Arsenal shouldn’t take their penultimate match against relegation-threatened Wigan lightly.
It is well known that a side with their backs against the wall and threatened with a return to the Championship will fight tooth and nail to stay up, and Wigan will be no different after their 3-2 loss against Swansea last night.
Despite losing the game in the end, the Latics showed how dangerous they could be in attack against the Welsh club at the DW Stadium last night. Roger Espenoza volleyed in the first goal of the match just before half time and Wigan looked to be in control.
Swansea equalised in the 50th against the run of play with a goal from Rangel, but McCarthy put the home side in front again three minutes later with a great strike, beating Vorm. It wasn’t to be Wigan’s night, though, and Swansea equalised again in the 59th through Shechter and Tiendalli hammered in the last nail when he put in the winner in the 75th minute.
The loss came through silly defensive mistakes and Roberto Martinez will work hard to hammer out any deficiencies at the back during training in the days leading up to their trip to the Emirates.
The Gunners will regret underestimating this team and Arsene Wenger should make sure his players treat it as they would a cup final, because, essentially, that’s exactly what it is for the Gunners as they are still in an extremely close battle for a top four spot and Champions League football next season.
The Emirates outfit trail third-placed Chelsea by one point and lead Tottenham Hotspur in fifth by two. The Gunners will certainly be fixed to their television screens tonight as Chelsea face spurs in one of the most crucial games of the season, for all those hunting for a top four spot concerned. Arsenal fans will experience an unfamiliar sensation as they will be rooting for their bitter rivals from west London. A Chelsea win will be the best outcome for Arsenal and will put them in a good position to finish above their north London foes Tottenham.
Should the outcome be favourable to Arsenal tonight, they’ll have to make sure they bag all three points against Wigan next Tuesday. The Latics have been in the Premier League since 2005 and will be coming with guns blazing to avoid relegation.
Arsenal have defended well in recent games and the pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny will have to keep standing firm. The Gunners’ front ranks will still be without Olivier Giroud due to suspension and perhaps Wenger should opt to play Theo Walcott down the middle in lieu of the Frenchman as Lukas Podolski has been somewhat ineffective in that role.
Also, I would like to see Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson replacing Nacho Monreal and Bacary Sagna respectively. Sagna has shown poor form of late and Jenkinson should be afforded the chance to show Wenger that he is fully capable of stepping in. Although Monreal has impressed since joining the club in January, Gibbs is the more experienced fullback in the Premier League and has also posed more of an attacking threat than the Spaniard.
Whichever team the French tactician opts to field on Tuesday should be respectful of the Wigan threat as the Latics will do anything and everything to disrupt Arsenal’s fluency. However, the Gunners can’t afford to hold back either in their pursuit of the three points that is so vital in keeping them in Europe’s top tier competition for a 16th consecutive season.
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