Lying deep down in troubled waters in 18th position and fighting for survival at the start of April, Roberto Martinez may have given up hopes of Wigan playing in the top flight next season as their next two fixtures read Manchester United at home and Arsenal at the Emirates.
A remarkably astounding performance against Manchester United fetched them three points and opened the floodgates as it gave Manchester City some hope. But Wigan was barely out of the relegation zone. Could they repeat their giant killing performance by beating Arsenal, and that at Emirates where they have never before claimed a single point? If they could repeat such performances week after week, they wouldn’t have been languishing at the bottom quarter of the table, would they?
The Lactics had brought only a traveling contingent of 200 to the Emirates, more of whom was traveling in hope rather than genuine expectation while Arsenal were looking to extend their 3rd place lead over Tottenham, who were off playing the FA Cup semifinal this weekend.
But it was the traveling supporters who would celebrate first as Martinez’s team took a shock lead in the seventh minute.Wigan broke quickly of an Arsenal corner through Gomez on the left, who clipped the ball to an onrushing Di Santo. Szczesny rushed out of his line but was beaten to the ball by Di Santo, who knocked the ball into an empty net.
The Emirates had hardly recovered after the first goal before Wigan doubled their lead less than a minute later. Szczesny couldn’t handle a cross from the left by Moses and Gomez used his predatory instincts to scramble the ball over the line as the 200 travelling fans were sent into a delirium.
It got worse for Arsenal as MikelArteta limped off in the ninth minute to be replaced by Aaron Ramsey.
Benayoun came close to reducing the deficit but was denied by a brilliant effort by Al Habsi as the ball headed for the top corner. However Arsenal did score in the 21st minute as Vermealen bulleted in his header of a Rosicky cross.
The goal gave Arsenal the much required momentum and Van Persie almost pulled it level as he dragged his shot just wide of the post but Wigan held firm as they went into the break with the lead.
Wigan, looking to hang on to the lead defended with purpose as they only got ahead on counter attacks and this almost paid off as Szczesny was forced into a save by Moses. Vermaelen and Santos came close for the Gunners but the goal never looked like coming. The introduction of Gervinho injected some fresh life and with 16 minutes to go, Arsene Wenger brought on the young Chamberlain as Song dropped into defence.
Arsenal applied persistent pressure but the Wigan defence, who had more purpose to win, never broke down. Five minutes of injury time wasn’t enough as the final whistle meant that Wigan picked up three more points to move into sixteenth place, five points clear of the relegation zone and probably just enough to keep them in the Premiership next season.