Wigan Athletic 0 Arsenal 1

Mikel Arteta struck a second half penalty to earn Arsenal a deserved win at Wigan. It seals Arsenal’s third Premiership win in a row, and lifts the Gunners into third place in the Premiership for a few hours at least. The game may have been a different kind of challenge from Monday’s trip to the Madejski stadium, but nonetheless the way Arsenal set about another tough northern away day spoke volumes for this side’s spirit and determination under Arsene Wenger.

But for the outstanding saves from Ali Al Habsi, Arsenal could have ensured a more comfortable afternoon at the DW stadium, but as is his way, the Oman keeper denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott with some reflex saves of the highest order. The home side were never going to be as open or accommodating as Reading were, and happily snapped at every ball, and pressurised the ball whenever Arsenal were in possession.

Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla were at the heart of the Gunner’s creativity. However Wilshere in particular came in for some robust treatment, and will feel particularly aggrieved at his yellow card from a tackle on Shaun Maloney where the Arsenal man clearly got the ball first. Still, Arsenal kept their shape and discipline, particularly in defence, pushing away in a manner reminiscent of those famous defences from the past.

Wojciech Szczesny had to be alert to Arouna Kone’s shot from close in. Kone had earlier raced clear of the labouring Per Mertersacker, and with only Szczesny ahead, pulled his shot wide of the target. As Wigan searched for a leveller, the Poland keeper did well to get down to save well from a deflected low drive from Maynor Figueroa in the second half.

Wenger named Walcott at the centre of a three man attack, but the Gunners fired first from Oxlade-Chamberlain from the left. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski cut through the Wigan defence, and having struck the ball with power, Oxlade-Chambelrian’s fierce strike was well saved by Al Habsi after nine minutes. Podolski then ran clear of his marker, to hit the ball with power, but again Al Habsi pulled off the save.

At the break, Wenger would have stressed to his players to up the tempo and the rewards will come. Easier said then done in heavy conditions, but the goal wasn’t short in coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain was a thorn in the home side’s defence, with his pace and power too much for Wigan. Walcott had a great chance to open the scoring and should have found the target when racing clear, but once again Al Habsi pulled off another fine save.

Just on the hour mark however, Arsenal took the lead. As he twisted clear of Beausejour, Walcott was caught by the defender and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Arteta to send Al Habsi the wrong way to open the scoring.

There was always going to be a response from the home side who had a couple of shouts for penalties of their own. Wenger knows all to well that sides will always try to deny Arsenal time and space on the ball, and in testing conditions, the football may not have been of the highest order that he has made the Gunner’s trademark. But like the thousands of Arsenal fans who ventured up north, he will be smiling at another win, another three points, and just as importantly, a clean sheet.