Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wigan Athletic 1-4 Arsenal

Arshavin the Best
Andrei Arshavin celebrates his goal against Wigan with captain Cesc Fabregas-reuters

A blistering fightback at Wigan will give Arsenal a great boost ahead of the return leg of their Champions League clash.

The scores are locked at 1-1 but the Gunners proved against Wigan they have the firepower to make the semi-finals.

Wigan were left stunned by a breathtaking second half-performance after taking the lead through Mido.

That was when all the goals came first from Theo Walcott, then Mikael Silvestre and finally Andrey Arshavin and Alexandre Song.

However, referee Alan Wiley sparked controversy in first half stoppage-time by handing only a yellow card to Keiran Gibbs after he hauled back Antonio Valencia. To complete Wigan's misery Ben Watson's free-kick smacked the post.

Arsenal were rocked in the 18th minute when Wigan took the lead from a set-play.

Watson swung in the corner and Emmerson Boyce headed it forward. Bacary Sagna only half cleared the ball to Mido.

The Egyptian striker struck a firm shot but Lukasz Fabianski looked culpable and helped it into the net.

Nicklas Bendtner headed wide following a cross from Arshavin as Arsenal attempted to get back on level terms.

Bendtner then made space for himself on the edge of the area only to drill his effort wide of the target.

Arsenal were left exposed four minutes later and Mario Melchiot was able to make a surging run down the right.

He attempted to pick out Mido who had raced into the area but Johan Djourou was able to make an important clearance.

It was Djourou's last kick of the ball, however, as he was carried off with Silvestre replacing him.

Arsenal were looking a bit lethargic and finding it difficult to break Wigan down.

Silvestre, however, got on the end of a free-kick from Cesc Fabregas in the 42nd minute but failed to get a decent touch and Wigan were able to scramble the ball to safety.

Fabianski was looking fragile and almost conceded a second goal when he came racing out to try and beat Mido to a header.

He chose the wrong option as the striker got there first but Gibbs showed good composure to clear his header off the line.

Mido was struggling after taking a number of knocks and was given a generous round of applause when he came off in the 58th minute. He was replaced by Olivier Kapo.

Three minutes later Arsenal were level after Arshavin threaded the ball through to Walcott.

He steadied himself and rifled a shot into the corner beyond goalkeeper Chris Kirkland to make it 1-1.

It was only Walcott's second league goal of the season but his seventh overall in the campaign.

He came off in the 68th minute with Emmanuel Adebayor coming on for a late run-out.

Arsenal had suddenly stepped up a gear and went ahead after 71 minutes with a simple goal that has become their trademark.

Arshavin prodded the ball into the path of Fabregas and he immediately released Silvestre, who made no mistake from close range for his second goal of the campaign.

Arshavin then added a third on the stroke of full time when he capitalised on a mistake by substitute Jason Koumas.

Song completed Wigan's misery in the stoppage time with a fourth after a surging run.

It was an amazing finish to the game and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was entitled to a smile of satisfaction after looking so frustrated for long periods.


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