WIGAN ATHLETIC 3
- Watson 80,
- Bramble 89,
- N'Zogbia 90
- Walcott 41,
- Silvestre 48
**We’ve been waiting for the potential of Wigan Athletic to show itself this season. It has in fits and starts, a win over Chelsea, an away win over Aston Villa. But for the most part, Roberto Martinez’s first year in the English Premier League has been disappointing, as his team has underachieved all year long.
In fact, there was still some relegation doubts coming into the game, as they were only four points out of the drop zone going into Sunday’s game at DW Stadium with Arsenal.
For 80 minutes, it looked like just another disappointing day for the Latics, but in a 10-minute span, all that potential turned into reality, as Wigan stunned the Gunners with a three-goal rally that was completed by Charles N’Zogbia’s blast in stoppage time, giving Wigan an historic 3-2 win, their first over Arsenal.
Wigan is now virtually safe, while Arsenal’s flickering title hopes are exterminated.
Trailing 2-0 in the 80th minute, there looked no chance of a Wigan comeback. But N’Zogbia played substitute Victor Moses in and although Moses’ first touch was poor, he was smart enough to play the ball back to Ben Watson, who colly finished from 12 yards out to cut the lead to 2-1.
It was one-way traffic after that as Wigan poured on the pressure. Watson nearly equalized in the 87th minute as his header off a corner was cleared off the line.
A minute later, though, the game was tied on a catastrophic goalkeeping error by Lukasz Fabianski, who had a decent game to that point. But he just flat out dropped a corner kick, and Titus Bramble was the man on the spot to head it just back over the goal line.
Arsene Wenger quickly tried to put Robin van Persie on, but Arsenal was shell-shocked, and a minute into stoppage time, N’Zogbia completed what could be the comeback of the season in the Premier League, when he drilled a left footed shot from 20 yards out off the near post and behind a rooted Fabianski, sending a rare very good crowd at the DW into celebration mode.
Wigan actually started the brighter team led by Wigan’s version of Walcott, N’Zogbia, who missed a shot in just the 11th minute. The Latics were also dangerous on a couple of set pieces.
But, about the midway portion of the first half, Arsenal started to take control and Walcott was the catalyst, running at the Wigan defense, far from the Premiership’s best. In the 33rd minute, Walcott found his way in, but chose not to shoot, played it square and the ball was cleared.
The constant threat of Walcott was finally realized in the 41st when Nicklas Bendtner played Walcott in and he ran by the entire Wigan defense and finished expertly past goalkeeper Chris Kirkland for a 1-0 Arsenal lead.
Wigan’s best player was probably midfielder Watson, and it looked like he might have earned a penalty just 45 seconds after halftime as he was pulled back by Samir Nasri. Referee Lee Mason waved it off, and replays showed contact was fairly minimal.
Arsenal appeared to put the game away three minutes later on some woeful defending off of a corner. Mikael Silvestre was left alone to head the corner in at the far post, while Wigan had two people marking the near post and no one on the far post to make it 2-0.
The rest of the game was all Wigan. At last, in Game 35 of 38, their potential was seen in a 10-minute span that will live in Wigan history for years to come.
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland; Bramble, Gohouri, Fiugeroa, Melchiot, Diame, McCarthy, Watson (Schraner 93 '), Rodallega, N'Zogbia, Moreno (Moses 61')
Arsenal: Fabianski, Silvestre, Campbell, Clichy, Sagna, Eastmond (Van Persie 90 '), Diaby, Nasri, Rosicky (Merida 80'), Bendter, Walcott (Eboue 80 ')