Arsenal moved into the top four with a 1-0 win over Wigan at the JJB this afternoon.
Arsene Wenger stuck with the same team that had beaten Reading so convincingly on Monday, meaning Theo Walcott continued in the main striker position.
It was the home side who started brightest, forcing Arsenal to defend a series of crosses as they showed they had no intention of sitting back and allowing the Gunners to play. But Arsenal had the first real shot in anger. A beautiful flick from Cazorla set Arteta free in midfield, he played to Oxlade-Chamberlain whose shot from a tight angle was well saved by Al Habsi.
Lukas Podolski then tested the Wigan keeper after a good run through the defence, then volleyed from distance only to see the shot blocked. It was a very open game from early on with Wigan finding plenty of room beyond the Arsenal midfield. Podolski again was positive, taking on a shot from the corner of the box it was well off-target.
Wigan then had the best chance of the game when Kone was sent clear, behind the Arsenal defence. He outpaced Mertesacker but with just Szczesny to beat he dragged his left footed shot wide.
Arsenal found it hard to maintain possession, the home side were well organised and worked ver hard with and without the ball. Good work from Santi Cazorla almost fashioned a chance for Theo Walcott but the England man couldn’t find enough space in the box to get his shot away.
Jack Wilshere was then booked for making a perfectly good challenge on Shaun Moloney. The Wigan player didn’t even look for a free kick but referee Jon Moss got the yellow card out. He didn’t seem quite eager to book McCarthy or Moloney for more obvious fouls on Wilshere in the following few moments, funny that, and the teams went in all square at the break.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started the second half brightly with a brilliant turn which left two Wigan defenders looking at his heels. He got into the box and pulled it back for Theo Walcott but the England man didn’t feel like getting hurt and Wigan cleared. And moments later it was the same combination, this time Walcott got his shot away but Al Habsi saved from close range.
Arsenal looked much more in the game than in the first half and when ahead in the 60th minute when Theo Walcott was pushed over in the box by Beasejour and the ref pointed to the stop. Mikel Arteta stepped up and sent Al Habsi the wrong way to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was causing Wigan all kinds of problems down the right and put in another great cross for Walcott. He could have had a shot but decided to step over it, perhaps to let it run on to another Arsenal player, and Wigan got it clear.
Wojciech Szczesny then saved Arsenal twice, first changing direction to save Figeuroa’s deflected effort but making a brilliant stop with his legs from Kone who had made good space in the Arsenal box. Jones then fired a shot just wide from the edge of the box as the home side continued to press for an equaliser.
Theo Walcott then fired a free kick not far over the bar before Per Mertesacker was forced into a last ditch challenge when Stam’s low cross fizzed across the 6 yard box. Ramsey and Coquelin replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski as Wenger looked to hold onto the slender lead.
Wigan did have some moments of danger, and a penalty appeal, but Szczesny wasn’t troubled and the Gunners hung on for the three points.
A good win against a dogged and cynical Wigan team, three points, happy fucking Christmas Gooners!