Match Report: Arsenal 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Togolese frontman Emmanuel Adebayor poked home the only goal of the game as Arsenal triumped over a spirited Wigan Athletic at the Emirates Stadium.

Steve Bruce’s side started brightly as they pressured the ball and were able to control the tempo with Wilson Palacios proving a constant menace to the Arsenal backline.

However, despite their pedestrian opening, the Gunners took the lead in the 16th minute as Wigan failed to clear a corner and Cesc Fabregas looped the ball back into the box where Emmanuel Adebayor reacted quickest to beat Chris Kirkland.

First Half

How Arsenal would respond after defeating Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men was seen as a true test of their title credentials, as they have recently struggled against so-called ‘lesser’ opposition.

It had undermined previous campaigns and this season the victory over Manchester United was followed up with defeats to Aston Villa and Manchester City.

Wigan were hardly in poor form either, after going unbeaten in their previous five league games. In fact, their only defeat in the last month was against Wenger’s youngsters in the Carling Cup.

Gunners skipper Cesc Fabregas had suggested in his programme notes that teams travel to the Emirates Stadium just to defend, yet Steve Bruce fielded Emile Heskey and Henri Camara in attack, with Amr Zaki returning from a hamstring injury to take his place on the bench.

Determined to show enterprise, the visitors nearly took an early lead when Palacios’ deflected shot almost wrong-footed Manuel Almunia, but the Arsenal goalkeeper recovered to gather.

Palacios, who was recommended to Bruce by Gunners boss Wenger at the start of last season, also drilled a dangerous ball across Almunia’s goal, but it was the hosts who took the lead when Adebayor struck.

Fabregas had been hurt by a tackle by Titus Bramble but after discussing it with his bench, he stayed on the pitch and set up the opener.

After an Arsenal corner was partially cleared, Fabregas passed the ball back into the penalty area, helped by Alex Song holding off Bramble. It fell kindly for Adebayor, who tucked his finish under goalkeeper Kirkland for his first goal since his injury and his 10th of the campaign.

Goal: Emmanuel Adebayor (16) – Arsenal 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Robin van Persie was in the hunt for a second and could have earned a penalty when Maynor Figueroa clipped his heels as he raced onto an Adebayor header. The Dutchman stayed on his feet and Bramble got back to block when the shot came.

Palacios was popping up everywhere for Wigan but a tackle on Nasri from behind earnt him a yellow card.

There were worrying scenes for the Arsenal bench when Nasri stayed down and the France youngster eventually had to be replaced by Emmanuel Eboue in the 32nd minute.

Adebayor struck the post in first-half stoppage time, latching onto Van Persie’s pull back and seeing Kirkland tip his fierce drive onto the woodwork.

Second Half

The game opened up more at the start of the second half, with Ryan Taylor fizzing over a dangerous cross that required clearing.

Heskey was also given a free header from Figueroa’s cross but his effort was straight at Almunia.

Arsenal were refusing to sit on their lead and Van Persie raced through twice, only to shoot wide each time, and Bacary Sagna had a near-post header saved by Kirkland.

Wigan pleaded with Steve Bennett for a penalty when Kolo Toure tangled with Camara but the referee waved play on.

Denilson then crashed a drive against Kirkland’s upright with a shot from 25 yards.

Almunia pulled off a stunning save to stop Mario Melchiot scoring from point-blank range, and Wigan again appealed for a penalty when Song and Figueroa tussled for the rebound.

Adebayor should have added to his tally but headed wide from a corner and had a one-on-one effort saved by Kirkland.

Emmanuel Eboue was substituted late on, tiredness was visibly affecting his game and confidence. Arsenal’s support started to boo the Ivorian which consequently forced Arsene Wenger to bring him off.

Heskey almost earned a point but headed just over the bar with a minute remaining.

Not the worst result for Arsenal, but they did scrape through in the end.

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The Brain
13 years ago

Eboue got booed which is out of order. But I don’t think the new age Arsenal fans care what they do; look at the videos of disrespecting Lampard and Anelka in public when trying to get on with their lives and now this. Also double standards may arise from some that joked around about Bendtner and sympathise with Eboue. Different mediums I know but disappointed nevertheless just like the match nearly was.

13 years ago

All those who booed Eboue should be bloody ashamed of themselves. Booing their own player is just not on. I never have and I never will. Do they think they are helping Arsenal by doing that??? Morons!!!

13 years ago

Players getting booed when Wengers’s to be blamed. He can’t continue forcing them to play out of position. Arsene, get your fucking head out of your fucking arse and start spending!!!

13 years ago

The booing was ridiculous, and it has nothing to do with Wenger, Eboue is very versatile because he’s a very good footballer, and can play left mid, even though it isn’t his position. He did absolutely fine there until the last ten minutes when he was absolutely dead, and he would’ve been dead regardless of his position. Absolutely disgusted at the fans who booed

13 years ago

I felt ashamed of being an Arsenal fan yesterday, something I never believed would be possible. The idiots have been picking on Bendtner recently now its Eboue’s turn. Tell me idiots, if Bendtner had come on to replace Eboue would you have cheered him like you cheered when Adebayor came on to replace him against Villa? Thats the same Adebayor you were booing earlier this season! Get a grip morons if you boo your own players they don’t get better they get worse. If they’re really not good enough they won’t be playing for long. Have faith and be a… Read more »

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