Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Wigan 2 Arsenal 2

It is still grim up north for Arsenal but, having made eight changes to his starting line-up before watching his side fail to retain a lead against 10 men, Arsène Wenger only has himself to blame for this latest failure in the North-West.

Sebastien Squillaci’s own goal, that gifted Wigan Athletic a point four minutes after Charles N’Zogbia’s dismissal for butting Arsenal substitute Jack Wilshere, prevented Wenger’s team from moving level with joint leaders Manchester United and Manchester City.

Having defeated Chelsea 48 hours earlier at the Emirates, this was a golden opportunity for Arsenal to confirm their title-winning credentials by avenging last April’s 3-2 defeat at the DW Stadium.

Yet the north-west has proven to be a graveyard for Arsenal’s ambitions in recent seasons and, having won 17 and lost 16 of their 41 games in this part of the world since September 2005, it should be no surprise that they failed to collect three points on their 42nd visit to the region.

Had Wenger fielded his strongest team, it might have been a different story, but with Cesc Fabregas suspended, Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Wilshere and Gael Clichy started on the bench, and Robin van Persie was rested ahead of Saturday’s trip to Birmingham.

Wenger insisted, however, that he had no option but to freshen his team in the wake of the victory against Chelsea.

“We had a disadvantage that Manchester United didn’t have because we played a big game on Monday night, but Wigan played three days ago.” Wenger said.

“I had to make changes. But I don’t think that was a problem at all. At 2-1 against 10 men, it is two lost points for us. We didn’t do enough, but it was a difficult game and Wigan never gave up.’’

After last season’s defeat at Wigan, when three goals in the final 10 minutes led to the home side’s remarkable victory, Wenger was playing with fire.

Hugo Rodallega’s narrow failure to head home Tom Cleverley’s second-minute cross was a warning that Wigan were in the mood to damage Arsenal’s title bid.

Despite their re-shaped line-up, Arsenal’s movement remained as fluid as ever and Wigan struggled initially to shackle their opponents, but once Andrei Arshavin had broken free to test goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi from Tomas Rosicky’s pass, the home side settled and began to stretch Wenger’s team.

They made the breakthrough on 18 minutes when N’Zogbia’s pace took him to the edge of the penalty area, where he was tripped by the hanging foot of Koscielny. Referee Lee Probert pointed to the penalty spot and Ben Watson struck the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.

But Arsenal proved their new-found tenacity by overturning Wigan’s lead to go in 2-1 ahead at half-time.

They deservedly levelled on 39 minutes when Arshavin volleyed past Al-Habsi and, five minutes later they were ahead after a perhaps fortuitous goal from Nicklas Bendtner, the Dane shooting past Al-Habsi from 12 yards.

Wigan’s hopes of a fightback appeared to have been dashed with N’Zogbia’s dismissal, but they equalised four minutes later when Squillaci headed into his own net.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said: “He let his team down, but his team-mates got him out of jail by showing how much they care for the club.”

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.