Wigan Athletic Vs Arsenal, Wed 29 Dec 2010

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Roberto Martinez believes there are comparisons with the positive impact loan spells at less glamorous Premier League destinations will have on the careers of Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere.

The precocious pair could go head to head at the DW Stadium when Wigan entertain an Arsenal side buoyed by their magnificent win over Chelsea last night.

It promises to be an intriguing tussle, as well as a glimpse into what might be for Manchester United when Cleverley does return to Old Trafford.

For, just as 18-year-old Wilshere improved markedly as a direct result of spending the second half of last term at Bolton, so Martinez can see 21-year-old Cleverley developing just as quickly thanks to his spell at Wigan.

"I cannot see a reason for that not to happen," said the Latics chief. "Tom is playing well and improving all the time.

"He will go as high in the game as he wants. I have no doubts about that. He can be a massive player for Manchester United. When your attitude and personality are right, it allows your football talent to shine."

Cleverley will approach the clash with the confidence of someone who scored in Sunday's vital win over Wolves that took the Latics out of the relegation zone.

Arsenal are going to present a completely different challenge, especially now the Gunners have re-established themselves as championship contenders.

Not that Martinez was surprised at the majesty of the Londoners' performance at the Emirates.

"Not at all," he replied. We know what Arsenal are capable of and last night they looked really impressive.

"The way they moved the ball, the pressure they put on and the quality in the last third; that was Arsenal at their best.

"They are magnificent to watch and if they can carry on at that level, you could see a very special side for many years to come."

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas must serve a one-match suspension at Wigan after picking up his fifth yellow card in the Premier League win over Chelsea.

Despite the loss of their skipper, Theo Walcott is confident the Gunners can kick on and back up their impressive performance over the Blues.

"We can't dwell on this result. We could be disappointed if we win against Chelsea and then lose at Wigan," said Walcott, who helped create Arsenal's second goal just after the break and then netted a quick-fire third to put the hosts in command.

"All the fans, you could sense the atmosphere, the fans were right up for it, just like the players were and we just didn't let Chelsea play.

"We were ready and wanted to do it for our fans because in recent years we let them down in these big matches and we just need to build on that now."

While Chelsea may not have presented the same challenge as in previous meetings, Arsenal nevertheless were good value for what could prove to be a big three points.

Alex Song swept them ahead just before half-time, before Walcott and Fabregas capitalised on some poor Chelsea defending to put the game beyond the visitors.

England international Walcott was glad to finally see Arsenal come good when it mattered.

"It was nice to see an Arsenal team actually do everything right and hopefully we will just continue to do that," he said.

"All 11 players defensively were pressing at the right moments and we made Chelsea look quite average at times, but they are such a strong team and will be right at the top come the end of the season."

Abou Diaby, fit again after an ankle problem, could start alongside Russian winger Andrey Arshavin, who was an unused substitute against Chelsea.

Striker Marouane Chamakh and centre-back Sebastien Squillaci are also in contention but Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles), goalkeeper Manuel Almunia (ankle) and Kieran Gibbs (ankle) are out.

Team (from): Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Wilshere, Walcott, van Persie, Nasri, Szczesny, Rosicky, Squillaci, Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner, Vela.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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