Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Match Report:Wigan 2 Arsenal 2


A late own goal by Sebastien Squillaci salvaged a draw for 10-man Wigan which moved them out of the relegation zone and stopped Arsenal going joint top.
Wigan went ahead when Charles N'Zogbia was tripped by Laurent Koscielny in the box and Ben Watson scored the penalty.
Andrey Arshavin equalised with a superb volley into the corner before Nicklas Bendtner coolly fired Arsenal in front.
Wigan had N'Zogbia sent off late on but Squillaci headed into his own net to give the home side a deserved point.
After beating champions Chelsea 3-1 on Boxing Day, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger made eight changes to his starting XI in an effort to freshen things up, with games against Birmingham and Manchester City to come in the next seven days.
But that squad rotation left Arsenal looking ragged in the opening stages with a lack of cohesion causing possession to be wasted frequently and a nervous looking back line leaving Wenger's side exposed against the pace of N'Zogbia and power of Hugo Rodallega.
And after Rodallega missed two early opportunities, the first a header, the second a low drive easily held by Lukasz Fabianski, it was N'Zogbia who created the opening goal.
The impressive Frenchman picked up the ball and drove forward with purpose down the right before cutting infield and darting in between Vassiriki Diaby and Koscielny.
Centre-back Koscielny was left off balance on the edge of the area and tried to pull his foot out of the challenge but the winger hit the ground after minimal contact and the referee was quick to point to the spot.
Watson stepped up and smashed an unstoppable penalty into the right corner with 17 minutes on the clock.
Wigan, unbeaten in five games at the DW Stadium, looked well in control but a concern for Roberto Martinez will be that even when Arsenal were at their worst early in the first half, the home side were unable to extend the lead.
The catalyst for Arsenal's improvement finally came when Diaby left the field with a calf injury and Jack Wilshere came into the fray, bringing some much needed determination and urgency to lacklustre Arsenal.
When Arsenal's equaliser came it was a moment of inspiration from Arshavin - who had not featured against Chelsea three days earlier.
Bendtner's goal-bound shot was well saved by Ali Al Habsi but fell to Arsahvin on the edge of the area and the Russian swivelled, shaped his body and angled sumptuous volley into the corner.
Just five minutes later the turnaround was complete when Arshavin toed the ball through to Bendtner who slotted into the left corner from close range just before half time.
That really should have been the signal for championship-chasing Arsenal to move into a higher gear and dominate but Wigan showed a fighting spirit which should stand them in good stead for the second half of the season.
Chances were few and far between in the second half and it looked like below-par Arsenal would escape the DW Stadium with three points - especially when N'Zogbia was sent off with 12 minutes to play.
After a challenge by Wilshere, N'Zogbia reacted by squaring up to the midfielder and leaning his into the Englishman with his head - something which gave referee Lee Probert no choice but to show the red card.
But even the dismissal could not break the Lactics spirit and the Lancashire side received their richly-deserved reward when Arsenal's defensive Achilles heel came to the fore once again.
A deep cross caused panic in the Arsenal back line and Squillaci subsequently turned a header across goal from Rodallega into his own net.

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