London - Wigan Athletic added to last week's
surprise victory over Premier League leaders Manchester United by
beating third-place Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
early goals turned out to be enough for Roberto Martinez's side to pull
off an even more unexpected success which significantly improves their
chances of avoiding relegation.
The Latics are now five points
clear of third-bottom Bolton Wanderers, who have two games in hand, in a
five-team tussle to avoid the drop.
The result was a blow to
Arsene Wenger's Gunners' hopes of holding off the challenges of
Tottenham and Newcastle and qualify for the Champions League in third
Had they won they would have been eight points clear of
both rivals, who now each have a game in hand with which to lessen a
Wenger made one change from the side that had won
3-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers last week, with Tomas Rosicky replacing
Aaron Ramsey in midfield.
Wigan were unable to call upon forward
Shaun Maloney, whose goal had inflicted defeat upon United on the same
night, so Jordi Gomez returned to the starting line-up.
Vermaelen fired an early Arsenal effort wide before Wigan goalkeeper Ali
Al-Habsi tipped Yossi Benayoun's header over after Bacary Sagna had
picked out the Israeli in front of goal.
The corner, in the seventh minute, was easily cleared however - and Wigan scored on the counter attack.
Di Santo was the scorer after Gomez had put him one on one with
goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The Pole got a touch to the Argentine's
shot but the ball looped up and Di Santo was able to find the net before
defenders could intervene.
It took Wigan all of a minute-and-a-half to make it 2-0, with Gomez the scorer this time. Victor Moses
turned Sagna and delivered a cross from the left that James McArthur
could not convert at the near post but Szczesny was unable to grab the
ball and Gomez was there in a flash to poke home.
The home fans
were shocked into silence and Arsenal made a change straight away with
Mikel Arteta, seemingly having injured a foot taking a free-kick,
replaced by Ramsey in the ninth minute.
Al-Habsi was soon
required to make another acrobatic save to keep out a header bound for
the top corner, with Benayoun again the man denied when he met Rosicky's
However, the Oman international didn't even move when
Vermaelen powered a header past him in the 21st minute, with the Belgian
leaping unchallenged to meet Rosicky's delivery from the right.
League top scorer Robin van Persie was next to have a go and again
Al-Habsi pulled off a save. Johan Djourou was guilty of poor finishing
however when he poked wide from eight yards a minute later.
Arsenal were pouring forward now, although Rosicky wastefully fired over after an exchange with van Persie.
was booked for hauling Moses down, although the Wigan man stayed down
too long for Wenger's liking with the Arsenal manager convinced the
Latics were time-wasting.
Wigan made it to half time with their
lead intact and soaked up pressure straight after the restart but Moses's
pace and strength saw him get the better of Sagna again, with Szczesny
having to parry the shot the followed.
Van Persie crafted a
chance for an equaliser with a cut back for Andre Santos but the
Brazilian scuffed his shot wide to let Wigan off the hook.
Moses sprinted clear after the Arsenal defence failed to deal with a
throw-in but the Nigeria forward fired straight at Szczesny to waste his
side's clearest opportunity for a long while.
Arsenal made a
second change just after the hour mark when Gervinho replaced Benayoun.
Ramsey headed a difficult chance over before another Wigan counter
attack saw Gomez volley wide after Moses had picked him out beyond the
A third Arsenal change followed with teenage forward
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent on to replace centre-back Djourou with 15
Wigan refreshed their line-up as Di Santo was
replaced by Connor Sammon before Wigan survived a scary moment when
Al-Habsi made a mess of a punch away under pressure.
had hardly been in the game but was convinced he had been impeded by
Maynor Figueroa chasing a through ball that would have put him clear.
Referee Andre Marriner decided otherwise however as Wigan moved to within five minutes of the finishing line.
They negotiated their way through those, plus five-and-a-half minutes of added time, which saw Al-Habsi booked for time-wasting.