London - Mikel Arteta's controversial penalty gave Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 victory over struggling Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
three points lifted Arsene Wenger's team into third place in the
Premier League table, although Chelsea and Tottenham can both climb back
above the Gunners with wins this weekend.
But the narrowness of
the margin reflected the considerable contribution of Wigan, who did not
look like a team languishing third from bottom, and another erratic
performance from Arsenal.
VIDEO: Wigan v Arsenal
Arsenal's third successive league win
was secured by the second half penalty converted by Spanish midfielder
Arteta after Jean Beausejour challenged Theo Walcott from behind.
was very important because we beat West Brom at home and now we have
two away wins (against Reading and Wigan)," Wenger said.
"It was a difficult game because they stopped us from playing. I believe they are in the wrong position in the table."
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez added: "The penalty was very soft. Theo Walcott is very clever there.
"We are in the middle of a period where calls are not going our way but
we played with a great mentality and I couldn't be prouder."
had an early scare when Arouna Kone was flagged marginally offside from
James McArthur's pass as Wigan took the game to Arsenal.
goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, making his 100th appearance since being signed
from Bolton, had to save from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after a smart move
Santi Cazorla, their hat-trick hero in Monday's 5-2
win at Reading, produced a fabulous pass to send Arteta surging through
the middle to threaten Al Habsi's goal.
At the other end Kone,
heading for the Africa Cup of Nations next month with Ivory Coast,
slipped past two tackles but elected to shoot from long range and gave
Wojciech Szczesny a routine save.
But Arsenal were finding plenty
of space in the Wigan half. Lukas Podolski saw his fierce shot beaten
out by Al Habsi and Boyce was obliged to clear Cazorla's low raking
cross soon after.
Franco Di Santo's fine backheel set up a one-two
with Shaun Maloney but his team-mate's return was too far ahead and
Szczesny got there first.
Then after 23 minutes Di Santo conjured
the pass of the game, a brilliant effort from inside his own half that
allowed Kone to get the advantage over Per Mertesacker, only for the
striker to pull his shot wide when Szczesny rushed out.
groans of frustration from the home crowd indicated that they were not
expecting to have many more chances of that quality against Wenger's
Ronnie Stam did cut in after a good Wigan passing move but his weak shot was easily smothered at the near post.
Wilshere became the first player in the referee's book but was
extremely unlucky to be penalised for what replays showed to be a
perfectly fair tackle on Maloney.
Al Habsi had to mark his century
appearance for Wigan with a marvellous save from Walcott to prevent
Arsenal taking the lead after 48 minutes.
reached the byeline before pulling the ball back for the unmarked
Walcott to shoot first time from six yards but Al Habsi was equal to it.
when the Gunners did take the lead on the hour, Walcott was at the
centre of things as he went down in the penalty area under minimal
contact from Beausejour.
Referee Jon Moss had no hesitation in
pointing to the penalty spot, and Arteta stepped up to send Al Habsi the
wrong way with the penalty kick.
Wigan's response suggested an
equaliser might be on the cards, but Maynor Figueroa's low shot was
saved and Kone had another beaten out by Szczesny.