Arsenal will welcome Wigan Athletic to Emirates Stadium this Tuesday where the two teams will face each other in a Premier League fixture that is extremely crucial to both, but for different reasons.
Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday all but guaranteed them a place in next season’s Champions League competition. The Blues’ goal difference is so strong that their third place is highly unlikely to be overtaken by the fifth-placed Tottenham even if the latter win both their remaining games. It leaves just one Champions League spot undecided which is currently occupied by the Gunners, and that makes this upcoming fixture of theirs against the Latics so important.
At the moment, Arsenal’s top-four destiny is in their own hands but anything less than a victory would change that, unless Spurs too drop points against Stoke tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Wigan are languishing in 18th position on the league table and need to overcome the three-point gap that exists between themselves and the trio of clubs above them in order to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Arsenal’s odds against Wigan suggest that they should win this home encounter quite easily, but the visitors’ recent upset of Manchester City in the FA Cup final indicates this one could get tricky if the hosts aren’t careful. Coach Roberto Martinez’s men were brilliant against the Citizens on Saturday and fully deserved their 1-0 win, which enabled them to lift their first major cup competition trophy.
Midfielder Abou Diaby is out for season, while goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is still nursing his rib injury. Striker Olivier is serving the last of his three-match ban for his red card against Fulham.
Wigan Team News
Wigan have a massive injury list, with six of their first-teamers missing due to various injuries. The names of those absentees are Jean Beausejour, Michael Pollitt, Ivan Ramis, Albert Crusat, Maynor Figueroa and Antolin Alcaraz.
Arsenal have won three of their last four games against Wigan, outscoring the North West minnows by 9-2 in the process.
When these two teams met at DW Stadium back in December, Wigan were more dominant and had more chances, but Arsenal still won due to a Mikel Arteta-penalty kick.
Players to Watch
“Actions speak louder than words. His display was outstanding. I think he’s a real diamond of English football,” said Roberto Mancini of Wigan youngster Callum McManaman, who was simply outstanding in his club’s FA Cup triumph.
The 21-year-old winger’s direct running and superb dribbling ability was a constant nuisance for the City defence, and even though he might not be fully fresh against Arsenal, he surely has all the ingredients to harass the Londoners’ backline.
For Arsenal, Theo Walcott has scored crucial goals in both of his sides last two games. In the absence of Giroud, the former Southampton man is Arsene Wenger’s main goal scoring threat. He also earned the winning penalty when these two played each other earlier this season.
The Latics played a full-strength side against City on Saturday, and so their energy levels just three days after such a big game may not be that high. On the other hand, the Gunners had this weekend off, meaning that they have had almost 10 days to prepare for this one.
Also, there is a chance that Martinez and company could still be a bit hungover from their historic cup win when they show up at Emirates. Hence, a home victory, though not comfortable, is the likeliest of outcomes here.
Arsenal 1-0 Wigan Athletic
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