Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Gunners slip up at Wigan

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal let 10-man Wigan off the hook after a 2-2 draw prevented the Gunners joining the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League.

The Gunners led 2-1, with Charles N'Zogbia having been sent off for Wigan, only for the home side to level thanks to an own goal from Sebastian Squillaci.

Ben Watson's penalty had given the home side a deserved lead, but Arsenal replied to take the lead at the break through Andrei Arshavin's brilliant scissor-kick and Nicklas Bendtner's calm finish.

Perhaps Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger's eight changes to the starting line-up heartened Wigan because they started off in spirited fashion and had the Gunners rocking on their heels. In the 17th minute Wigan broke swiftly and N'Zogbia burst down the right before tumbling over Laurent Koscielny's trailing leg just on the edge of the box.

A penalty looked the right decision and Watson hammered it home to give the home side a deserved lead.

Arshavin had been at his frustrating worst for most of the half but it was down to his brilliant volley that Arsenal equalised six minutes before the break. Marouane Chamakh had lobbed the ball on for Bendtner to hit a shot on the bounce and when Ali Al Habsi managed to keep it out, it dropped for Arshavin to strike home a lovely scissor-kick.

The goal seemed to breathe life into Arsenal and particularly Arshavin, who created a goal for Bendtner in the 43rd minute. Arshavin tussled for and won possession in the centre circle, then bustled forward and found Bendtner, who used his strength to brush off a couple of weak challenges and then make no mistake from 12 yards out.

The Gunners' passing game had been slowly reasserting itself and it clicked into gear perfectly in the 70th minute with a mouthwatering move that simply begged to be finished off, but Al Habsi stood tall to deny Arshavin.

Having played so well, N'Zogbia then got himself sent off for pushing his head into Jack Wilshere's face after an exchange of words, leaving referee Lee Probert little option but to show red.

Far from being disheartened, the dismissal fired up the home side and with 10 minutes left they equalised. Hugo Rodallega headed back a corner at the far post and Squillaci, trying to thwart Steven Caldwell, could only head into his own net.

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