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.


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