An easy win for the home side against a poor display from the Lactics
Arsenal started the game with positive intent as they began to dominate early on creating chance after chance went begging. Wigan were forced to stay awake at the back as the home side pummelled their defence and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was on hand to keep out any shot that came his way. The deadlock was finally broken after a wonderful passing play by Arsenal and a perfect ball from Alex Song reached Robin Van Persie who blasted the ball past the Omani keeper. As the first half ended the stats showed a complete contrast to the score; Arsenal’s shot attempts within the first 45 minutes stood at 13, with 11 of those hitting the target. Meanwhile Wigan had yet to even conjure up even the slightest hint of a shot.
It was Wigan who came out brighter of the two sides after half-time and showed some positive attacking play for the first time in the game. Hugo Rodallega had some early chances, but the Arsenal defence stayed firm. Van Persie doubled his tally after a sublime long ball from Fabregas found him deep in the Wigan box and the Dutchman struck it first time on the volley. The striker should have completed his hatrick with a penalty after he was brought down just yards from goal by Gary Caldwell, who was shown an immediate red for his disastrous tackle, but Van Persie smashed the ball over the bar. But Van Persie was not put off by his poor effort and struck for the third time in the last five minutes with a shot from just three yards out after taking the ball off of Walcott’s foot and completed a comfortable win for Arsenal.
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 Gail 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 safe 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 a strong 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 that found Robin 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 on giving the ball to his captain, however Fabregas couldn’t get his shot passed Gary Caldwell, who again had to save his team’s blushes.
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 to come 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 that 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 Robin Van Persie in the box and 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 hatrick 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 Robin Van Persie was in the action again on 85 minutes taking the ball off of Walcott’s foot who had his back to goal and completed his hatrick with a powerful short range shot, bouncing off Al Habsi.