Wigan 2 v Arsenal 2

With eight changes to the starting line up from the win over Chelsea, Arsene Wenger went about his policy to rotate, and especially with the frequency of the festive fixtures. However after coming back from a goal down and then getting pegged back when holding the lead, Wenger may have to accept that the selection did not warrant as much tinkering. Compounded to which, there was further inury woe for Abou Diaby who had to be replaced in the first half with a calf injury.


The Gunners enjoyed the majority of the opening exchanges, but as seems the way, they fell behind, and to a dubious penalty. Charles Nzogbia’s trickery enabled him to get in between Diaby and Laurent Koscielny, but he then fell dramatically just outside the area with and with no contact from the Gunners’ defender.


Referee Lee Pobert pointed to the spot and Ben Watson lashed past Lukasz Fabianski. Rather than panic, there seemed to be an air of calm from the Arsenal players, too much of it evident from Arshavin perhaps who seemed to be inhabiting his own little universe. However, the Russian came down to earth with a bang on 39 minutes, to grab a spectacular leveller for the Gunners.


Marouane Chamakh found Nicklas Bendtner whose shot was well saved by Ali Al Habsi. The ball however fell into the path of Arshavin to volley in acrobatically for a brilliant strike as he suddenly came to life.


Five minutes after scoring, Arshavin won the ball, and raced clear to pick out Bendtner. The Dane held off challenges from the Wigan defence, before slotting past Al Habsi for a quality finish to give Arsenal the lead. Jack Wilshere was enjoying a combative midfield role and when he raced clear to find Arshavin, a second goal was a a given, until Al Habsi produced another fine save. Still Wigan never gave up and Arsenal’s innability to defend from a corner gave them their reward as Sebastien Squillaci headed into his own net under pressure.


For reasons better know by him, Nzogbia head-butted Wilshere and was duly shown a straight red card and you sensed that an Arsenal winner was on the cards. Wenger had duly introduced Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott, and with mounting pressure and despite a late penalty appeal, the Gunners would come to rue the lost two points.