HT Arsenal 1-2 Wigan: Strugglers stun Gunners
Published 20:58 16/04/12 By MirrorFootball
Relegation battlers Wigan took a shock 2-1 lead over Arsenal into half-time of this Barclays Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium.
Franco Di Santo fired the Latics - who last week beat leaders Manchester United - ahead after seven minutes, before Jordi Gomez doubled their lead inside 90 seconds.
Thomas Vermaelen reduced the deficit with a bullet header on 21 minutes.
Arsenal made one change, as Tomas Rosicky replaced Aaron Ramsey in midfield. Full-back Kieran Gibbs recovered from a groin injury to take his place on the bench, along with fit-again forward Gervinho.
PFA Player of the Year nominee Robin van Persie again led the Gunners attack as they looked to tighten their grip on third place.
Shaun Maloney, Wigan's goalscorer against United, missed out with a minor knock picked up in training.
It was a bright start by Arsenal, as Yossi Benayoun forced Ali Al Habsi into a fingertip save from his close-range header.
The Latics had brought a small following of only some 200, who had perhaps travelled more in hope than genuine expectation.
However, it was the visitors who took a shock lead on seven minutes.
Wigan broke quickly from an Arsenal corner through Gomez down the right, who clipped the ball through to the on-rushing Di Santo.
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny raced to the edge of his area, but was beaten to the ball and the Wigan striker went on to knock into an empty net.
Before the away support had time to calm down, they were in dreamland again.
This time, Victor Moses battled down the left, with his cross not gathered by Szczesny - and Gomez was on hand to scramble the loose ball over the line.
The Emirates was left in stunned silence, and moments later Gunners midfielder Mikel Arteta limped off injured and was replaced by Ramsey.
Arsenal - who had won nine of their last 10 Premier League games - needed a response.
Benayoun was again denied by a fine one-handed save from Al Habsi as he looped Rosicky's cross towards the top corner.
The Gunners halved the deficit on 21 minutes when Vermaelen crashed in a header from 12 yards after Rosicky's right-wing cross.
Al Habsi was alert again to beat away Van Persie's fierce drive as Arsenal pressed forwards, centre-half Johan Djourou then dragging his shot just wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Arsenal maintained their momentum, and Rosicky should have done better than sky the ball high over the crossbar after being played in by Van Persie.
Wigan, who were unfortunate to lose at Chelsea amid some controversial decisions, continued to defend deep with two banks of four and made the most of any stoppages - much to the frustration of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
As half-time approached, Arsenal continued to press.
Van Persie tried his luck with a 25-yard free-kick that flew over.