Gunners left in tatters
Wigan produced a remarkable turnaround to come from two goals down in the last 11 minutes and earn a 3-2 triumph at home to Arsenal.
Last Updated: 18/04/10 7:37pm
Wigan produced a turnaround to match any in Premier League history as they boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation by coming from two goals down in the last 11 minutes to earn a 3-2 win and leave Arsenal's title aspirations in tatters.
With 80 minutes on the clock at the DW Stadium, Roberto Martinez's side were two goals down, lifeless and apparently resigned to defeat after a first-half strike from Theo Walcott and a Mikael Silvestre header shortly after the break.
But from absolutely nowhere Wigan staged a remarkable resurrection as first Ben Watson restored hope after meeting Victor Moses' cutback from the byline and then Titus Bramble capitalised from a dreadful blunder from Lukasz Fabianski.
Arsenal's second-choice goalkeeper started the match due to Manuel Almunia's wrist injury and he was entirely to blame for the Latics' equaliser, but he was helpless when Charles N'Zogbia curled a sensational winner in injury time.
For Wigan, the result moved Martinez's men seven points clear of the relegation zone, while defeat left Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, fresh from a midweek loss to Tottenham, devastated, stunned and six points behind leaders Chelsea with three games to play.
Spurs' victory over Chelsea on Saturday evening had given the visitors a glimmer of hope on the title front, but that has now evaporated, and they have only themselves to blame for a late collapse.
For 40 minutes here they found themselves frustrated by a Wigan side desperate for points in their battle to stay in the top flight for a sixth successive season.
After being booed off the pitch on Wednesday following a goalless draw against an already-relegated and under-strength Portsmouth side, Wigan were determined to restore the faith of their fans.
There was an improved urgency about Martinez's side in the early exchanges, but for 80 minutes they lacked a cutting edge and any real bite.
Instead it was Arsenal who were in the ascendancy, initially in the 41st minute as Nicklas Bendtner split covering defenders Maynor Figueroa and Bramble with a through ball of pace and precision.
After riding Bramble's challenge and pulling away from Figueroa, Walcott then slid the ball underneath the advancing Chris Kirkland for his seventh goal of the season.
It was deserved as Walcott should have scored minutes prior to that after Abou Diaby had released him in behind Wigan's defence.
Although left with a one-on-one opportunity with Kirkland just outside the six-yard box, he opted to try and find Bendtner with a square ball, only to pull it behind him, allowing Wigan to clear.
Walcott could, and perhaps should have given Arsenal a two-goal cushion on the stroke of half time, only to narrowly clear the bar with a rising drive from just inside the area.
Prior to Walcott's opener, Wigan were lively, but barely troubled Fabianski, playing in his first league game since the end of last season with Almunia out with a wrist injury.
N'Zogbia, rumoured to be a target for Wenger in the summer, was narrowly wide with one curled effort, while a low, powerful 20-yard drive was straight at the Pole.
As a contest, it seemed to turn inside the opening three minutes of the second half, initially after just 40 seconds as Wigan were denied a penalty.
Referee Lee Mason, who had incurred the wrath of the Wigan fans all afternoon with his decisions, infuriated the locals further by turning a blind eye to Samir Nasri's pull on the arm of Watson.
Moments later, and from Arsenal's first attack of the half, Kirkland superbly denied Diaby at close range, with the ball eventually running for a corner.
Nasri proceeded to deliver an outswinger to which Wigan's defence were guilty of falling asleep, allowing Silvestre an unmarked header from the penalty spot beyond Kirkland's outstretched grasp.
Starting for Thomas Vermaelen, who misses the end to the season with a calf strain, it was Silvestre's first goal for a year since a 4-1 win at the DW Stadium.
Wigan looked as though they were going to roll over without so much as a whimper.
N'Zogbia curled a tame effort that was easy pickings for Fabianski, on his 25th birthday, after being played in by Watson.
Watson was then denied by Fabianski who was at full stretch to prevent a low 20-yard shot from creeping inside his right-hand post, while Hugo Rodallega saw his scuffed shot trickle wide.
But then 10 minutes from time Watson hauled Wigan back into the game with a sidefoot effort from 12 yards after substitute Moses had played the midfielder in from the byline.
It was the catalyst for the comeback, aided by a howler from Fabianski, who fluffed an N'Zogbia corner, allowing Bramble a free header which crossed the line, despite Clichy's efforts to hook the ball clear.Then in the first of four minutes of added time N'Zogbia struck a beautiful curling winner from 20 yards to send the majority of the DW Stadium into raptures, and leave Arsenal's followers sickened.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||7|
|5||Shots off Target||3|