Arsenal Win But Wilshere Sees Red

Goals by Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh saw Arsenal come from behind to beat Birmingham 2-1 as Jack Wilshere saw red in injury time.
The visitors had gone ahead with a first-half Nicola Zidic header, but Nasri equalised from the penalty spot after Chamakh won a controversial penalty minutes later.
After the re-start the Moroccan striker rounded Ben Foster to give Arsenal the lead after some excellent build-up play by Wilshere and Alexandre Song.
But the gloss was taken off Arsenal’s first win in three Premier League matches after Wilshere was given his marching orders in the closing stages of the game for a terrible lunge on Zidig.
The 18-year-old midfielder dived in at pace and caught the giant Serb’s ankle with his outstretched leg on the half-way line, leaving referee Martin Atkinson no option but to reach for his pocket.
The game had started well for Arsenal, who had Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott back on the bench after lengthy spells on the sidelines with injuries. Meanwhile, former Arsenal midfielder Alex Hleb was given a rousing return to the Emirates as he lined up on the Blues flank.
The Gunners’ trademark slick passing and movement was once again a marvel to watch. After just five minutes Chamakh and Wilshere completely bamboozled the visitors’ defence with a series of short passes before the Moroccan saw his shot blocked by Stephen Carr in the box.
Moments later, rangy midfielder Abou Diaby showcased his expert dribbing skills with a marauding run into the Birmingham box – but once again, there was no end product for Arsenal, and Birmingham were allowed to clear.
The ball did soon find its way into Foster’s net after defender Sebastien Squillaci rose to head in a free-kick by Andrei Arshavin on 18 minutes – but the linesman spotted the offside and the flag was raised to disallow the goal.
Birmingham then took an unlikely lead after 33 minutes when Keith Fahey’s hopeful cross was expertly headed past Lukasz Fabianski by the towering Zigic, who out-jumped Johan Djourou to net his first goal on his first start for the Blues.
It was 6′ 7″ Zigic’s first goal for Birmingham on his first start for the club since his £6 million summer move from Valencia.
But the visitors were only ahead for a few minutes once Nasri smashed home convincingly from the penalty spot after Chamakh was adjudged to have been fouled by Scott Dann.
Replays showed the Moroccan going to ground far too easily and Scott Dann would have felt hard done by to have conceded to spot kick. It was the fifth penalty won by the former Bordeaux striker since his arrival on a free transfer this summer.
If Chamakh was fortunate to win the penalty kick, there was nothing lucky about his winner after the break. Wilshere chested the ball down with aplomb, played a nice one-two with Song, and then split the Birmingham defence with a superb through ball.
With his back to the goal, Chamakh managed to dummy Dann before turning, rounding the advancing Foster, and side-footing into the back of the net.
Once ahead, Arsenal never looked in much trouble. Diaby continued to show flashes of brilliant close ball control, while Arshavin, substitute Tomas Rosicky, the excellent Nasri and a lively Wilshere all had second-half shots.
But the game ended in a series of spats with Emmanuel Eboue booked for a terrible scissor lunge on Liam Ridgewell, while Zigic twice stood on thin ice – for a robust body-check on Wilshere and a late trip on Eboue.
With such a fiery atmosphere, Wenger was perhaps correct not to risk sending on Walcott – but Danish striker Bendtner did come on late to make his first appearance of the season.
The bad-natured tone of the game was captured by Wilshere’s moment of madness in the second minute of injury time – but it was too late for Birmingham to make anything of the numerical advantage and Arsenal held on to take the three points.
Arsenal move up to third place in the League on level points with rivals Manchester United, who were held at home by West Brom, while Birmingham stay in 16th place.

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