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Wigan 0-0 Arsenal

By Jonathan Stevenson

Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor
Adebayor could not find a breakthrough at the JJB Stadium

Arsenal's indifferent Premier League form continued as they were held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Wigan at the JJB Stadium.

Arsenal could have gone ahead after 43 seconds, Emmanuel Adebayor denied by the advancing Chris Kirkland.

But their fluent passing game suffered on the appalling pitch and Wigan almost won it when Luis Antonio Valencia forced Manuel Almunia to tip over.

Cesc Fabregas was denied by another Kirkland save in the dying seconds.

Arsenal are two points above Manchester United having played one more game and they have now drawn their last three Premier League games.


As for Wigan, they move three points above the drop zone and go ahead of Newcastle into 14th in the process.

It was just their second point out of 66 in their games against the so-called 'big four' in three seasons of Premier League football and their first against Arsenal at the sixth attempt.

But the Gunners, fresh from their stunning Champions League win at AC Milan on Tuesday, raced out of the blocks at the JJB Stadium.

With less than a minute on the clock, Fabregas sent Adebayor through on goal only for the Togo striker to see his shot blocked by Kirkland, who had raced off his line.

Most of Arsenal's attempts came in the opening stages, with Adebayor having another shot blocked, Nicklas Bendtner's effort being deflected wide and Gael Clichy firing off target from 25 yards.

Emmanuel Adebayor is denied by Chris Kirkland early on
Adebayor sees his early shot against Wigan saved by Kirkland

Wigan had two decent openings of their own but both fell to Wilson Palacios, who skewed one over and dragged the other badly wide.

Arsenal, characteristically, were dominating possession but the wretched pitch meant players had to take an extra touch and the flow of the game suffered as a result.

The Gunners decided to take the aerial route and it almost paid dividends when Clichy's cross was headed goalwards by Fabregas, Kirkland getting down well to tip the ball behind.

With 10 minutes gone in the second half, Wigan boss Steve Bruce took off the injured Emile Heskey and sent on Antoine Sibierski, and suddenly the Latics were transformed.

He cleverly teed up Jason Koumas, who saw a 20-yard shot deflected just wide, before Valencia cut in from the right and forced Almunia to acrobatically parry away his sweet drive.

As the half wore on it appeared as though Wigan were the only team that could win it, so Arsene Wenger sent on Kolo Toure and Robin van Persie - the Dutchman making his first league appearance in nearly three months.

But he blazed over twice and Fabregas was denied by the onrushing Kirkland again in the final stages as Arsenal failed to find the breakthrough.

  • Wigan manager Steve Bruce on Kirkland:
    "You need your keeper to play well against Arsenal and he made two great saves. He was drafted into the England squad and you can see why.

    "The pitch today didn't help, we know that, but it was the same for both.

    "It is going to be tight at the bottom of the Premier League. There are nine teams in it, so let's hope this point is the one that take us clear."

  • Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
    "We are in a patch where we are not taking enough points, but I believe in these players.

    "The focus is good, we will stay calm and we have a very good chance of winning this championship.

    "We've dropped two points here, but we gave everything, fought very hard and the poor pitch did the rest."

    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Boyce, Edman, Valencia, Brown, Palacios, Koumas, Heskey (Sibierski 55), King (Kilbane 87).
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Taylor, Bramble.

    Booked: King, Sibierski.

    Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy, Fabregas, Flamini, Silva (Toure 65), Hleb, Adebayor, Bendtner (Van Persie 65).
    Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Song Billong, Justin Hoyte.

    Booked: Bendtner, Silva.

    Att: 19,676.

    Ref: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas 7.00 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

  • see also
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day
    Sunday's football photos
    09 Mar 08 |  Football
    Sunday football as it happened
    09 Mar 08 |  Football
    Palacios brother still a hostage
    09 Mar 08 |  Football

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