Watson set Wigan on the road to a stunning comeback win with 10 minutes to go
By Phil Dawkes
A late Wigan comeback has all but ended Arsenal's title bid and also virtually secured their top-flight status.
Theo Walcott's neat finish gave Arsenal the lead, which they doubled via Mikael Silvestre's header from a corner.
Three goals in 10 minutes turned the game in Wigan's favour late on, with Ben Watson side-footing in the first.
A mistake from Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski allowed Titus Bramble to head Wigan level and then, deep into injury time Charles N'Zogbia's strike won it.
It was a stunning end to a game that Arsenal had seemed certain to win and in the process keep alive a title bid that was reawakened by Chelsea's 2-1 defeat at Spurs on Saturday.
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That result will have altered the pessimistic admission of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger after his side's own 2-1 loss at White Hart Lane on Wednesday that their challenge was over.
He must now revert back to his initial prognosis that Arsenal are destined to finish trophyless for the fifth season in a row.
Wigan are very much in a race of their own at the bottom end of the table and cannot breathe easily just yet but this victory goes a long way to securing them a sixth successive season in the Premier League.
The Latics now have a seven-point cushion over 18th-placed Hull with three games to play.
Whilst taking nothing away from Wigan, a large portion of the blame must go to an admittedly weakened Arsenal defence, which had already demonstrated its fragility earlier in the game and capitulated during a remarkable last 10 minutes.
Watson's 80th-minute side-foot finish from a Hugo Rodallega pull-back was greeted with cheers of hope more than expectation from the home crowd.
However, this quickly became belief that three points were these for the taking when Fabianski - filling in for injured first-choice keeper Manuel Almunia - fumbled a corner and allowed Bramble to head home the equaliser in the 89th minute.
With momentum fully behind them, the Latics took full advantage of their shell-shocked opponents when, four minutes into injury time, N'Zogbia unleashed a superb, curling shot from the edge of the area into the top corner of the net fro the killer blow.
The Gunners had been far from their best in the 80 minutes prior to Watson's first for Wigan but appeared to be on course to move within three points of Chelsea courtesy of a brace of goals in a 10-minute spell either side of half time.
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Walcott's opener - a neat finish after he had been put through on goal by Nicklas Bendtner's pass - was reward for the way Arsenal had grown into the game throughout the first half following a nervous start, no doubt partly due to the absence of key defensive figures.
Fabianski looked uncertain as he tentatively edged forward but failed to claim a Watson corner, which flashed across goal just ahead of the lunging Mario Melchiot early on.
Minutes later, the Gunners defence - missing both first-choice centre-backs William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen, gifted possession to N'Zogbia but his shot from the edge of the area bobbled tamely wide.
The first goal was well timed - coming just before the break - and the second even more so as Arsenal quashed any momentum the home side may have had from their half time team-talk.
Silvestre was given far too much room on the penalty spot to rise and head home Nasri's corner into the far corner of the net which, judging by his scrambled attempt to get across to clear, Watson had neglected his duty to cover.
Arsenal celebrated the goal like the game-winner it appeared to be, little aware of the late drama still to come.
90:00+4:30 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
90:00+3:43 Paul Scharner fouled by Robin van Persie, the ref awards a free kick. Mario Melchiot takes the direct free kick.
90:00+3:05 Fran Merida concedes a free kick for a foul on Mohamed Diame. Free kick taken by Mario Melchiot.
90:00+1:47 Substitution Paul Scharner comes on in place of Ben Watson.
90:00+0:20 Assist on the goal came from Hugo Rodallega.
90:00+0:20 GOAL - Charles N'Zogbia:Wigan 3 - 2 Arsenal Charles N'Zogbia finds the net with a goal from outside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Wigan 3-2 Arsenal.
89:31 Substitution Craig Eastmond leaves the field to be replaced by Robin van Persie.
88:09 GOAL - Titus Bramble:Wigan 2 - 2 Arsenal Titus Bramble scores a headed goal from close in. Wigan 2-2 Arsenal.
88:01 Corner taken left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia,
87:49 Victor Moses takes a shot. Blocked by Sol Campbell.
86:58 Charles N'Zogbia takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Ben Watson takes a shot. Clearance made
by Samir Nasri.
86:16 Bacary Sagna concedes a free kick for a foul on Victor Moses. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Ben Watson from left
wing, Craig Eastmond makes a clearance.
82:18 Samir Nasri takes a shot. Chris Kirkland makes a comfortable save.
80:43 Substitution Emmanuel Eboue is brought on as a substitute for Theo Walcott.
80:43 Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Fran Merida coming on for Tomas Rosicky.
79:48 The assist for the goal came from Victor Moses.
79:48 GOAL - Ben Watson:Wigan 1 - 2 Arsenal A goal is scored by Ben Watson from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Wigan 1-2 Arsenal.
78:59 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Bacary Sagna. Maynor Figueroa takes the direct free kick.
78:13 Shot from long range by Titus Bramble goes wide of the left-hand upright.
75:52 Vassiriki Diaby fouled by James McCarthy, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
72:54 Mario Melchiot fouled by Tomas Rosicky, the ref awards a free kick. Ben Watson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed
from right wing, clearance by Nicklas Bendtner.
72:15 Nicklas Bendtner challenges Maynor Figueroa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Maynor Figueroa restarts play with the free
71:40 Charles N'Zogbia takes a shot. Save by Lukasz Fabianski.
69:06 Charles N'Zogbia is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Lukasz Fabianski restarts play with the free kick.
68:36 Theo Walcott takes a shot. Titus Bramble gets a block in.
67:59 Direct free kick taken by Bacary Sagna.
67:59 Booking Titus Bramble goes into the referee's book.
67:49 Titus Bramble challenges Theo Walcott unfairly and gives away a free kick.
66:10 Foul by James McCarthy on Tomas Rosicky, free kick awarded. Gael Clichy takes the free kick.
65:21 Effort from deep inside the area by Hugo Rodallega misses to the right of the target.
64:35 Mohamed Diame takes a shot. Vassiriki Diaby gets a block in. Foul by Victor Moses on Bacary Sagna, free kick awarded. Free
kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
62:43 Outswinging corner taken by Samir Nasri from the right by-line, Ben Watson makes a clearance.
61:18 Samir Nasri takes the direct free kick.
61:18 Substitution Victor Moses on for Marcelo Moreno.
61:18 Foul by Ben Watson on Tomas Rosicky, free kick awarded.
60:56 Ben Watson takes a shot. Save by Lukasz Fabianski.
59:59 Foul by Mikael Silvestre on Marcelo Moreno, free kick awarded. Titus Bramble takes the free kick.
58:45 Steve Gohouri concedes a free kick for a foul on Craig Eastmond. Vassiriki Diaby restarts play with the free kick.
57:48 Charles N'Zogbia fouled by Gael Clichy, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by James McCarthy.
57:01 Inswinging corner taken by James McCarthy from the left by-line, save by Lukasz Fabianski.
56:35 Maynor Figueroa takes a shot. Sol Campbell gets a block in.
55:17 Corner taken short by Charles N'Zogbia.
52:14 Craig Eastmond is penalised for a handball. Free kick taken by Ben Watson. Shot from long range by Charles N'Zogbia misses
to the right of the goal.
50:30 Steve Gohouri gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Eastmond. Gael Clichy restarts play with the free kick.
48:32 Charles N'Zogbia takes a shot. Save made by Lukasz Fabianski.
47:14 Assist on the goal came from Samir Nasri.
47:14 GOAL - Mikael Silvestre:Wigan 0 - 2 Arsenal Mikael Silvestre finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the area. Wigan 0-2 Arsenal.
46:56 Corner from the right by-line taken by Samir Nasri,
46:39 Vassiriki Diaby takes a shot. Save by Chris Kirkland.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+1:09 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
44:59 Craig Eastmond is adjudged to have handled the ball. Ben Watson restarts play with the free kick.
43:49 Effort from the edge of the area by Theo Walcott goes wide of the left-hand upright.
43:18 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Theo Walcott. Direct free kick taken by Ben Watson.
42:51 Nicklas Bendtner is ruled offside. Steve Gohouri takes the indirect free kick.
40:50 Assist on the goal came from Nicklas Bendtner.
40:50 GOAL - Theo Walcott:Wigan 0 - 1 Arsenal Theo Walcott scores a goal from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Wigan 0-1 Arsenal.
40:17 James McCarthy gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky. Direct free kick taken by Tomas Rosicky.
37:40 Gael Clichy fouled by Charles N'Zogbia, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lukasz Fabianski.
36:56 Free kick taken by Chris Kirkland.
36:56 Booking Booking for Samir Nasri for dissent.
36:49 Foul by Samir Nasri on Mario Melchiot, free kick awarded.
35:29 Unfair challenge on Tomas Rosicky by Charles N'Zogbia results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Samir Nasri.
34:59 Tomas Rosicky takes a shot. Save by Chris Kirkland.
33:41 Tomas Rosicky produces a cross, Maynor Figueroa makes a clearance.
31:35 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Chris Kirkland.
29:33 Hugo Rodallega fouled by Bacary Sagna, the ref awards a free kick. Maynor Figueroa takes the free kick.
27:51 Unfair challenge on Craig Eastmond by Charles N'Zogbia results in a free kick. Lukasz Fabianski takes the direct free kick.
27:22 Short corner taken by Ben Watson.
24:44 Charles N'Zogbia takes a shot. Save by Lukasz Fabianski.
23:24 The ball is delivered by Theo Walcott, Headed effort from inside the area by Sol Campbell misses to the left of the goal.
23:24 Booking Mohamed Diame goes into the book.
23:15 Unfair challenge on Vassiriki Diaby by Mohamed Diame results in a free kick.
21:55 The ball is swung over by Charles N'Zogbia.
20:59 Corner taken left-footed by Charles N'Zogbia to the near post, Craig Eastmond makes a clearance. Corner taken by Charles N'Zogbia
from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Vassiriki Diaby.
19:28 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mohamed Diame by Craig Eastmond. Ben Watson takes the free kick.
19:07 Marcelo Moreno takes a shot. Blocked by Bacary Sagna.
15:42 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Maynor Figueroa by Vassiriki Diaby. Direct free kick taken by Chris Kirkland.
15:02 Unfair challenge on Mohamed Diame by Vassiriki Diaby results in a free kick. Titus Bramble takes the free kick.
14:38 Charles N'Zogbia gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gael Clichy. Gael Clichy takes the free kick.
13:44 Theo Walcott has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
11:48 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Samir Nasri from the right by-line, Shot by Nicklas Bendtner. Save made by Chris
11:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Steve Gohouri on Nicklas Bendtner. Craig Eastmond takes the free kick.
10:38 Charles N'Zogbia produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.
9:25 Unfair challenge on Theo Walcott by Titus Bramble results in a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Gael Clichy from the
free kick, comfortable save by Chris Kirkland.
6:49 Inswinging corner taken by Ben Watson from the left by-line played to the near post.
4:45 The assistant referee flags for offside against Charles N'Zogbia. Lukasz Fabianski takes the free kick.
0:00 The game begins.
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