We went minute-by-minute for this evening’s Premier League action. Could Wigan boost their chances of survival by taking points from Arsenal at the Emirates?
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Arsenal 1-2 Wigan Athletic
19.51 – Evening all and welcome to tonight’s minute-by-minute Premier League coverage. It’s Arsenal v Wigan in the Emirates and, as always, it’s LIIIIIIIIVE (© Sky Sports).
There’s just under 10 minutes to go before kick-off and the freshly-printed team-sheets have landed. Let’s do this.
19.53 – Here’s how Arsenal will line up, complete with PFA Player of the Year nominee Robin van Persie up top.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Andre Santos; Song, Arteta, Walcott, Rosicky, Benayoun; van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Squillaci, Gervinho, Gibbs, Chamakh.
19.55 – One change for Roberto Martinez’s Wigan; Shaun Moloney is out so Jordi Gomez comes in to replace him. Former UCD marksman Conor “The Sammon of College” Sammon is on the bench for the visitors.
Wigan: Al Habsi; Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Moses, Gomez; Di Santo. Subs: Pollitt, Ben Watson, McManaman, Sammon, Jones, Diame, Stam.
19.59 – What’s at stake tonight I hear you ask? Well, if Arsenal can do the business, they’ll go a whopping eight points clear of Tottenham and Newcastle in fourth and fifth place, virtually guaranteeing Champions League football — although the Gunners will have played an extra game.
Wigan are still riding high following last week’s shock win against Manchester United. Three points for them would move them five points clear of the relegation zone.
20.02 – We’re off and running.
20.04 – Hello Thomas Vermaelen, thanks for joining us. Alex Song rolls it to the big Belgian who takes a couple of unopposed strides forward and whistles a low drive just outside Al-Habsi’s post.
20.06 – Mikel Arteta stands over a 20-yard free for a long, long time. When he finally hits it, it comes straight back to him off the wall.
20.09 – GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Wigan (Di Santo, 7′) Unbelievable start as Wigan take the lead against the run of play. Benayoun’s header in tipped over by Al-Habsi, but Wigan break from the subsequent corner. Di Santo beats Szczesny in a footrace to the ball and gets enough off a touch to nick it away from the keeper and finish.
20.10 – GOAL! Arsenal 0-2 Wigan (Gomez, 8′) Stunning — Wigan double their lead with the very next attack. Victor Moses breaks down the left and squares for di Santo. He can’t get a clean shot off and as the ball bobbles free, Jordi Gomez tucks it past Szczesny from a yard or two out.
20.12 – Absolute chaos in these opening few minutes — who had Wigan going two up inside eight minutes? Amid all that, Mikel Arteta has injured his foot. He goes off to be replaced by Aaron Ramsey.
20.15 – According to the official clocks, there were 94 seconds between the Wigan goals.
20.19 – What a save by Al-Habsi! Benayoun’s header sends a cross spinning towards the top corner but the keeper somehow gets across to claw it behind for a corner. That’s the second time he’s denied Benayoun in these opening 16 or 17 minutes.
20.23 – GOAL! Arsenal 1-2 Wigan (Vermaelen, 21′) Arsenal get one back and, to be fair, that’s been coming. Since going two up, Wigan have retreated and ceded most of the possession to Arsenal and now they’ve been punished. Rosicky whips in a deep cross and Big Tommy Vermaelen — the Verminator to his friends in North London — rises from the penalty spot and powers his header past Al-Habsi. Game on, Jeff.
20.27 – Oof, Robin van Persie stings Al-Habsi’s palms with a 25-yard thunderbolt. Wigan need to change something and change it fast.
20.34 – No real chances of note but this game is still being played at a frantic pace. Arsenal are probing and probing, but Wigan holding firm so far.
20.36 – Sagna picks up a booking for a little bit of a tug on Moses. The Wigan winger is taking plenty of time on the ground, giving his team-mates time to regroup and Roberto Martinez a chance to issue some fresh instructions. Arsene Wenger is not amused.
20.39 – Now it’s Al-Habsi’s turn to leisurely saunter about to the annoyance of the home support. He takes his sweet time over a goal kick and the boos ring out around the Emirates. Is this going to go on for the rest of the game?
20.41 – Fed up by the time-wasting no doubt, Maynor Figueroa takes it on himself to launch an attack, striding forward to the edge of the Arsenal box. He lays it off to Moses whose cross very nearly finds Di Santo, but Djourou slides in to nick it away.
20.44 – Much better from Wigan as they push men on to support their attacks. Moses and Di Santo try to bully their way through the middle to no avail and then Boyce is penalised for handball as he tries to control the breaking ball in the box.
Three minutes to play in this first half. Can Wigan hang on?
20.48 – We’re into the first of three minutes of stoppage — call it a conservative estimate by match referee Andre Marriner.
20.50 – A little bit of indecision in the Arsenal defence presents Jordi Gomez with a snifter of a chance but he curls his effort past Szczesny’s right post. And that will be that…
20.51 – HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-2 Wigan Athletic
20.52 – I’ve clearly done something to please the gods of Premier League football lately. First Blackburn v Liverpool, now this gem — I’m spoiled!
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21.07 – Aaaaand we’re back. More of the same for the next 45 minutes, please. I’m going for 4-3 to Arsenal.
21.10 – Arsenal start again where they left off and it very nearly yields a goal. Andre Santos has not one but two (count ‘em) chances blocked inside the Arsenal area. Van Persie very nearly gets onto the loose ball.
21.16 – Victor Moses has been very lively down this left wing tonight, giving Bacary Sagna plenty to think about. He skips around the far side of the Arsenal man and draws a good stop from Szczesny who does well to bat it away.
21.18 – Vermaelen gets up to meet a corner but Al-Habsi does enough to put him off and his header is just over.
21.20 – Is the goal coming for Arsenal? They’re getting closer and closer. Rosicky slips a lovely ball through to van Persie who has to time his run perfectly to stay onside. He pulls it back to Santos at the near post, but rather than direct it on goal, he prods it wide.
21.23 – What did I tell you about Victor Moses? He’s just had a glorious chance to put Wigan 3-1 up. A massive throw-in from Emerson Boyce gets in behind the Arsenal back four, Moses takes his shot on early and with plenty of power, but Szczesny is able to get his body behind it.
21.32 – More nice play by Wigan down the left. Moses crosses to the back post where Jordi Gomez has a quarter-chance but he puts it high and wide into the stands.
20 minutes to play here.
21.35 – If Wojciech Szczesny was any more laid back, he’d be… you can finish that one yourself. He dawdles over a backpass before nonchalantly sliding it to Djourou. I’d say there were a couple of hearts in mouths there.
21.36 – Here comes the Ox! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on for the final 16 minutes, replacing Johann Djourou. A positive substitution by Arsene Wenger but he doesn’t really have much choice at this stage.
21.38 – Franco di Santo trots off for Wigan to be replaced by “the Sammon of College”. Di Santo has been excellent this evening, buzzing about and causing the Arsenal back four all sorts of problems. They won’t be sorry to see him go.
21.42 – Ten minutes to go. There are only a handful of Wigan fans in the Emirates tonight but I’d imagine this will be the longest 10 minutes of their season. If they can hang on, they’ll go five clear of the drop. Arsenal have looked very threatening tonight but it would be criminal to see the visitors head home empty-handed.
21.45 – There’s the first of what will probably be a half-dozen Arsenal chances in these closing minutes. Sagna whips in a cross, van Persie beats Figueroa to it at the front post, but he can’t twist his body properly and ends up back-heeling it wide. Goal kick.
21.47 – Walcott is “eased” off the ball by Figueroa and, despite howls for a free from all four corners of the Emirates and from Arsene Wenger, referee Andre Marriner waves play on. I think — think — Arsenal may have been a little unlucky there.
21.48 – A change for Wigan with four minutes to go — Diame is on to replace goalscorer Jordi Gomez.
21.50 – A word for James McCarthy as we tick towards the final minute — he’s been brilliant in midfield tonight, hounding Arsenal without the ball and distributing smartly when he has it. You watching, Trap?
21.52 – FIVE added minutes. Since when does Fergie time apply at the Emirates?
21.53 – Al-Habsi soaks up another couple of seconds and finally — about 60 minutes after he first started it — the keeper is booked by Andre Marriner.
21.55 – Two minutes of the five to play. Surely Wigan are going to hold on now?
21.56 – Diame scuttles free down the right and skips past Andre Santos before trying to beat Szczesny at this near post. Saved.
21.58 – FULL TIME: Arsenal 1-2 Wigan Athletic
It’s all over. Wow.
22.01 – Well well well, who saw that coming? I’ll put my hands up and admit I didn’t — I backed Arsenal earlier this afternoon.
There’s no denying it though. Wigan have been excellent tonight and fully deserve to take all three points. It’s their first ever win away to Arsenal.
A frustrated Robin van Persie refuses to shake Gary Caldwell’s hand at the end. A tad petty but I suppose if RVP scores when he wants, he probably shakes hands when he wants as well.
22.07 – Bolton captain Gary Caldwell: “I think for a number of weeks we’ve been playing well and getting the reward for playing well.
“There’s still a long way to go, it’s going to be a real battle down the bottom, but we’ve given ourselves a chance.”
22.09 – Roberto Martinez: “I’m so, so satisfied because that wasn’t an accident.”
“A well-deserved three points and to say that speaks volumes of the players.”
22.12 – So that’s it from us. Arsenal stay third but the gap between themselves, Tottenham and Newcastle remains at five points and the others now have a game in hand.
Wigan go five clear of the relegation zone, although Bolton can eat into that when they play their two games in hand.
Thanks for reading.