Going into the Emirates Stadium and beating an Arsenal team playing for its Champions League life was always going to be a tall task for Wigan. It turned out to be too tall, as Arsenal defeated Wigan, relegating the Latics to Championship football next season.
This gives Wigan the distinction of being the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season, per ESPN's Paul Carr:
Wigan is the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) May 14, 2013
The crushing blow was dealt by Theo Walcott, who broke a 1-1 deadlock early in the second half after a nice cross from Santi Cazorla. The Gunners went on to tally two more goals from Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey.
Wigan came into Tuesday knowing it likely needed two wins to remain in the Premier League, trailing 17th-place Sunderland by four points with a game in hand. Though a draw against Arsenal would have technically kept Wigan alive, Sunderland would have held a plus-11 goal differential, which is the tiebreaker when two teams finish with the same amount of points.
Wigan, which has played in the Premier League for eight straight seasons, always seemed to find a way to stave off relegation in the waning moments of the season.
In 2007, a win over Sheffield United on the last day of the season kept the Latics in the Premier League. In 2011, a win over Stoke City on the last day saved Wigan, which went into the day in 19th place. Last year, the team went from 19th place with six games remaining to 15th on the table after winning five of those games.
When will we next see Wigan in the Premier League?
This year, however, the magic ran dry. Now, Wigan will have to stave off other clubs from poaching its manager and top players.
Manager Roberto Martinez, often a hot name in managerial searches, could finally switch sides. Quality players like James McCarthy, James McArthur, Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney could be snatched up by top-flight teams. Wigan could quickly find itself in a full rebuilding mode.
All good things must come to an end, and Wigan was playing with fire each year, saving its best football for late in the season. In 2013, that bad habit finally caught up with the club.