Premier League

No Christmas cheer

As part of our Premier League snap-shots, Peter O'Rourke looks back on Arsenal's 1-0 win over Wigan.

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Wigan fans could be forgiven for not looking forward to Christmas as this latest defeat means for a third straight year they will spend the festive period in the bottom three.

The defeat was also Wigan's sixth in the last eight games and it looks like another relegation battle is on the cards for the Latics.

Arsenal on the other hand have given the perfect response to their shock Capital One Cup defeat to Bradford with two straight Premier League wins to boost their top four hopes.

The Gunners also have games against Newcastle and Southampton to come during the busy festive period and they will be confident of maintaining their push for a top four finish.

Selection

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez had to deal with a central defensive crisis with Adrian Lopez joining Antolin Alcarez and Ivan Ramis on the sidelines.

Gary Caldwell was fit enough to be named on the bench, while James McCarthy was back in the starting line-up after recovering from an ankle injury.

Not surprisingly, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger named the same side that beat Reading on Monday with Theo Walcott again starting in his preferred striking spot.

Tactics

Wigan started off with a 3-4-3 formation with James McCarthy being used in an unfamiliar defensive role before Martinez quickly changed it by moving McCarthy back into midfield in a 4-4-3 formation.

Maynor Figueroa moved into central defence alongside Emmerson Boyce with Ronnie Stam and Jean Beausejour playing at full-back.

McCarthy, James McArthur and David Jones formed the three-man midfield with Arouna Kone, Franco Di Santo and Shaun Maloney in attack.

Arsenal chief Wenger employed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski playing behind lone front man Walcott.

Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere provided the midfield axis with Wenger able to name his first-choice back four and goalkeeper.

Substitutions

Martinez was short of options on the bench with a number of key players missing through injury.

He did not make his first change until 14 minutes from time with youngster Callum McManaman replacing Franco Di Santo and the winger did okay after being brought on.

Jordi Gomez replaced Shaun Maloney in the final minute and he did not have enough time to make an impact.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger also waited until the final 15 minutes before making any changes.

Aaron Ramsey came on for the impressive Alex Oxlade Chamberlain in a straight swap.

Francis Coquelin then came on for Podolski to tighten up the midfield as Arsenal looked to hold onto their lead and he was impressive when he came on as he broke up a number of Wigan attacks.

Laurent Koscielny was introduced in the closing stages for Cazorla as Wenger looked to bolster his defence as Wigan pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

Referee

Jon Moss had a fairly straightforward game to deal with and he got the penalty decision right for Arsenal when Walcott was bundled to the ground by Beausejour.

However, he ignored strong penalty appeals from the home side in the closing seconds after Jordi Gomez's shot appeared to strike the arms of Kieran Gibbs inside the box.

Jack Wilshere could count himself unlucky to be booked after being cautioned for a perfectly good tackle on Maloney in the first half, while Maloney himself was booked in the second half after accumulating a number of fouls throughout the game.

Main men

Oxlade-Chamberlain turned the game in Arsenal's favour with an impressive showing in the second half from the right wing.

After a lacklustre first half, Oxlade-Chamberlain brought some spark to Arsenal's attacking play and it was during this spell that Arsenal scored the only goal of the game.

Maynor Figueroa was moved into central defence as Wigan were forced to play with a back four rather than Martinez's favoured three-man defence.

The full-back slotted comfortably into his new role and helped neutralise the threat of Theo Walcott and also got forward as much as he could to help set up a number of Wigan attacks.

Looking ahead

Arsenal have to wait until Saturday December 29th to take to the field again, after their Boxing Day clash against West Ham was postponed, and they will be looking to maintain their winning run at home to Newcastle.

The Gunners have now won their last three straight Premier League games to boost their top four aspirations and Wenger will be hoping they have now turned the corner after an indifferent run of form.

There were many positives to take from the game for Wigan, but worryingly for Roberto Martinez he finds his side in the bottom three at Christmas.

Wigan created more chances than Arsenal, but again found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline.

It does not get any easier for Wigan with a trip to Everton on Boxing Day followed by games against Aston Villa and Manchester United.

The performances of his side will give Martinez hope that they can get out of trouble, but they will need to pick up more points in the coming weeks to climb out of the drop zone.