Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic: Five Key Battles

Wigan Athletic Huddle

This Tuesday sees Arsenal face Wigan Athletic in a game that will have huge repercussions in the relegation battle and the race for a Champions League place.

Here is a run-down of the key battles…

Theo Walcott vs Roger Espinoza

Assuming Wigan line-up with wing backs in their formation, Roger Espinoza and James McArthur will have plenty of work to do in helping out their defence and ensuring that Arsenal’s wingers do not get too much space. This will be particularly important on the right, where Theo Walcott has found his scoring touch at a crucial time for the Gunners, and Roger Espinoza will need to keep tabs on the England player throughout the match. Walcott also has a defensive job to do, as Espinoza’s raids forward will need to be tracked to stop Wigan overloading Bacary Sagna.

Nacho Monreal vs Callum McManaman

For a long time, Callum McManaman must has feared this season would be summed up for him by his horror challenge on Massadio Haidara, but he created a set of far happier memories at Wembley on Saturday, as he turned in a man of the match performances in Wigan’s FA Cup win over Manchester City. Buoyed by that display, he will be a major threat to Arsenal on Tuesday, and Nacho Monreal, after a solid start to life at the Emirates, will haves his hands full with the 22 year old.

Tomas Rosicky vs James McCarthy

Once again, the Czech midfielder looks set to drive Arsenal into the Champions League, with a series of fine displays in recent weeks mirroring his excellent form at the end of last season. James McCarthy will probably be a Premier League player next season regardless of where Wigan finish, with Arsenal one of the sides interested in the 22 year old, and he will be vital to his team’s chances on Tuesday. His attacking play might take a backseat at Arsenal, and he will need to be in fine defensive form against Rosicky and Santi Cazorla.

Bacary Sagna vs Shaun Maloney

As well as tracking McManaman down the right flank, Arsenal will also have to be wary of the threat Shaun Maloney poses on the left side, with the Scottish midfielder likely to pose plenty of problems for Bacary Sagna. Maloney’s delivery into the box, from dead balls and open play, is a key part of Wigan’s attacking play, and his two-footedness means that Sagna will have to follow him inside as well as down the left flank.

Lukas Podolski vs Antolin Alcaraz

Since coming into the side whilst Olivier Giroud has been suspended, Podolski has yet to really impress in the centre of Arsenal’s attack. Tuesday will likely be his last chance to shine in the role he claims to favour, and having perhaps recovered some match fitness against QPR and Manchester United Podolski will hope to be at his best. Wigan’s defence has been shaky in the Premier League all year, and Alcaraz will need to be at his best to keep Podolski at bay.

images: © wonker, © illarterate

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