Wigan’s eight-season stay in the Premier League came to end on Monday night as a second half gifted Arsenal victory as they climbed back into the top-four.
Just 72 hours after beating Manchester City at Wembley to win the FA Cup the Latics are facing up to the sobering reality of life in the Championship next season after defeat at the Emirates Stadium sealed their fate.
At the opposite end of the table Arsene Wenger’s side leapfrogged north London rivals Tottenham back into fourth ahead of the final round of fixtures and are now in pole position to qualify for the Champions League.
A breathtaking start from the Gunners forged the opening goal in the 11th minute as Lukas Podolski profited from negligent Wigan marking to head in Santi Cazorla’s corner. The visitors were looking susceptible at the back and were almost undone again from a corner but were spared by Laurent Koscielny, who stabbed wide.
With the half time whistle imminent Wigan picked the appropriate moment to draw level. Shaun Maloney went down under minimal contact from Mikel Arteta and left Arsenal incensed by curling a sublime free kick past the despairing glove of Wojciech Szczesny’s from 20-yards.
Wigan carried that momentum into the second period and were only prevented from taking the lead when Szczesny got down to thwart Arouna Kone from close range after Arsenal were sliced open by a near one-two with James McCarthy. It proved a crucial save as Theo Walcott put the hosts back in front just after the hour, converting Cazorla’s cross from inside the six-yard box.
And there was no coming back for Roberto Martinez’s side five minutes later. Paul Scharner played Podolski onside as he raced on to Cazorla’s headed and the German international showed great poise to lift the ball beyond Joel Robles. Aaron Ramsey applied the gloss with 19 minutes remaining as he charged into the penalty area from the left and fizzed the ball past Joel to consign Wigan to the second tier of English football.
Arsene Wenger post-match…“First of all I’m happy we won the game, after 20 minutes we became too conservative and let Wigan back into the game. We had problems keeping the ball. But when they got tired after the Cup final, we got a good win as it was becoming difficult for them.”
Roberto Martinez post-match…“I never expected this. I know we were in a difficult position, but the players are an incredible bunch and they don’t deserve this. It’s a tough day for the football club. We had an incredible eight years in the Premier League and we need to build for the future.
Man of the Match…Lukas Podolski: Got Arsenal up and running with the first goal after 11 minutes and bagged the crucial third mid-way through the second half to
Flop of the Match…Paul Scharner: