Dutchman continues return to form despite spot kick disasterA Robin van Persie hat-trick helped Arsenal take all three points against struggling Wigan Athletic in a game the home side won at a canter to move back into second in the table.
The Gunners made five changes to their squad as Van Persie returned to the starting line-up, resulting in Marouane Chamakh dropping to the bench. Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Gael Clichy and Cesc Fabregas also started after the midweek win against Leeds.
Samir Nasri was the first man to cause trouble for the visiting side with a shot from inside the box that tested the Wigan keeper who was forced to put it out for a corner.
It didn’t take long for another good chance to come along for Arsenal; after a fantastic diagonal cross from Gael Clichy found Nasri, the midfielder placed it in the box for Robin van Persie who should have scored from just seven yards out, but Ali Al Habsi made a great save to keep it goalless.
In an almost identical piece of play by Arsenal Theo Walcott worked his way in the box just as Nasri had, barely 10 minutes before, and found Cesc Fabregas whose close range shot was brilliantly blocked by Gary Caldwell.
Arsenal deservedly took the lead on the 22nd minute after a beautiful phase of play by the home side which consisted of a blend of perfect passing and patience. A defence-splitting ball from midfielder Alex Song found Van Persie who stayed onside by the faintest of margins to slot the ball past the Wigan 'keeper.
Wigan’s defence had to stay dogged as the north London side bombarded the Lactics’ penalty area with shots from Fabregas and Nasri having to be beaten away by a goalkeeper who had already been persistently tested.
A counter from a Wigan corner lead to a great break for Walcott who seemed to be clear to take on a shot himself just inside the area, but instead decided to give the ball to his captain, however Fabregas couldn’t get his shot past Gary Caldwell, who again had to save his team’s blushes.
Hat-trick hero | Van Persie bags all the goals as Arsenal cruise
On 38 minutes Nasri again was there to force a save from Al Habsi who tipped over a well-struck shot from 18 yards out. The resulting corner led to the shot-stopper coming into action again, this time beating out a Cesc Fabregas attempt.
Wigan made two substitutions for the second half, bringing on youngster Franco Di Santo for Mohamed Diame, and also James McArthur for Ronnie Stam.
The visitors looked a little bit brighter as the second-half started up with Hugo Rodallega having a shot blocked by Song and was nearly through again after some good passes worked the ball toward the Arsenal end.
However, it was Arsenal again who showed pure footballing initiative and extended their lead on the 58th minute after a pin-point pass from just inside the Wigan half from Fabregas reached Van Persie in the box and he smashed the ball home on the volley.
The Dutchman should have made it 3-0 deep into the half after Arsenal were rewarded with a penalty when Gary Caldwell brought him down in the area, from which he was shown a straight red card, but Van Persie couldn’t complete his hat-trick from the penalty kick after smashing the ball over the goal, much to the relief of Al Habsi.
The game quietened down towards the end, but Van Persie was in the action again on 85 minutes taking the ball off Walcott’s foot who had his back to goal and completing his hat-trick with a powerful short range shot, bouncing off Al Habsi.
Victory for Arsenal moves them into second, albeit ahead of Manchester City's game against Aston Villa, while Wigan remain in the bottom three just a point off the bottom.
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