Educated Guesswork: Arsenal v Wigan Athletic

Can the stats predict for us who will win between Arsenal and Wigan tonight?

It goes without saying that at this stage in the season every game is important. And whilst on paper a game between Arsenal and Wigan wouldn’t generate much interest – the simple fact is that because of the timing of the game it has become a pivotal match in the story of the season.

Will Arsenal condemn Wigan to relegation and take control again in the fight for 4th place?

Or will Wigan’s performance in the FA cup spur them on in their fight for survival? Can Wigan repeat their performance from the Emirates last year? What do the statistics say? 

Behind Chelsea, Arsenal are the form team in the Premiership having won 9 of their last 12 games. Arsenal are unbeaten in the last 8 games at home and have scored 11 goals (conceding just 4) in their last 6 games at the Emirates.

But whilst at home Arsenal have the best attacking record in the Premiership - defensive lapses have cost them dearly this season (when ranked against the other teams Arsenal are 12th for defensive form conceding on average over 1.2 goals per game).

Whilst their defensive record has improved as the season has continued – teams still have chances to score at the Emirates. And that is something that Wigan will be hoping to capitalise upon. 

This season Wigan’s home form has been their downfall. And whilst their form has improved (in typical Wigan fashion) towards the end of the season – their early season performances are responsible for their league position.

Wigan’s current away form has them ranked as 7th in comparison to the other teams with 3 wins from their last 6 games. But the hidden fact contained within that statistic is that in that same run of games Wigan scored 8 goals, but conceded 10 – and that is not a record that will scare anyone at the Arsenal camp.

In truth – at any other stage in the season this would be a game where the floodgates could well and truly open – but if the same Wigan team show up that lifted the FA cup at the weekend – then this evening’s fixture could be quite an epic battle. The word to focus on there is if. 

Wigan remain as one of the true Premiership anomalies in the fact that with all things considered they probably should have been relegated at some point before now. The fact that they haven’t is a massive credit to them and to Roberto Martinez.

Both teams have to go all out to win this evening as a draw doesn’t really help either club. On paper – this should be a walk in the park for Arsenal.

But given Wigan’s FA cup victory - the chances are that this game will be anything but simple. It will also be interesting to see whether that David and Goliath victory actually takes its toll on the players and ends up coming at great cost to Wigan.

Prediction: Arsenal 2 Wigan 1

image: © wonker

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