LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: Manager Roberto Martinez of Wigan gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium on April 16, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Premier League, Week 34: Wigan Beat Arsenal At The Emirates

Arsenal were firm favourites at the Emirates, but Wigan sprung a surprising with two early goals and held firm to run out 2-1 winners, earning their second major scalp in a week.

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Arsenal Vs. Wigan Athletic, 2012 Premier League: Final Score 2-1 Wigan; Arsenal Humbled

Wigan Athletic have just come out of a spell where they played Liverpool at Anfield, Stoke City at home, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Manchester United at the DW Stadium and Arsenal at the Emirates. Hands up if you were expecting Roberto Martinez's side to emerge from that run with twelve points, ending it with a 2-1 win on Monday against the Gunners.

Arsenal wouldn't have been worried - Wigan might have beaten United last week, but Arsene Wenger's men were on fine form themselves, with only an away defeat at Queens Park Rangers marring an astonishing series of matches which have seen them seemingly cement third place in the Premier League. The hosts were firm favourites. Right up until the match began, anyway.

The visitors made it abundantly clear that they weren't going to be mere passengers at the Emirates, giving as good as they got in the very early stages before receiving a series of fortunate breaks which combined to put them 2-0 ahead. From a corner, Wigan stormed up the pitch, and some bizarre play from the Arsenal defensive line allowed Jordi Gomez to release Franco di Santo straight down the middle.

It was a footrace between the striker and Wojciech Szczesny to reach the through pass first, and di Santo just about won it. His attempted chip of Szczesny, however, was a failure - the goalkeeper had closed the angle well and got the faintest of touches on the shot. In normal circumstances, it would have been good enough for a save. Here, the ball popped straight up and landed on di Santo's foot. A volleyed goal quickly followed, inspiring a miniature dance from Martinez on the touchline.

More was to follow. Victor Moses, who was superb all evening, turned right back Bacary Sagna into absolute mush as he drove through the penalty area and unleashed a low cross through a thicket of legs. Gomez was the first onto it, and although his initial shot was saved well by Szczesny from very close range, the 20-year-old couldn't hold on and Gomez was on have to poke home the rebound. Incredibly, with the game just eight minutes old it was Wigan 2, Arsenal 0.

The hosts were then forced to into a switch, with Mikel Arteta, arguably their best midfielder this season, going off with a foot injury apparently sustained just prior to the opener. That was bad news for Arsenal, and it looked very much like the visitors were going to press hard for a third (and possibly beyond that, which would have been incredibly embarrassing).

Fortunately for the Gunners, Wigan suddenly realised that they were quite content with a two-goal lead and set about to defend it as best they could. For the remainder of the first half, that turned out to be 'not very well' as Ali Al-Habsi was forced into several fine saves. His best came against Yossi Benayoun, who looked to have scored with a lovely header before Wigan's goalkeeper launched himself to his left to palm away.

Al-Habsi would have no such luck against Thomas Vermaelen, however. The big centre back is known for his runs up the pitch, and he was on hand to nod Arsenal back into the game 21 minutes in following a delicious delivery from Tomas Rosicky on the Arsenal right. That side was a major weakness for Wigan, with Jean Beausajour unable or unwilling to help out in any phase of play, and it looked as though the home side would find their way back to level pegging via that path. After all, Robin van Persie was bound to score at some point, right?

Nope. Wigan's 3-4-3 simply opted to clog up the centre of the pitch and the Gunenrs found their usual passing lanes blocked off. They tried pressing. Wigan simply lured one of their midfielders out of the centre and used that gap to conduct a vicious counterattacking game. Arsenal had chances to go level, but they were few and far between while the visitors gave as good as they received. Szczesny even had to step in with a fine save from Moses at the hour mark after he caught Djourou napping.

With time ticking away and wave after wave of Arsenal attacks breaking on the Wigan rocks, Arsene Wenger made a bold move, swapping in young winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Johan Djourou and having him play straight up the middle, with Alex Song dropping back into the defence. It didn't work - Oxlade-Chamberlain's runs were predictable and tended to end with some rather stern challenges from the likes of Jameses McCarthy McArthur.

Gervinho's introduction didn't work either, as his industry on the left flank failed to produce anything approximating a real threat to Al-Habsi's goal. Time ticked away (helped by Wigan, who were doing their utmost to chew up the clock), and Arsenal completely failed to regain control of the match, reducing themselves to long through balls for van Persie, which the Latics' back line snapped up with consummate ease. Five minutes of injury time were awards. Five minutes of injury time passed. Wigan won 2-1.



Arsenal Vs. Wigan Athletic, 2012 Premier League: Halftime Score 2-1 Wigan After Crazy Opening Spell

It's been an absurd 45 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, where an early goal flurry by Wigan Athletic appears to rather have ruined Arsenal's day. Arsene Wenger's side might reasonably have expected a straightforward win, despite the absence of Laurent Koscielny to suspension, but they lost Mikel Arteta to a foot injury in the very early going and then horrendous defensive ineptitude led to a pair of Wigan goals.

Franco di Santo notched the first after the visitors were able to break following an Arsenal corner, the goal-shy Argentine forward reaching a through pass just ahead of Wojiech Szczesny and clipping the ball over the goalkeeper before volleying home. One minute later Jordi Gomez made it 2-0 after Szczesny failed to keep hold of his initial shot, a move made possible by Victor Moses absolutely demolishing Bacary Sagna on the Wigan left.

Thomas Vermaelen has pulled one back for the Gunners, the big defender nodding home a superb delivery from Tomas Rosicky, but the hosts still find themselves behind at halftime. It's been a bizarre, poorly defended match, and I don't think anyone has any clue just how this one's going to end. Stay tuned for the second half.


Manchester United Vs. Aston Villa, 2012 Premier League: Final Score 4-0 United After Easy Win

A dubious penalty early on set Manchester United on their way to a 4-0 home win against Aston Villa. The hosts needed three points to keep the gap between themselves and Manchester City at five points following their cross-town rivals' demolition of Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday, and they obliged with a comfortable, confident performance and a relatively straightforward win.

Villa old boy Ashley Young got his new team going, winning a 7th minute penalty after a blazing past Alan Hutton on the left, then cutting inside and running into Ciaran Clark. Young has a reputation as a bit of a diver, so any penalty he wins is inherently sketchy. I'll let you be the judge of this one:

Anyway. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the spot kick and fired past Shay Given to give United the lead, and they'd spend most of the rest of the first half trying to add to it. They didn't do a very good job - the forward line was as disjointed as the Paul Scholes-led midfield was coolly competent, and the hosts failed to make the most of their utter dominance.

That didn't stop them from increasing their lead though. Some atrocious Villa defending allowed Danny Welbeck a tap-in at the far post just before halftime, with Nathan Baker bizarrely opting neither to clear Ashley Young's low cross nor to prevent the young striker getting in behind him. Although the visitors did attempt something approximating an attack or two in the second half, the next goal also went United's way, Wayne Rooney notching his brace despite an impressively poor performance via a cruel deflection past Given.

That score looked like it was going to hold until full time, but substitute Nani had other ideas, slipping a shot past Shay Given in the 93rd minute after being released down the right by Dimitar Berbatov. Villa weren't subjected to any further punishment - 4-0 was quite enough for the hosts. The win means a nice, comfortable margin at the top of the Premier League table, and with four games to go, United need eight points to secure the title.


Sunderland Vs. Wolverhampton, 2012 Premier League: Zzzzzzzz

Seriously, nothing happened in this match. It was pretty dreadful. Roker Report has somehow managed to write a full report if you're really curious. The final score was 0-0.


West Bromwich Albion Vs. Queens Park Rangers: Final Score 1-0 WBA As Dorrans Makes The Difference

Queens Park Rangers failed to earn the point their play deserved at the Hawthorns thanks to some poor finishing and one excellent strike from West Bromwich Albion midfielder Graham Dorrans. The visitors had plenty of chances to win the match, but their shooting was wayward - only two of eighteen attempts even troubled goalkeeper Ben Foster, with Bobby Zamora particularly wasteful.

Dorrans would make the Hoops pay the price for their profligacy in the 22nd minute when the midfielder found himself in far too much space thirty yards from Paddy Kenny's goal. He made the most of it, unleashing a vicious drive that the goalkeeper couldn't keep out, and the Baggies would spend the rest of the match watching their hapless opponents fail to convert fairly basic chances.

Although QPR remain outside the relegation zone despite the loss, they're only two points ahead of 18th place Wigan Athletic, and the Latics do have a game in hand. Things are going to get very very interesting for Mark Hughes and company.


Swansea City Vs. Blackburn Rovers, 2012 Premier League: Final Score 3-0 As Swans Cruise

Swansea City routed Blackburn Rovers 3-0 to arrest their mini-skid, putting their visitors in real danger of relegation in the process. Blackburn started brightly at the Liberty Stadium, but Swansea stepped up a few gears midway through the first half and it didn't come as much of a shock when the dangerous Gylfi Sigurdsson gave them the lead. It was a beautiful goal - the Icelandic midfielder bringing down a cross with a wonderful touch before bending an angled shot over Paul Robinson and into the top corner.

The Swans doubled their advantage just before the break when a poor clearance led to Nathan Dyer slicing a shot past Robinson at his near post, and from then on the match was done. An own goal by Scott Dann, who was facing the other way as a close-range Sigurdsson effort crashed off the post, the defender's legs, and into the back of the net, put an extra layer of gloss on a win that the home side thoroughly deserved. Aside from the opening 20 minutes, Blackburn were abysmal, and the visitors remain in the relegation zone at 19th.


Norwich Vs. Manchester City, 2012 Premier League: Final Score 6-1 As Carlos Tevez Leads Rout

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini had claimed earlier this week that his side's trip to Norwich City would be more difficult than the upcoming Manchester derby - the match that looks like it will decide where the title ends up. If that's true, City are surely title favourites, because it was all too easy for the visitors, who ran out 6-1 winners today.

They were the better side from the off, and it came as no surprise at all when Manchester City City took the lead eighteen minutes in with former captain/professional walkabout Carlos Tevez crashing a long-range effort past John Ruddy at his near post. By then the visitors had already had two penalty appeals turned down. Tevez turned provider ten minutes later, backheeling the ball to Sergio Aguero and allowing his compatriot to finish first-time from just outside the box to make it 2-0.

Andrew Surman marked a brief spell of Norwich resurgence after halftime with an impressive long-range goal of his own, but it was a false dawn - the visitors soon reestablished control of the match via two quickfire goals from Tevez and Aguero before the former completed his hattrick by rounding Ruddy and finishing into an empty net. There was room for a sixth goal, scored by Adam Johnson, as Manchester City closed the gap at the top of the table to two points.

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