Arsenal-Wigan: Gunners Entertain Wigan in Must-Win EPL Game

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2009

WIGAN, ENGLAND - APRIL 11: Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal battles with Titus Bramble of Wigan during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal at The JJB Stadium on April 11, 2009 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Manchester and London derbies taking place this weekend are occupying all the headlines, but on Saturday, Arsenal entertain Wigan in what is bound to be an open game of football.

Arsene Wenger and Roberto Martinez both profess to play open, attacking football.

Last season, when Wigan were under the stewardship of current Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, Arsenal ran out winners on both occasions.

Arsenal's 1-0 home win was overshadowed by the booing of Emmanuel Eboue, who suffered the indignity of being subbed although he himself was a substitute.

To his credit, Eboue kept his head down, didn't run to the media with the "woe me" tales and has played in any position Arsene Wenger has asked of him.

In the return fixture at the then JJB Stadium, Arsenal ran out 4-1 winners.

Wigan went 1-0 up early in the first half through Mido, but the Gunners came roaring back in the second half with goals from Mikael Silvestre, Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin, and Alex Song.



The London side come into this game off the back of two successive defeats in the Premier League as they lost on both trips to Manchester.

However, they will be boosted by their stirring comeback in midweek against Belgian Champions Standard Liege in the UEFA Champions League.

Being down 2-0 with barely five minutes on the clock, Arsenal fought back with three unanswered goals from Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen, and Eduardo da Silva.

Although the performance was as far from vintage as they come and the second goal was very fortuitous, the Gunners can take heart from winning a game that they may have folded in previously.

Arsene Wenger has plenty of injury worries ahead of the game.

Manuel Almunia has not fully recovered from his chest infection, and with Fabianski still injured, third choice keeper Vito Mannone will continue in goal.

Meanwhile, midfielder Denilson's back injury is worse than originally feared and he will be out for weeks.

Theo Walcott is not yet fully fit to take his place on the bench, while Andrey Arshavin is rated as having just a 10 percent chance of taking any part.

Samir Nasri, Johan Djourou, and Carlos Vela all remain on the long-term injury list.

Good news comes in the form of striker Robin van Persie, who is expected to be passed fit for tomorrow.

The continual good performance of Tomas Rosicky must also give Arsenal heart as he shows little rustiness from his 18 months on the sidelines.



It has been a topsy-turvy start to Martinez's stewardship of Wigan.

Bringing with him the fluid football for which he became known for at Swansea, Martinez started his tenure with an impressive 2-0 away victory over Aston Villa.

That was followed by successive defeats of Wolves, Manchester United, Blackpool, and Everton.

In their last game, Wigan overcame West Ham in a scrappy affair thanks to a strike from Hugo Rodallega.

Unlike Arsenal, Wigan have no injury worries ahead of their trip to the Emirates.

They welcome back midfielder Oliver Kapo from a knee ligament injury, although the best he can hope for is a place on the bench as he is yet to get back to full fitness.



This is a must-win game for Arsene Wenger's side if it doesn't want a repeat of last season, which saw it fall away from the leading pack very early in the season.

Both sides are capable of scoring goals, but are also capable of getting caught out at the back.

If Wigan come to play an open game of football, it will suit Arsenal perfectly in front of their own fans.

Expect goals and an Arsenal victory.


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