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Premier League

  • January 22, 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: K. Friend
  • • Attendance: 59552
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Premier League Preview: Arsenal - Wigan Athletic

Premier League Preview: Arsenal - Wigan Athletic

Arsenal Keen To Keep The Pressure On Title Rivals

Arsenal return to Premier League action this weekend after an impressive 3-1 win over Leeds in the FA Cup, looking to maintain the pressure on their title rivals.

The Gunners have recaptured their form after a couple of rocky performances in cup competitions but they will be looking forward to the visit of Wigan.

The north London club have not beaten Wigan in their last two meetings but both matches have been at the DW Stadium.

At the Emirates it is a different story as the Latics have never beaten Wenger's side in the Premier League on their travels.

Gunners forward Andrey Arshavin is hopeful this record can continue as the title race hots up.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't beat Wigan at their stadium," he told his official website. "The next game will be held at the Emirates.

"The performance which Arsenal showed recently in the championship allows us to achieve the landslide victories, so I hope that the upcoming clash will be no exception. We need to catch up with the two Manchester teams."

Wenger will be hoping this is the case and with players such as Theo Walcott – who has already netted two more league goals than he managed in the whole of the last campaign, with all of his goals coming in Arsenal victories – in form, not many would back against them.

O Captain! My Captain!

It has not all been rosy for Arsenal this week as midfielder Denilson was quoted questioning captain Cesc Fabregas' leadership qualities in an interview held in Brazil.

The Brazilian was quoted as saying the Gunners did not have a real leader but Wenger brushed the comments aside, insisting they were mistranslated.

It is hard to see what effect these comments may have on Arsenal but the issue seems to have been dealt with as Fabregas and Denilson both posed for a photo together on the train to Leeds, which was posted on the Spanish international's Twitter account.

There has also been a surge in support for the Arsenal captain from his team-mates. England international Kieran Gibbs praised his skipper for the way he has helped him settle into the first-team squad.

He said: "I've spent quite a bit of time with him, away from training as well and for such a young person he's got such a wise head on him. Cesc has helped me greatly and I can only thank him for that."

The problem appears to have been solved by Wenger but it remains to be seen whether the comments will have any lasting effects.

Can Wigan Pull Off A Shock?

Wigan made it three draws in four Premier League games last weekend after their 1-1 draw with Fulham.

The Latics head to London with only four wins all season and their record against the Gunners does not fill many with confidence.

But in their last two games against Arsenal, albeit at home, they have snatched points.

Wigan's solitary league win over Arsenal in their history came last season when three goals in the last 10 minutes earned a 3-2 victory at the DW Stadium and killed off the Gunners' title charge.

And in December, Martinez's side earned a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Wenger's men after being reduced to 10 men for a long period of the game.

But these results have been anomalies rather than the norm as Arsenal have only been beaten once in 11 attempts by Wigan.

Martinez is in buoyant mood ahead of the trip to the capital as he has been boosted by the return to fitness of key players.

He told the club's official website: "We have a few players coming back from injury over the next few weeks which is great news for the club.

"Now we will all be together and hopefully start picking up more victories so that we can have a strong finish to the season."

"Franco is a great prospect for the future and his strength is important to us right now as well, and getting the likes of himself, James McCarthy and Victor Moses fit again will give us a massive boost.

"You're always looking to strengthen your squad at this time of the season but with their return it will improve us in a completely different way.

"All three players have world-class potential and already play a huge role in our squad."

Martinez will need all the world-class talent he can get if they are to pull of a shock at the Emirates.

Trivia

Arsenal have never tasted defeat at home against Wigan in five Premier League matches, racking up 15 goals in the process at an average of three goals a game.

The Gunners have already lost three times in the league at the Emirates this season compared with twice last term, three in the 2008/09 campaign and once in their first season at the Emirates back in 2006/07. They did not lose in the league at home during the 2007/08 campaign.

Hugo Rodallega has scored six goals this season, contributing nearly a third of his side's league goals this campaign.

This match pits the Premier Leagues higest scorers, Arsenal (45), against the lowest scorers, Wigan (19).

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal


The Gunners have slight concerns over striker Marouane Chamakh (knee) and Denilson (hip) ahead of Wigan's visit to the Emirates.

Both took knocks during Arsenal's 3-1 FA Cup replay win over Leeds but manager Arsene Wenger believes both should be able to figure.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is still hampered by a shoulder problem, while Abou Diaby (calf) and Sebastien Squillaci (hamstring) are still one week away from returns.

Possible line-up: Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Fabregas; Nasri, van Persie, Walcott.

Wigan

Franco di Santo may have to settle for a place on the bench as Roberto Martinez comes up with a system which can contain the Gunners' attacking strengths.

Tom Cleverley (hamstring) is a doubt for the visitors, who have been boosted by the news that Victor Moses (shoulder) and James McCarthy (ankle) could return in the next few weeks.

Possible line-up: Al Habsi; Stam, G Caldwell, Alcaraz, Gohouri; Figueroa, Watson, Hendry, Gomez, N'Zogbia; Rodallega.



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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Wojciech SzczesnyGoalkeeper
3Bacary SagnaDefender
6Laurent KoscielnyDefender
5Johan DjourouDefender
22Gael ClichyDefender
17Alexandre SongMidfielder
10Jack WilshereMidfielder
14Theo WalcottStriker
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
8Samir NasriMidfielder
20Robin van PersieStriker
55James SheaGoalkeeper
28Kieran GibbsDefender
15DenilsonMidfielder
10Andrey ArshavinMidfielder
27Emmanuel EboueDefender
17Nicklas BendtnerStriker
29Marouane ChamakhStriker
26Ali Al HabsiGoalkeeper
2S. GohouriDefender
5Gary CaldwellDefender
13Steven CaldwellDefender
3Maynor FigueroaDefender
21Mohamed DiameMidfielder
20H. ThomasMidfielder
-Charles N'ZogbiaMidfielder
8Ben WatsonMidfielder
-Ronnie StamDefender
20Hugo RodallegaStriker
12Mike PollittGoalkeeper
17Emmerson BoyceDefender
15Jordi GómezMidfielder
16James McCarthyMidfielder
16James McArthurMidfielder
9Franco Di SantoStriker
15Callum McManamanStriker
Prediction
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