Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
On paper, it looks an easy enough prediction to make. With 27 points, Arsenal is tied in fifth place with two other teams and just two points behind Chelsea and Tottenham for third place in the Premier League. With 15 points on the year, Wigan is in 18th place and currently stuck in the dreaded relegation zone.
Obviously, this is a game Arsenal will feel it must win.
But with the Gunners these days, nothing is certain. If it were, Arsenal wouldn't have been knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Bradford City in penalties. Surely, Wigan will take some confidence from that result.
If you aren't adverse to waking up early on a Saturday morning, I suggest you check out the inconsistent, yet entertaining, Gunners, as they face this struggling Wigan side. I promise, it will be a better game than it sounds.
Where: DW Stadium, Wigan, Greater Manchester, England
When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 7:45 a.m. E.T
Watch: ESPN; WatchESPN
What They're Saying
Arsenal has become known as a feeder club in recent years, seeing most of its top talent head out. So the announcement that the club had just signed long-term extensions with five young players (not named Theo Walcott, of course) was excellent news for the club, notes The Guardian:
Arsenal have secured long-term deals for five of their young British players, with Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson all signing contract extensions.
The club have lost several top players in recent years, including Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Cesc Fábregas to Barcelona, so the announcement comes as a significant boost at a difficult time for Arsène Wenger.
Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular are thought to be top talents for the future, so keeping them Gunners will be key to the next 10 years of the club's existence.
Most Important Player to Watch: Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
Cazorla has been the Gunners most lethal player all season, combining vision, creativity, attacking flair and the ability to let it rip from distance into one beautiful package. He's not only been arguably the top newcomer to the Premier League this season, he's also been Arsenal's best player.
The Gunners can get into nasty, goal-scoring slumps, so if Cazorla isn't on his game the team could be in trouble. With no Robin van Persie to hold down the attack this year, the Gunners have relied on the flashy Spaniard to spark the offense.
Fellow newcomers Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have been solid, if unspectacular, but no player is currently more important to Arsenal than Cazorla.
Key Matchup: Arouna Koné vs. Arsenal Defense
The Gunners started this season playing some of the stingiest defense in the Premier League, much to the surprise of most. After all, Arsenal has never been adverse to an exciting, 3-2 win. But as the league season has worn on, that stingy defense has increasingly grown more generous, especially against set pieces.
Arouna Koné is currently Wigan's leading scorer, with four goals on the season. That's nearly one-fourth of the goals the team has scored in total. Ouch. If Wigan is to find a gap in Arsenal's defense, Koné is going to be the man to do it.
If Arsenal keeps him at bay, the Gunners should be able to secure the clean sheet.
Arsenal is fresh off a 5-2 victory over Reading, so I think the goals keep on coming. The Gunners take this one, 5-2.
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