Man of the match: Playing as the middle-man in Wigan’s narrow, deep, three-man central defense, Gary Caldwell was not only the Latics’ best defender but also the man that kept the team organized. Given a game plan that was always going to put a lot of pressure on him and his teammates, Caldwell was calm, poised, and able to radiate that presence throughout the defense.
Packaged for takeaway:
- OMG! Shock! Well, kinda. The win was Wigan’s fourth in five and seems part of the late-season push we should expect from Roberto Martínez’s teams. During this one they’ve gotten wins from Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal. Should we really be that shocked?
- Arsenal was certainly shocked when Wigan went up within 10 minutes, as were onlookers by Gunners’ defending. A text book counterattack allowed the Latics to score their first goal, but the key to a that kind of transition is your opponent opening up. On the second goal, Victor Moses was able to collapse the right side of Arsenal’s defense and, eventually, feed an easy ball into the six for Jordi Gómez.
- When Arsenal soon responded through Thomas Vermaelen it looked like we were in for a shootout, but Wigan seemed to adjust. Through the first 20 minutes Wigan’s midfield played very deep and refrained from putting in a challenges that could see them beat. After the goal, the midfield (particularly, James McArthur and Jamie McCarthy) got more aggressive.
- Even before Wigan’s midfield toughened up, Arsenal’s only success was playing crosses into the box. Their goal came off a cross, while Yossi Benayoun went close a couple of times by out-jumping Antolín Alcaraz. Curiously, Arsenal stopped doing this and even (eventually) took Benayoun off. Predictably, they tried to break down Wigan while keeping the ball on the floor, an approach which never came that close to an equalizer.
- It’s matches like this that make people question Arsene Wenger’s in-game tactics. Disclaimer: He knows his team better than we do. However, why does Marouane Chamakh even dress if he’s not going to be used in this type of match? Particularly when playing in the air gave Arsenal their first goal and their best chances?
- Wigan is now five points clear of the drop and, more importantly, have a struggling team (QPR) between them and relegation. For Arsenal, they still have a five point lead on fourth and will be fine. Wigan’s shown they’re pretty good right now.
Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.
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As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.
France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.
The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.
Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.
Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.
Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.
A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.
The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.
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The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.
The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.
Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.
After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.
Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.
Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.
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Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.
After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.
The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.
Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.
[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]
With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.
“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”
Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.
For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.
“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.
“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”
In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.
The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.