Rosicky claims Gunners win
By Simon Fudge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsenal moved to within a point of Liverpool after a 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic.
Arsenal moved to within a point of third-placed Liverpool after coming from a goal down to defeat a spirited Wigan Athletic side 2-1.
The Gunners made hard work of their home clash with The Latics, as Denny Lanzaat sensationally gave Wigan a half-time lead with a fine long-distance strike.
In fact, the Premiership strugglers should have ncreased their lead, but Emile Heskey squandered two great chances before Arsenal claimed victory in the final nine minutes at The Emirates Stadium.
An unfortunate Fitz Hall own-goal brought the North Londoners level before Tomas Rosicky headed home Arsenal's winner.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger brought back Theo Walcott and Julio Baptista to the starting XI, while Johan Djourou came in at centre-back for the suspended Philippe Senderos.
Walcott and Baptista's inclusion meant Emmanuel Adebayor and Mathieu Flamini were left on the substitutes' bench.
Wigan boss Paul Jewell, meanwhile, brought back striker Heskey, left-back Leighton Baines and right-back Hall to his starting line-up.
Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was also available to start for The Latics, despite a shoulder injury keeping out of England's midweek friendly with Spain on Wednesday.
Despite the perilous position of being fourth from bottom, Wigan's organisation and attacking intent unsettled Arsenal throughout the first 45 minutes.
In fact, it was an open start from both sides at The Emirates, with Wigan's Lee McCulloch heading a flicked throw-in high over Jens Lehmann's crossbar.
McCulloch then caused more concern for Arsenal's back-line when his cross from the left deflected off of Justin Hoyte to Heskey at the far post, but the former Liverpool and Birmingham City hit-man was unable to direct his shot on target.
Buoyed by the home crowd, The Gunners soon responded with captain Thierry Henry forcing Kirkland into a routine save with a long-range free kick before Rosicky saw his effort find the mid-section of the England custodian.
The Latics were not happy to keep their hosts at bay and had efforts of their own, with Lehmann needing to make a decent stop to Landzaat's fierce strike before Rosicky missed the target with a close-range effort after Henry had put him through at the other end.
Henry then wasted a better Arsenal chance on the counter-attack, with the France international sailing a strike high and wide of the target after Walcott had picked him out unmarked at the far post.
Baines then wasted an excellent Wigan chance after his byline cross from the left flew into arms of Lehmann before another Henry free-kick brought another confident save from Kirkland.
Wigan's defence then had a brief scare when Emmerson Boyce nearly sliced Rosicky's low cross from left into own net, but he was relieved to see the ball fly just past the far post.
Jewell's side were frustrating their hosts as the half went on, and they made life more difficult for Arsenal when they claimed the lead with a stunning strike from Landzaat on 35 minutes.
After January signing Julius Aghahowa had done well to chase down Matt Jackson's ball forward, the Nigerian striker's pass was inadvertently cleared out to Landzaat.
The former AZ Alkmaar man then teed up a right-foot strike from long-range, and with a bit of movement in the air, sailed the ball past a helpless Lehmann for only his second goal of the season.
The goal stunned The Gunners, and they were fortunate not to be two goals down before the break, as Lehmann just got his finger tips to Heskey's first-time strike to deflect the ball onto the post before it was cleared.
Arsenal should then have levelled with the last real action of the half, but Henry's leaping header went past the far post after he connected with Gael Clichy's byline cross.
The second half saw more attacking purpose from Arsenal, but Heskey had another superb chance to increase Wigan's lead shortly after the restart.
The former England striker latched on to Ryan Taylor's forward ball before lobbing his shot over Lehmann's crossbar.
Despite holding a slender one-goal lead, Arsenal struggled to break Wigan's resilient defence down, with Julio Baptista firing wide after Rosicky headed the ball into his path on the edge of the box.
Walcott then wasted another Arsenal chance, as he woefully struck Hall's poor clearance high and wide of Kirkland's goal.
At the other end, Josip Skoko nearly emulated team-mate Landzaat with a rasping drive that flew just over Lehmann's crossbar after Hoyte failed to deal with Baines's cross from the left.
Still in search of an equaliser, Wenger introduced Jeremie Aliadiere and Flamini for Hoyte and Walcott, but Wigan were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty.
Flamini was fortunate to get away with a tug on Heskey's shirt, as both players went for the ball in the Arsenal box, but referee Phil Dowd waved away any appeals.
Latics boss Jewell was then left fuming even more, as Arsenal pulled level nine minutes from the end.
Substitute Adebayor picked out Flamini on the right flank, and despite the Frenchman looking to be in an offside position, his low cross saw a sliding Hall get an unfortunate touch to the ball to put it into his own net for 1-1.
The goal swung the momentum in Arsenal's favour, and after Henry missed a decent chance for a winner, fine play saw Adebayor again feed a ball forward to Baptista on the left and his fine cross found Rosicky unmarked to head home his first goal in the Premiership.
The result keeps Arsenal within touching distance of Liverpool and third place, while Wigan missed the chance to put more distance between themselves and the Premiership's bottom three.
Click here for Arsenal v Wigan Athletic player ratings
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|10||Shots off Target||7|