Wigan Boosts Premier League Survival Chances With Win at Arsenal

Wigan held on after scoring two early goals to secure its first win at Arsenal and pull five points clear of the relegation zone in soccer’s Premier League.

Franco di Santo put Wigan ahead in the seventh minute and Jordi Gomez doubled the lead a minute later at the Emirates Stadium in London last night. Thomas Vermaelen responded for the Gunners after 21 minutes.

Wigan’s 2-1 win, its fourth victory in five league games, lifted it above Queens Park Rangers to 16th in the 20-team standings with four matches to play. Bolton occupies the last of the three-team relegation positions with 29 points, though has played two fewer games than the other bottom-five clubs.

“Now is the moment to regroup, recover and make sure we approach the next four games with the same intensity,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez told his team’s website. “We haven’t got enough points to achieve our aim yet and we want to do that in order to savor these moments.”

Wigan followed up its 1-0 home win against Manchester United six days ago to become the first team to beat United and Arsenal in back-to-back league games since Southampton in 2001. Wigan also secured a first win at Liverpool last month.

Di Santo finished off a counterattack to open the scoring last night and Gomez scored from close range. Wigan had previously only managed a goal in the first 20 minutes of a league match on one occasion this season.

Vermaelen headed in Tomas Rosicky’s cross to make it 2-1 and Wigan held the Gunners at bay for the remaining 69 minutes. The only other victory for the Latics in 14 league meetings with Arsenal was a 3-2 home win on April 18, 2010.

‘Not Enough Petrol’

“In the second half we dropped our level, lost our team play, our cohesion and tried too much individually,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said in comments on his team’s website. “There was not enough petrol left in the tank anymore. We had a tremendous amount of possession, but didn’t create a lot in the second half.”

Arsenal remains third with 64 points, five clear of Tottenham and Newcastle, who have played one game fewer. Third place gains automatic qualification to the group phase of the Europe’s elite Champions League. The team that finishes fourth has to play in a qualifying round.

The Gunners next host sixth-place Chelsea, which has 57 points, on April 21.

“It is a massive and vital game for us,” Wenger added.

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