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Gunners down Wigan

2009-04-11 18:49

Alec Kennedy

Wigan - Andriy Arshavin inspired Arsenal to a late fightback at Wigan on Saturday, but a 4-1 victory for Arsene Wenger's men was marred by another injury to their already-depleted defence.

Second-half goals from Theo Walcott and Mikael Silvestre - both created by Russian star Arshavin - overturned Mido's first-half opener and secured victory for the Gunners before Arshavin and Alex Song completed the scoring with two goals in the final minute.

But an injury to Swiss defender Johan Djorou now leaves Arsenal running out of options ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final second-leg against Villarreal at the Emirates.

Arsenal arrived at the JJB in search of a fifth successive league victory as they attempted to put further distance between themselves and Aston Villa in the race for the fourth and final Champions League spot.


But with the Champions League quarter-final against Villarreal well poised at 1-1 ahead of next Wednesday's second-leg at the Emirates, Wenger chose to start with the attacking threat of Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench.

Remain in contention

It was risky tactic by the Frenchman. Wigan have proved themselves to be a tough team to beat at the JJB this season and Steve Bruce's team remain in contention for surprise qualification for next term's Europe Cup.

And despite a bright start by the visitors, with Cesc Fabregas and Arshavin linking well behind lone striker Nicklas Bendtner, it was Wigan that carried the greater threat.

That threat was rewarded on eighteen minutes when Egyptian striker Mido put the home side ahead after the Arsenal defence had failed to deal with Ben Watson's corner.

Titus Bramble's far-post header met an Arsenal head in the six yard box, but the ball dropped to Mido and the former Tottenham man beat goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with a left-foot volley from close range.

Having been taunted by the visiting fans as a result of his Tottenham past, Mido clearly enjoyed celebrating his second Wigan goal in front of the 6 000 travelling Arsenal supporters.

Fabianski, in for the injured Manuel Almunia, could have done better with the goal and the Pole was exposed again moments later when he nervously dealt with a Hugo Rodallega cross that nearly resulted in a Paul Scharner goal.

Rattled foot of post

But for two poor attempts by Nicklas Bendtner, Arsenal were struggling to threaten the Wigan goal and things got worse on 35 minutes when Djorou was carried off with a leg injury.

With William Gallas out for the season with damaged knee ligaments, Arsenal now have growing injury problems as they prepare to face Villarreal and then Chelsea in next Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.

It could have become much worse for Arsenal on the stroke of half-time had referee Alan Wiley sent off full-back Kieran Gibbs for a foul on Antonio Valencia.

As the last man, Gibbs should have been red carded, but Wiley showed only a yellow. And from the free-kick that followed, Wigan midfielder Watson rattled the foot of the post.

Wigan continued to dominate early in the second-half and Mido had a header cleared off the line by Gibbs after Fabianski had raced off his line in a vain attempt to clear a long ball.

Mido came off worst in the challenge with Fabianski and was replaced by Olivier Kapo. The change unsettled Wigan and Arsenal took advantage on the hour when Walcott equalised with their first effort on target.

Mario Melchiot's failure to clear allowed Arshavin to thread the ball to Walcott and the England striker scored from 12 yards to claim his first goal since October.

And Silvestre settled the game for Arsenal when he side-footed past Chris Kirkland from six yards on 71 minutes after Fabregas had teed him up from Arshavin's free-kick.

Arshavin and Song merely rubbed salt into Wigan's wounds with their last minute strikes.

 

SAPA

Comments
  • Good Charlie - 2009-04-14 09:09

    Alec, Not to be nasty or anything, but I've read better articles...

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