In days gone by, Arsene Wenger’s men would have folded at the DW Stadium against a gritty Wigan side.
The conditions, wet and miserable, were perfect for a Wigan onslaught but the Gunners deserved to walk away with all three points.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez decided to flood the midfield in order to stifle Arsenal’s supply line.
The midfield trio of James McArthur, James McCarthy and David Jones produced a combative and gritty display and only Jack Wilshere in the Arsenal midfield seemed willing to match Wigan’s steel.
The young English midfielder left his mark on a number of players, but also felt more than his fair share of Wigan’s brunt.
Arsenal had come into the game on the back of an impressive drubbing of Reading, and Arsene Wenger tried to maintain his side’s good form by naming a similar line up against Wigan.
Theo Walcott once again started as Arsenal’s sole centre forward, though the Englishman missed a couple of chances that should have been converted. Arsenal’s left flank pairing of Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs was also unchanged from Monday night’s game, but the duo failed to torment Ronnie Stam as they had done against Shaun Cummings of Reading in their previous outing.
Wigan never portrayed themselves as a major threat to Arsenal, but they did miss two brilliant opportunities in either half of the game and Arouna Kone was at the centre of both.
Firstly, having outpaced the languid Per Mertesacker and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, the Ivorian scuffed a shot well wide of the goal. Then, when his side were a goal down, Kone once again beat Mertersacker but from a tight angle fired straight at the Arsenal keeper.
The final whistle was met with relief by the Arsenal and with this victory against Wigan they have moved up into the top three, albeit by virtue of having played a game more than London Rivals Chelsea and Tottenham.
Nonetheless, the DW Stadium is a ground where Arsenal have struggled often in the past, and to leave with three points represents a vast improvement on previous seasons.
The Gunners end 2012 with two home matches against West Ham and Newcastle. Should they win both games, Arsenal will enter the New Year on a terrific run of five wins from five in the league.
As for Wigan, they are currently in a position they have found themselves in all too often during previous Christmases; in the relegation zone and facing a tough battle to stay in the top flight.
image: © wonker