Arsenal 4 Wigan Athletic 1

It comes down to the final day of the season as Arsenal and arch north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur aim to beat the other to that all-important fourth spot in the Premiership. Arsene Wenger’s men did what they had to do on the evening, beating Wigan Athletic, and in so doing, condemning the FA Cup winners to relegation after eight seasons in the top flight.

Goals from Lukas Podolski, who scored a pair, Theo Walcott, and Aaron Ramsey, saw off Wigan.

The Gunners who are looking to qualify for the Champions League for the 16th consecutive season, travel to Newcastle United on Sunday, a point ahead of Tottenham, who themselves host Sunderland, in what in effect will be a north London shoot out for Champions League football next season. Advantage Arsenal then, and after the destruction of the Latics few would argue with that sentiment.

“We had a strong start and dominated the first twenty minutes but we allowed Wigan back into the game,” said Wenger, who saw his side score three goals in eight minutes in second half after the visitors had equalised on the stroke of half time.

“When we scored our second goal, it was a massive blow for Wigan which they never recovered from. As soon as we scored our third, we played with freedom. “

However, Wenger also gave an honest appraisal of the season and said that inconsistency had been the reason why his side had not been able to finish in a higher position. “It took us some time to get going,” added the Frenchman. “We didn’t win our big games at home and it took us a long time to find a level of confidence.”

Wigan battled bravely, as they did on Saturday against Manchester City at Wembley, but it was all in vain. They now complete the trio of teams playing in the Championship next season, joining Queens Park Rangers and Reading in English football’s second tier. Furthermore, they now have the great misfortune of becoming the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season.

At the final whistle, their players looked crestfallen, as did Martinez. The club will re-build again no doubt. With, or without, the popular Spaniard.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the players,” said the Wigan manager. “They showed character and passion, and did not deserve to be in the bottom three. Unfortunately, we have not been good enough in defence.”

Asked about his own future, Martinez refused to drawn. “The summer is the time for assessments,” he said. “We want to get ready for the final games of the season.”

Arsenal came into this match unbeaten in nine matches, and in an enjoyable first half played out on a rain sodden pitch following several hours of heavy rain, they looked confident for much of this match.

From the moment that Arsenal had taken the lead, on 11 minutes, through Podolski, they looked dominant. The German, leading the line in the continued absence of Olivier Giroud through suspension, took advantage of slack marking on a corner kick to head home. The mood of Wigan’s travelling support suddenly dampened.

Few could blame Wigan for having a FA Cup hangover following their heroics over the weekend. However, against Arsenal, a win mattered, and nothing short of a victory would do for the visitors if they wanted to preserve their top-flight status. A draw would not have been good enough, and would render any last day survival act highly improbable, but a defeat would definitely condemn them to relegation.

Wigan had won at Arsenal before, in April 2012, in similar circumstances. Martinez named the same side that started the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Arsenal needed to be on their guard. However, Wenger’s players did well in a match they needed to win and created plenty of chances.

For the Gunners, Keiran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal, and the full-back acquitted himself well against Wigan’s young winger Callum McManaman, the star of the show in the FA Cup win.

As the first half developed, Arsenal looked increasingly comfortable, and had chances to build on their lead. Mikel Arteta was a bundle of energy, controlling affairs from midfield with authority. Santi Cazorla, excellent on the evening, looked assured in possession, supremely confident on an evening when the wet surface made it difficult to retain the ball.

However, Arteta played a part in the move that led to Wigan’s equalising goal, scored moments before the interval. The Spanish midfielder hauled down Shaun Maloney as Wigan mounted one last attack. The decision from referee Mike Dean seemed a little harsh. From the resulting free-kick, Maloney stepped up from 20 yards and fired a superb shot past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who was unable to divert the ball away despite his best efforts.

Arsenal began the second half confidently and re- took the lead again on 63 minutes, through Walcott. Cazorla was integral to the move, bursting down the right wing to collect a pass from full-back Bacary Sagna. The Spaniard lifted his head and spotted the run of Walcott, who he found with an accurate low delivery. The winger beat his markers and lunged for the ball, which he forced past goalkeeper Joel Robles from close range.

Five minutes later, Podolski extended his side’s lead, leaving Wigan with little hope, after latching onto a pass from Cazorla. He ran through on goal, and beat Robles easily. Shortly after, Ramsey capped a good performance by adding Arsenal’s fourth.

The Arsenal boss, however, was complimentary of Wigan, who had impressed all season with their attractive brand of football. “They are a good, intelligent team,” he added. “They will certainly come back up if they stick together.”

Wenger revealed after the match that Arteta could miss the trip to Newcastle after pulling a calf muscle.