supporters may have felt that way. On September 1st, after he made a boatload of signings, many bemoaned the quality of the players he brought in, but no longer could reasonably complain that he was emphasizing youth too much (Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos, and Benayoun are all quite veteran players, for instance). It was not clear at that time, though, that the players he bought would be able to challenge for top honors, but now that they’ve had a couple of months together, I think most people are happy with the way that the signings have blended together with the younger players like Walcott, Ramsey, and Song. It’s the mixture of youth and experience that many have been wanting all along, now, really.You didn’t start the season off well, what for you was the problem?
For me, it was two things: a team that had learned to work almost solely through Cesc Fabregas had to find out how to play without their captain, and by August 31, our squad was paper-thin. After that, the new players had to build some chemistry. I think that was mainly it—now that they’ve developed some understanding and a set of tactics that work better for who the team has, things look much better.Robin Van Persie is in fantastic form recently, if he wasn’t in your side at the moment, would anyone be able to step in and fill his boots?
Sadly, nobody in the current side could. I’d like to think Park could do okay, but I think there’s a handful of players on earth who could score 35-40 goals in the league in this side in one year (and Marouane Chamakh, poor lad, isn’t one of them).A younger looking Arsenal side took on Manchester City in the League cup on Tuesday night; they played very well against an experienced side. Who from that squad are you most excited about breaking through into the first team?
For me, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Frances Coquelin are the most exciting from the current youth and reserve crop. I like Emmanuel Frimpong a lot as well, but he needs to learn a bit more discipline at the moment; he’s a little less polished-looking than Coquelin is at the moment, even if physically more dynamic. Chamberlain is tremendously exciting, as anyone could see. Miquel did well Tuesday night, but he has a little ways to go, probably, particularly at center half.Do you think you are still title contenders this year, or are you going to grow and push on to challenge next year?
No, I don’t, but that’s only because I think City are that much beyond every other team. I do think we’re a contender for fourth or possibly third, and I expect us to be even better next year—remember, Jack Wilshere will be back in the coming months as well. I think Wenger has a good idea of what his side needs at this point, too.Out of the current Wigan squad which players would you have, and why?
I like Ronnie Stam, but I just like most Dutch defenders for some reason. Aidan would like Mohamed Diame, as he’s a tidy passer, good tackler, and a good dribbler. As Aidan said, “he’s a bit like Diaby without all the injury problems”.In the past few years, your record at the DW Stadium has been mixed; do you think it will be another tough fixture for you?
I think it will be tough, but I think it will be easier than it has been in the past. I just have a sense that this current side is better equipped to grind out wins than Arsenal has in the past few years, due to an ability to play more directly if necessary. Also, Theo Walcott’s newfound ability to play as a more traditional winger rather than an inside forward can help give different angles to attack. As long as the defense remains solid and doesn’t shoot itself in the foot, I think Arsenal have a better shot this year to do well.What is your result prediction?
I think it’ll be 1-0 to Arsenal.And finally what is your favourite flavoured pie?
Shepherd’s pie made with lamb. In the dessert family: blueberry.