Gunners hold on for victory
Togo striker secures 1-0 win for Arsenal at Emirates Stadium
By James Dall. Last Updated: December 6, 2008 5:16pm
Arsenal recorded back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since October as Emmanuel Adebayor's first-half strike against Wigan Athletic proved decisive at Emirates Stadium.
Wigan enjoyed the better of the first period but were dealt a setback as Adebayor netted on 16 minutes to set the Gunners on course to build on last weekend's win at Chelsea.
The Togo international hit the woodwork prior to the interval while Latics captain Mario Melchiot drew a brilliant save from goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in the second half.
Denilson then also hit the post as Arsenal aimed to seal the win and, despite much battling from the visitors and a very cagey final few minutes, they held on to claim a vital three points.
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 Chris Kirkland for his first goal since his injury and his 10th of the campaign.
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 Samir Nasri from behind earned 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 Denilson's pull back and seeing Kirkland tip his fierce drive onto the woodwork.
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.
Heskey almost earned a point but headed just over the bar with a minute remaining.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|