Rating the Arsenal Players Against Wigan
Arsenal thrashed Wigan to stay on course for a Champions League place.
This was a huge game, with both sides facing a relegation of sorts. Wigan were playing with their Premier League place at stake, whereas Arsenal stood to lose their invaluable spot in the top four.
It was the Gunners who ultimately triumphed, although it wasn't quite as comfortable as the scoreline suggests. For a half-hour period, Wigan had Arsene Wenger's team on the ropes. However, fatigue and familiar errors eventually doomed the Latics to defeat and the Championship.
Arsenal now go to Newcastle on Sunday knowing that a win will guarantee them a place at European football's top table.
Go to the next slide to see how Arsenal's players rated in this enthralling clash.
GK Wojciech Szczesny (6/10)
The Polish goalkeeper will have been disappointed that Shaun Maloney's dipping free-kick beat him at the near post. Maloney scored with an identical effort at QPR a few weeks ago, and Wojciech Szczesny should have been conscious of the Scotman's intentions.
However, the young shot-stopper did redeem himself somewhat with an excellent second-half save to deny Arouna Kone.
DR Bacary Sagna (7/10)
Bacary Sagna's key contribution of a solid display was a slide-rule pass down the flank to release Santi Cazorla for Arsenal's second goal. The Frenchman did well going forward in this match, occupying the dangerous Roger Espinoza.
At the end of the match, the Arsenal players embarked on a lap of the Emirates turf, saluting their supporters. Sagna was the last off the pitch, accompanied by his two children and waving fondly to the crowd. Might this have been Sagna's last appearance at the Emirates?
CB Per Mertesacker (8/10)
Per Mertesacker has arguably been Arsenal's most consistent player this season, and this performance typified his reliable, efficient style at the heart of the defence.
Mertesacker was faced with a forward, Arouna Kone, who is significantly quicker than him. However, his positional intelligence and unerring calm helped Arsenal to keep Wigan at bay.
CB Laurent Koscielny (8/10)
Laurent Koscielny has flourished since returning to the starting lineup, and this game was no exception. One acrobatic clearance in the first half took the breath away as well as instantly snuffing out the chance.
In Mertesacker and Koscielny, Arsene Wenger has stumbled upon a defensive partnership that could be the basis of next season's team.
DL Kieran Gibbs (8/10)
Arsene Wenger elected to go with Kieran Gibbs rather than Nacho Monreal to tame the sprightly Callum McManaman, and Gibbs responded with a diligent display.
Throughout the match, the young defender was regularly in dialogue with assistant coach Steve Bould, and it paid dividends as he kept Wigan's most in-form player quiet for long spells.
The battle between Monreal and Gibbs should be fascinating in 2013-14.
CM Mikel Arteta (7/10)
It was often said of the great defensive midfielder Gilberto Silva, Arsenal's one-time "Invisible Wall," that if he was having a good game, you wouldn't notice him.
The same is becoming true of Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard went about his job quietly and effectively against Wigan, denying the influential James McCarthy space in the midfield area.
His late injury could prove very costly to Arsenal's hopes of beating Newcastle on Sunday.
CM Aaron Ramsey (8/10)
Aaron Ramsey worked as tirelessly as anyone on the pitch and absolutely deserved his goal.
It was surprising to see him finish so well, as the Welshman has found goals hard to come by of late. His evolution from bane of the Arsenal fans to bright young thing continues apace.
AM Tomas Rosicky (7/10)
It is difficult to think of another player like Tomas Rosicky. He is ostensibly a creative midfielder, occupying the coveted No. 10 role. However, he spends as much time sliding in to tackles as splitting defences.
In this match we saw more of his graft than his guile, but he was still an effective component of the Arsenal midfield.
Jack Wilshere (7/10)
Jack Wilshere's class helped Arsenal see out the game as well as launching a couple of rapier counterattacks.
Thomas Vermaelen (6/10)
The skipper, Thomas Vermaelen, was introduced as a late substitute for his injured deputy, Mikel Arteta. Could he be pressed into service in the defensive midfield role at Newcastle?
RW Theo Walcott (9/10)
Theo Walcott was outstanding against Wigan. From the very first minute, he looked determined to have an impact on this match. Grabbing the crucial second goal for Arsenal turned the game and essentially secured three points. From then on, Wigan looked doomed.
What was particularly exemplary about this Walcott performance was his willingness to track back. On more than one occasion, he raced into his own penalty area to support Bacary Sagna against the combined threat of Roger Espinoza and Shaun Maloney.
CF Lukas Podolski (8/10)
Lukas Podolski was quiet for long periods of this game, but it's hard to argue with his tally of two goals on the night.
Both were good finishes: For the first, he reacted quickly to nod a bouncing ball beyond the defenders on the line; for the second, he lofted a beautiful shot over the advancing goalkeeper.
At times he was a little slow to get into the box to meet the crosses Walcott was regularly supplying, but there can be no disputing that Podolski is a lethal finisher.
LW Santi Cazorla (9/10)
Santi Cazorla is a little magician. Playing for the left-hand side, he is a nightmare for defenders to mark. He drifts in-field with license to roam and can pop up anywhere.
When he does find space, he is devastatingly effective. He ended the game with an incredible four assists and would have had another but for a cruel offside flag.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6/10)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's energy and enthusiasm gave Arsenal a new outlet on the counterattack. Had his final ball been better, Arsenal might have grabbed an extra goal or two.
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