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Barclays Premier League

Emirates Stadium (ATT 59,317) 6th December 2008 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: S Bennett

Arsenal Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic Wigan

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Gunners hold on for victory

Togo striker secures 1-0 win for Arsenal at Emirates Stadium

By James Dall.   Last Updated: 06/12/08 5:16pm

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Adebayor: Match-winner

Adebayor: Match-winner

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.

Man of Match: Lee Cattermole. A dogged display from the former Middlesbrough midfielder as he pressed on every occasion to restrict Arsenal. Attempt of the match: Denilson hit a skidding drive in the second period that clipped off the inside of the post and out. Pass of the match: Cesc Fabregas slotted a brilliant defence-splitting ball into Robin van Persie in the second half. Save of the match: Manuel Almunia made a terrific one-handed stop as Mario Melchiot looked to smack home from close range. Talking point: Emmanuel Eboue, on as a substitute, was replaced in the latter stages and then booed by the Arsenal crowd for his performance.

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.

Response

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.

Heels

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.

ArsenalTeam StatisticsWigan Athletic
1Goals0
11st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target4
7Shots off Target7
2Blocked Shots3
8Corners3
14Fouls15
1Offsides3
1Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
83.6Passing Success69.5
15Tackles30
66.7Tackles Success80
65.3Possession34.7
49.3Territorial Advantage50.7

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 16 39
2 Manchester City 16 36
3 Manchester United 16 31
4 West Ham United 16 28
5 Southampton 16 26
6 Arsenal 16 26
7 Tottenham Hotspur 16 24
8 Newcastle United 16 23
9 Swansea City 16 22
10 Everton 16 21
11 Liverpool 16 21
12 Stoke City 16 19
13 Aston Villa 16 19
14 West Bromwich Albion 16 17
15 Sunderland 16 16
16 Crystal Palace 16 15
17 Burnley 16 15
18 Queens Park Rangers 16 14
19 Hull City 16 13
20 Leicester City 16 10

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