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Latics v Arsenal Match Preview

Wigan Athletic

DW Stadium

22nd December, 2012


On Sky

Arsenal will be looking to build on Monday's stroll against Reading with another victory against Roberto Martinez's injury hit Wigan side.

With their Boxing Day match now postponed, Arsenal are likely to lose ground in the race for 4th- albeit with a game spare- and will look to make sure the table makes as pleasant reading as possible come 2013.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger was effusive in his praise for Wigan's set up, particularly their scouting model, in unearthing players,

'They always have good players. They always have technically talented players and they scout countries where nobody else goes.

'They have for me an intelligent idea they say, 'if we go to France, Germany, we face Arsenal, Man City, so let`s go where nobody goes`.

"There must be a good player in every country and usually they find him. They have done that very well."

Meanwhile Roberto Martinez says his side have to be 'perfect' to beat Arsenal, ''We know we need to be perfect to be able to compete against this Arsenal side but, in this situation, if we can get a positive result and a strong performance, I think we'll reap the rewards further down the line when we've got the full squad ready.

'We'll never be happy if we're not in a position that we feel we should be, but I think the performances have been very similar to the ones we had in the final nine games of last season and I'm very pleased with that.'

Wigan Athletic Team News:

Midfield cog James McCarthy faces a late fitness test before deciding whether he will be ok to face Arsenal, whilst Adrian Lopez deepened Wigan's centre half crisis by tearing his mastring against Norwich last Saturday.

Ryo Miyachi would have been inelegible to play in any case, but has an ankle injury. Ben Watson (broken leg) and Albert Crusat (knee) are other long term concerns.

Gary Caldwell (hamstring), Ivan Ramis (hamstring) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin) are also unavailable.

Wigan Athletic (from): Al Habsi, Pollitt, Boyce, Stam, Golobart, Figueroa, Stam, Maloney, Jones, McCarthy, McArthur, Mcmanaman, Fyvie, di Santo, Kone, Gomez, Boselli, Beausejour.

Player to watch: Shaun Maloney

Assuming James McCarthy doesn't pass a fitness test, then Shaun Maloney could pose the biggest danger to Arsenal. The Gunners have had a habit this season of backing off of midfielders from range.

Maloney is certainly capable of letting fly from range. He also has a cool head in the box. If Arsenal allow him a chance anywhere in their defensive third, he can punish.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal have no new injury concerns but no returnees either, so will take the same squad to Lanchasire that travelled to Berkshire on Monday.

That means Abou Diaby (thigh), Andre Santos (stomach / being sold in January), Johan Djourou (calf / being sold in January), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) are out.

Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Gibbs, Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, S.Cazorla, Rosicky, Walcott, Chamberlain, Gervinho, Podolski, Arshavin, Chamakh, Giroud.

Player to watch: Theo Walcott

Having had a 90 minute soiree as a centre forward on Monday, it will be interesting to see where Theo is played tomorrow. I would suggest back on the right hand side.

Gunnerblog wrote an interesting piece this week suggesting that Arsenal play much better with a more mobile striker, such as Gervinho or Walcott.

Match Facts & Stats

Thomas Vermaelen has scored in his last three appearances against Wigan Athletic.

The Latics have conceded seven goals to defenders in the Premier League this season; more than any other side.

The Gunners have won four and lost just one of their seven Premier League visits to the DW Stadium and overall they have won 10 and lost just two of the 14 meetings with Wigan.

Wigan have lost five and won just one of their last seven Premier League matches.

Arsenal have averaged 60% possession in their games so far this season, Wigan average 58% in their home fixtures.

Ref Watch:

The referee will be Jon Moss. I've never heard of him either.

Match Prediction:

I'm fairly confident here. Wigan's injuries don't mean a lot I don't think, if Bradford can shut us out effectively, it's hard to derive any satisfaction from that. But I think Arsenal will outnumber Wigan in midfield and win 2-0. Arteta and Walcott to score.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal play Newcastle United next Saturday at home. Wigan are away at Everton on Boxing Day.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Friday December 21 2012
Time: 1:47PM


This is a game we should be able to take on with some measure of confidence. With the performance against Reading, Monday night, no reason why that shouldn't be the start of a new found rhythm, which would make it tempting to start with the same squad and tactics. If having fluidity involves starting Theo up top, I am all for that. Giroud may come on late to add muscle late on when, hopefully, the game would have been won by the Gunners. Let's just go for the 3 points today. I also hope the fans make the trip in numbers, despite having to make an early trip in the cold of the morning; Arsenal has a large following in those parts as well.
22/12/2012 07:03:00
LD, do you know for sure that Djourou and Santos are "being sold in January" or have you merely expressed a wish for Santa? How much of a Crock has Ryo been? He did have a few injury issues at Feynoord and has hardly played 4 games on the bounce for Wigan.
22/12/2012 07:07:00
I would be disappointed not to see Walcott upfront for this one. There is not a lot of conceivable benefit in playing a big slow holdup player against a team like Wigan. In fact in the last couple of years most of the teams you need a guy like that against; Bolton, Birmingham, Blackburn, and Wolves have been relegated. There's only really Stoke left of the traditional physical teams.
Arsenales f.C
22/12/2012 11:14:00
Ironically it seems like just as we've gone for a big holdup player all the 'brute' teams are gone, and the prem is filled with teams who are a lot more technical and fast-flowing.
Arsenales f.C
22/12/2012 11:23:00
Well, it's been Walcott up front and no Giroud on the team sheet. I am not sure we are playing with the same verve as we did at Reading today. Whether that is down to Wigan's tactics (Martinez was at Reading to see us win with same selection) or our players not being up for the challenge, I wouldn't know. But, it promises to be a nerve jangling 2nd half.
22/12/2012 13:36:00
Walcott needs to get his ass into gear put himself about the pitch a lot more. He's trying to be that focal point, that's not what he's there for. He's there to bring other players into the game and put pressure on the opposition as well. He's looked best when dropping off a bit.
Arsenales F.C
22/12/2012 13:37:00
Agree with you there, Arsenales. We can't take anything away from the Wigan side for their industry. They have stopped Cazorla and Wilshere from playing and this has to change. We need 3 points.
22/12/2012 13:45:00
....could it possibly be that Reading wudda flattered the Queen Vic Rejects XI. Arse have been lulled into a false sense of (near) confidence after Reading, could the illusion reinforced the idea that Wally can be consistently used as a lone striker.... balloons and pr1cks eh...
22/12/2012 13:49:00
3 points.
22/12/2012 14:39:00
trouble with getting all your good luck in one period, is that all te bad luck is just around the corner... another win from a dubious penalty LOL.... good thing tho' is that Wally may well continue upfront now, great news for Everton and WBA..
22/12/2012 14:42:00
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