Two goals in a minute earn the Latics a superb win in their fight for Premier League survival, making it four wins in five as the Gunners rue several missed chances
Franco Di Santo and Jordi Gomez scored within seconds of each other to put Wigan 2-0 up after only eight minutes, before Thomas Vermaelen’s header pulled one back for the hosts.
But Wigan held on for the win, meaning the Roberto Martinez’s side have now won four of their last five Premier League games and they now sit five points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsene Wenger made just one change to the Arsenal side from their 3-0 win over Wolves, bringing in Tomasz Rosicky to replace Aaron Ramsey in midfield, while Kieran Gibbs returned to the bench from injury.
Martinez was forced to make one change from Wigan’s win over Manchester United after Shaun Maloney picked up a knee injury in training, so Jordi Gomez got the nod as the Latics lined up in a 3-4-3 formation.
Arsenal started brightly, moving the ball around confidently. Thomas Vermaelen struck a low driven effort from distance which flew just wide of Ali Al-Habsi’s left-hand post.
But it was the visitors who took an early lead. Wigan made a sweeping counter attack and Di Santo was played through for a one-on-one, then lifted the ball over Wojciech Szczesny before tapping into an empty net.
Arsenal were left completely stunned when Wigan doubled their lead seconds later. Victor Moses produced some superb skill to drive in a low cross from the left and the ball broke to Gomez, who stabbed home from close range at the second time of asking after Szczesny spilled his initial attempt.
Amid the chaos, the Gunners lost Arteta to injury, forcing an early change as Ramsey came on to replace the stricken Spaniard.
After Al-Habsi produced a stunning save to tip over a Yossi Benayoun header, Wenger’s side then found themselves deservedly back in the game on twenty minutes. The excellent Rosicky provided an inch-perfect cross for Vermaelen to power in a low header and reduce the deficit to one.
Arsenal were dominating possession, with much of their play going through Rosicky. The Czech international produced a sparkling run into the Wigan box but his chipped cross floated over the crossbar.
The Latics did produce some openings of their own, however. Moses worked the ball out wide to Di Santo as Wigan formed another threatening counter-attack, but the Argentine’s low cross was scrambled clear by Djourou.
A Van Persie free-kick and a Gomez strike at the other end both missed the target shortly before half-time as the Latics maintained their lead at the break.
Arsenal nearly restored parity immediately after the restart. Andre Santos struck a low drive and Al-Habsi’s parry just escaped an oncoming Van Persie.
Moses then produced another fine piece of skill, flying past Bacary Sagna on the left and hammering a low shot which Szczesny did well to parry.
The end-to-end nature of the game was relentless as Van Persie pulled back to Santos who should have done better as he poked the ball wide of goal. Then the superb Moses broke free after a long throw caused a defensive mix-up, but he shot early and the ball rolled comfortably into Szczesny’s arms.
Gervinho replaced Benayoun on the hour, then shortly after another Wigan break saw a Gomez volley blasted over, Wenger reacted by bringing on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Djourou, much to the delight of the increasingly restless home fans.
Van Persie produced a dangerous corner from the left which sparked a scramble in the Wigan six-yard box, but the Latics eventually managed to clear.
The Dutchman then had a chance of his own as he tried to flick a Sagna cross towards goal, but it was a difficult position and Wigan survived another Arsenal attack.
Walcott then made a darting run forward and fell under a strong Maynor Figueroa challenge, but referee Andre Mariner saw no foul play in the defender’s challenge and allowed play to continue.
Al-Habsi picked up a yellow card for time wasting in stoppage time as Wigan were trying everything they could to hold out for the victory, and substitute Mohamed Diame almost made it 3-1 as he drove a low shot towards Szczesny's near post, but the Pole was more than equal to it.
But Arsenal couldn't find the all-important equaliser and the Latics held on for a superb victory.