Only days after scoring an incredible victory over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final, Wigan Athletic will face another huge test this week as they travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in the English Premier League.
The Gunners are undefeated in their last eight games, and haven't been beaten at home since January. Moreover, the North London club are currently in a close battle with Tottenham Hotspur for a top-four finish, and know that their hopes of playing Champions League football could depend on a result here.
However, the Latics too have a strong desire to win here.
Currently sitting 18th in the Premier League, Wigan must win here if they're to close the gap on Sunderland and Aston Villa heading into their final game.
They'll know that a number of clubs around them have difficult fixtures in the final round and could well lose as a result of that—making it very easy for them to avoid relegation. However, they must win this week away from home in order to give themselves a chance of making that happen.
So will it be survival or the thought of the Champions League that wins here?
Read on for a full preview of this all important match including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis, prediction and more!
|Tuesday, May 14, 2013||2:45 p.m. ET||Emirates Stadium, London|
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, coverage of this game is available in the United States via Fox Soccer Channel, with Sky Sports 1 Ireland and Sky Sports 1/HD also doing the same in the United Kingdom.
FoxSoccer 2Go will also provide a live stream of the game (United States).
Recent Form and Previous Matchups
As mentioned above, Arsenal are in great form at the moment and will come into this one with a mountain of confidence, having not been beaten in their past eight games.
They've been very strong at home in that time also, and despite needing some late heroics on occasions, they have managed to chalk up big wins when they most need it—something that could well come to the fore again in this one.
However, Wigan have also been impressive, and not just regarding shutting out Manchester City to win the FA Cup—as impressive as that was to witness.
The Latics have lost just three of their past eight games, and have actually won more matches away from home this season than they have at the DW Stadium.
Arsenal did beat Wigan earlier in the year, 1-0, thanks to a Mikel Arteta penalty, but it was far from convincing for the Gunners. Wigan had plenty of shots and chances to score, but were unable to convert, and subsequently allowed the Londoners to escape with all three points on the night.
Will it be more of the same at the Emirates Stadium this week?
Key Player to Watch: Theo Walcott, ST, Arsenal
With striker Olivier Giroud still suspended for the Gunners, Theo Walcott will be the main man to watch for Arsenal as he seeks to guide their attack here.
Walcott has been strong through the middle this season and is slowly adapting into the strikers' role, even with limited opportunities. He has a big chance here, however, and against a defense that could be tired from an exhilarating game during the week, should be able to utilize his speed and quick feet to find several goal-scoring chances on the night and add to his 13-goal tally this season.
The England international has two goals in his last two games for the Gunners, having netted both inside the opening two minutes. Arsenal will be hoping he is on target again early in this one, and that he can help them grab an early advantage on the night.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: How Did Wigan's FA Cup Title Impact Them?
There is a slew of storylines to follow in this one, but the biggest of them appears to be Wigan's FA Cup triumph and how that will impact them in this game here.
The answer to that could be in any number of different ways.
The victory will no doubt inspire them, first of all, and give them the confidence that they can beat Arsenal. After all, if they can beat City and their full team on the biggest stage in England, then they could no doubt take down Arsenal without their marquee striker at the Emirates Stadium.
It'll also give them plenty of confidence that they can avoid relegation, with no FA Cup winner ever relegated from the domestic competition in the same season.
However, it must be acknowledged that the tournament win will have some negative effects on the Latics as well such as some fatigue—both physically and mentally.
Wigan have a number of injuries to deal with here, and have little time to recover (physically) from a grueling game on the weekend. There's also a strong mental aspect here, with the Latics perhaps not as switched on for this fixture as they were in front of a packed crowd at Wembley Stadium—something that Roberto Martinez will definitely have tried to stop happening in this one.
Will the positives outweigh the negatives for Wigan on the day?
Three Stats to Consider
1. Arsenal have conceded one goal in their last four home matches. However, they've also scored just one goal in each of their last three home games.
0. Wigan have not won back-to-back away matches all season.
43. Arsenal have scored 43 goals at home this season—the second most out of any team in the Premier League. Only Manchester United have scored more.
As much as the focus will be about Wigan here. and whether they can build on their incredible FA Cup success, the difference in this one will be how Arsenal plays.
The Gunners have not slipped up yet in their race for the top four, but this is by no means any easy fixture for the North London club, and without the likes of Giroud or Jack Wilshere, they may well struggle against a Wigan side still reveling in their triumph.
Wigan are an attacking team and won't be found wanting here; they'll try to attack the Gunners from the opening whistle and hurt them on the counterattack.
That will cause problems for Arsenal—who have struggled at times this year in defense—but it will also provide chances for them at the other hand. And with Walcott's pace and Santi Cazorla's driving ability in the middle of the field, they should be good for goals in this one.
And in the end, that should be enough to see the North London club through, though not before the Latics give them an almighty scare on the night.
Prediction: Arsenal 3, Wigan Athletic 2
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