Saturday, 6 December 2008

Adebayor Give Arsenal Three Point

This was the game in which Arsenal were to prove they could build on victories against fellow Big Four rivals by showing the consistency to grind out wins against so-called less formidable opposition. But in the first half at the Emirates, the Gunners were somewhat laboured and certainly not very convincing, despite going ahead thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor's tenth goal of the season.

Nervy Arsenal Take The Points
Defender and former captain William Gallas was ruled out with a calf injury but in a like-for-like change, Kolo Toure came back in after overcoming a similar problem. That was the only change from the team that beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, though in midweek Wenger's second string lost at Burnley in the Carling Cup, with five youngsters plus Mikael Silvestre from that defeat named as substitutes today, along with Emmanuel Eboue, fit again after a knee injury.

Wigan manager Steve Bruce brought back captain Mario Melchiot to replace Michael Brown.

Wigan started brightly enough, but it was Arsenal who took the lead after 16 minutes. It wasthe Gunners' first real chance of the game, when a first-time pass by Cesc Fabregas came off Alexandre Song and Titus Bramble and fell kindly for Adebayor, who fired the ball low into the corner.

A quarter-of-an-hour later, Wenger was forced to make an early change when Samir Nasri, injured by an ugly Wilson Palacios tackle, failed to recover and had to be replaced by Eboue

It was unwanted disruption for Arsenal, who despite holding on to their lead, continued to toil in a less than vintange display.

But on the stroke of half-time, Adebayor nearly doubled histeam's advantage. The Togolese striker saw his low shot from 20 yards tipped onto the foot of a post by Latics' keeper Chris Kirkland after a neat move in which Denilson cut the ball back to him.

Wigan carved out a good chance early in the second-half, but England striker Emile Heskey - whose future is the subject of much speculation - couldn't quite get enough power or direction onto a potentially dangerous header.

Shortly after that, an Arsenal attack saw Fabregas play a perfect through-ball for Robin van Persie, but the Dutchman, clear on goal, hit his shot wide from the edge of the area.

Van Persie went close again when Denilson squared the ball to him and the Dutchman turned and drove in a shot with his favoured left-foot that flew just inches wide of the right-hand post.

The Gunners struck the woodwork for the second time when Denilson let fly from 25 yards with a shot that cannoned back off the frame of the goal as they sought a second goal that would have enabled the vast majority of the Emirates crowd to breathe a little more easily.

Bacary Sagna had two chances to get that second goal, but saw his near-post header saved and then fired over the bar after Wigan failed to clear a corner.

The crowd's anxiety heightened almost immediately when Mario Melchiot's volley was superbly saved at point-blank range by Manuel Almunia.

Steve Bruce brought on Wigan's top scorer Amr Zaki, but Arsenal were now pressing hard to increase their lead. But Adebayor missed an excellent chance, and with just one goal in it, Wigan always had hope.

And with Eboue repeatedly giving the ball away - to the annoyance of the home crowd - Heskey headed a decent chance over for the visitors.

Eboue was now being barracked by his own fans and was mercifully taken off by Wenger. Adebayor tried to console him as he left the pitch, but it was a very unhappy Eboue who stalked off down the tunnel, giving the end of the game a sour note as Arsenal ended Wigan's five-match unbeaten run.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Denilson, Fabregas, Song Billong, Nasri, Van Persie, Adebayor. Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre, Wilshere, Bendtner, Eboue.

Wigan: Kirkland, Taylor, Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole, Melchiot, Heskey, Camara. Subs: Kingson, Kilbane, Koumas, Brown, Zaki, De Ridder, Kapo.

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