Europe bound Arsenal sink Wigan
Written By: Robert Halter
The stakes were high for both Arsenal and Wigan Athletic ahead of their Premier League clash in mid May under the floodlights at the Emirates Stadium with the Gunners unbeaten in eight games and two wins away from Champions League qualification while defeat for the Latics would relegate them into the Championship next season. The first chance fell to Arsenal on six minutes as Theo Walcott pinged over a cross from the right and Santi Cazorla’s diving header went narrowly wide. But the Gunners got the breakthrough in the eleventh minute as Cazorla’s corner deceived the Latics defence which left Lukas Podolski with the easiest of tasks as he directed his close range header into the net. Another Cazorla corner in the thirty ninth minute unsettled the Latics as Per Mertesacker won the challenge in the air but Laurent Koscielny was unable to hit the target as he steered the ball past the left post. On the stroke of half time, Wigan were given a lifeline when Gunners captain Mikel Arteta pulled down Shaun Maloney on the edge of the box and Maloney duly obliged by curling the ball over the Arsenal wall and past Wojciech Szczesny into the right side of the goal. In the opening three minutes of the second half, Szczesny saved the Gunners from further blushes as Arouna Kone had his near post shot kept out by Szczesny’s legs following a one-two between him and Maloney. Arsenal went back on the attack in the fifty second minute when from Walcott’s delivery, Cazorla had two attempts that were blocked on both occasions by Joel Robles before Tomas Rosicky fired a shot sideways. In the first change Franco Di Santo took over in the forward line and replaced the injured Callum McManaman. Robles was quick to the chase again in the sixty first minute as he stood up to Walcott with a defensive stop but Walcott had the final say two minutes later when he tumbled over to convert the ball past Robles from Cazorla’s low cross and put Arsenal in pole position. The Gunners forged further ahead in the sixty eighth minute as Cazorla nudged the ball through to Podolski, who with a perfect execution chipped his shot over Robles with a crafted finish before Aaron Ramsey raced onto Cazlora’s pass to round off proceedings as he cut inside from the left flank and from an acute angle curled the ball home in the seventy first minute. Arsenal gave Jack Wilshere a run out in favour of Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took over from Podolski. Di Santo went close in the eighty second minute as his low long range drive was near to the mark. Maloney left the field of play near the end as Angelo Henriquez took over. In stoppage time Thomas Vermaelen appeared for Arteta in a role reversal of the captains which was just in time for the Arsenal team parade to mark the final home game of the season as the Gunners 4-1 demolition of the Latics had ended Wigan Athletic’s stay in the top flight after an eight year period while Arsenal targeted a sixteenth consecutive season in Europe’s premier competition.