Wigan beats Arsenal 2-1 to boost survival hopes
LONDON (AP) -Wigan backed up its shock victory over Manchester United by beating another Premier League giant, winning 2-1 at third-place Arsenal on Monday to boost its hopes of staving off relegation.
Arsenal was looking for a victory that would have put the team eight points clear in third but never recovered from sloppily conceding goals to Franco di Santo and Jordi Gomez in the first eight minutes.
Thomas Vermaelen halved the deficit in the 21st but the visitors held on quite comfortably in the end to record yet another superb victory in their battle to stay up, moving them five points clear of the relegation zone with four matches left.
Roberto Martinez's side stunned league leader Man United 1-0 on Wednesday and has also beaten Liverpool away in the past month.
Wigan's only loss since the start of March came at Chelsea, which scored two goals that should have been disallowed for offside, including an injury-time winner.
Arsenal's first loss at home since Jan. 22 will give renewed hope to its three rivals for the remaining two Champions League qualification spots.
Spurs and Newcastle are five points behind while Chelsea is a further two adrift. All three have a game in hand over Arsenal, which has four more matches left.
While Wigan relied on its slick passing game to defeat United, drawing plaudits from opposing manager Alex Ferguson, Martinez's men were helped out by some poor defending at Emirates Stadium.
An untimely injury to Mikel Arteta left the hosts short at the back as Wigan raced clear on the counterattack following an Arsenal corner. Gomez's cross from the left was met by a shot by Di Santo that was blocked by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, but the ball looped up kindly for the Italian striker to volley in from close range.
Arteta was off the field - to be soon replaced by Aaron Ramsey - when Wigan grabbed its second. Szczesny saved from Di Santo following good work down the left by Victor Moses, only for Gomez to apply the tap-in.
There were only 94 seconds between the two goals and, having lost all six of their Premier League matches at Arsenal, Wigan was in uncharted territory. The visitors were on the back foot for most of the remaining minutes.
Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi produced some stunning saves to twice deny Yossi Benayoun and also Robin van Persie. But he couldn't do anything about Vermaelen's bullet header from Tomas Rosicky's cross.
Despite all Arsenal's possession, Wigan could easily have restored its two-goal cushion when Moses went clean through in the 59th after more defensive carelessness by Arsenal. However, he bizarrely elected to shoot early instead of closing in on Szczesny and his weak shot was saved.
Arsenal huffed and puffed in the final 30 minutes but was short of creativity when it really mattered, leaving Wigan to claim an unlikely win.
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