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Dublin: 18°C Sunday 13 June 2021


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THE LATICS HOST the Gunners in the early kick-off.

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Wigan 0-1 Arsenal

Good afternoon. Don’t you just love this time of the year? Over the next 11 days, there are 39 Premier League matches (Arsenal v West Ham on St Stephens’ Day has been called off) to sit back an enjoy. First stop, the DW Stadium, where Arsenal will aim to move ahead of London rivals Chelsea and Spurs for a short time at least with a win over Wigan.

The big team news from an Irish perspective is that Latics midfielder James McCarthy has been deemed fit after shaking off an ankle injury. The visitors are unchanged from the side which beat Reading 5-2 on Monday night, meaning Theo Walcott plays in his preferred position up front. We’re 20 minutes away from kick off.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Boyce, Figueroa, Beausejour; McCarthy, McArthur, Jones, Di Santo, Kone, Maloney. Subs: Pollitt, Caldwell, Gomez, McManaman, Boselli, Fyvie, Golobart.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott. Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Coquelin, Ramsey, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Read Paul Fennessy’s thoughts on the weekend’s Premier League action here. Fenno fancies an away win in this one – I’m inclined to agree.

Without any recognised centre halves, Roberto Martinez has opted for McCarthy at the heart of Wigan’s defence. Will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Bakary Sagna gets forward down the right and has won Arsenal an early corner. McCarthy heads clear, Walcott retrieves before Wigan win a free-kick.

Odd. Having looked as if he was lining up in the middle of a back three, McCarthy has now switched to a position as a deep-lying midfielder.

Super play by Santi Cazorla, whose flick begins an attack which see Ali Al-Habsi make a good stop from Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s strike. Arouna Kone then goes on a solo run from midfielder. Going by two opponents, he opts to shoot instead of teeing up Ronnie Stam in a better position.

Down the other end, Lukas Podolski shoots straight at Al-Habsi. Pretty end-to-end stuff at the moment.

Another shot from Arsenal’s German international Podolski. This time, it sails well wide of the mark.

Shaun Maloney is in need of a bit of treatment after an aerial clash with Sagna leaves him with a head injury.

My word, that’s a bad miss. Franco Di Santo sets Kone on his way but the Ivorian striker drags the shot wide of the mark after beating Per Mertesacker for pace.

A couple of half-chances for Wigan to report. Stam finds himself in space on the right but gets the cross all wrong. Then Di Santo, who looks particularly lively so far, drives forward on the opposite flank. He cuts inside… but shoots wide.

Cazorla feeds Walcott moments later, but his attempt is blocked by a Wigan defender.

Yellow card for Jack Wilshere, who does like a strong challenge. He wins the ball but takes the man, which in this case is Shaun Maloney, with it.

The English midfielder then finds himself on the deck after a collision with McCarthy.

Half-time: Wigan 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott (right) turns away from Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy (centre) and David Jones. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Second half, here we go.

Timely interception from Emmerson Boyce after Oxlade Chamberlain leaves Jean Beausejour for dead. Postive start from the away side.

Best chance of the game so far. Arsenal break after McCarthy’s great run, with Cazorla finding Oxlade Chamberlain. The winger cuts the ball back for Walcott but Al-Habsi makes a super stop.

Comical moment from Ronnie Stam. The Dutchman attempts a back-heel but manages to hit it off his standing leg, forcing him to stumble. Not quite a David Dunne moment but funny nonetheless. Plus it gives me an excuse to bring out this old gem:

YouTube credit: flembobs92


GOAL! Wigan 0-1 Arsenal (Mikel Arteta)

And the Gunners are ahead. Walcott takes a tumble under a challenge from Beausejour and the Spaniard slots home. Looked a harsh enough decision to me.

Well that was bizarre. Referee Jon Moss signals for Di Santo to leave the field for a reason unknown to the player and a furious Roberto Martinez. The Argentine player spends a couple of minutes looking baffled on the sidelines while Arsenal attack against ten men. Finally he’s allowed to return. Was he sinbinned?

Sky Sports put their best detectives on the case and they’ve got to the bottom of the curious incident regarding Di Santo. Supposedly he was asked to leave the field because Moss spotted he was wearing an earring. Only took them 65 minutes to spot it.

More chances for Wigan, but they just can’t find a breakthrough. David Jones watches his latest effort fizz past the post.

Walcott drills a free-kick over the bar. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey is on for Oxlade Chamberlain while Francis Coquelin replaces Podolski.

Great run by Stam, who puts a cross into a dangerous area. With Kone lurking, Mertesacker cuts it out, however.

The home side still pushing for an illusive equaliser but have had no joy as of yet. James McArthur gets his head onto a cross but can’t direct it goalward.

Shaun Maloney leaves the field to be replaced by Jordi Gomez. Two minutes of normal time on the clock.

Bit of late drama as shouts for a Wigan penalty are turned down by Moss. Gomez, only on the pitch, fires towards Kieran Gibbs, who has his arms up at his bodies and blocks the strike.

Laurent Koscielny has been brought in for the final minutes, with Cazorla making way.

Full-time: Wigan 0-1 Arsenal

About the author:

Ben Blake