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Premier League: Wigan 0 Arsenal 1

Mikel Arteta scored a second-half penalty to send Arsenal third in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Wigan.

The Spanish midfielder sent Ali Al Habsi the wrong way from the spot on 60 minutes following Jean Beausejour’s clumsy foul on Theo Walcott after neat work between the England attacker and Santi Cazorla.

Wigan were the better team for long spells, but wasteful crossing from the wings and poor finishing from Aroune Kone left Roberto Martinez’s side frustrated and winless in five league games.

Wigan won 2-1 at the Emirates the last time the sides met and showed no fear in the first half, but it was Arsenal who had the first real chance.

Cazorla turned James McArthur easily and found Arteta, who fed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain toward goal, but Al Habsi was on hand to produce a fine one-handed stop.

Kone then broke well from midfield shortly after before shooting wastefully, while Lukas Podolski drove an effort at Al Habsi after a fine run.

Wigan should have taken the lead after 24 minutes as Franco Di Santo put Kone clean through on goal, but with just Wojciech Szczesny to beat, the Ivory Coast striker dragged his shot wide from eight yards.

The Gunners struggled with Wigan’s high-pressure tactics, while Beausejour’s and Ronnie Stam’s deliveries were poor as wild crosses typified a first half full of energy but low on quality.

The second half began much as the first with both teams breaking forward looking for an early goal, and Al Habsi was forced into a great stop on 48 minutes.

Oxlade-Chamberlain found space on the right wing and pulled the ball back for Walcott, whose finish was close enough for the Wigan goalkeeper to get down to and tip away well.

The game turned with half an hour to go as Arsenal found the break through, with the danger again coming from the right.

Walcott and Cazorla’s link-up play on the wing was too intricate for Beausejour, who got into a tangle with Walcott and brought the striker down, leaving Arteta to slot home for the lead.

Wigan kept coming despite the setback, and Kone did well to work the ball from the left before forcing a fine low stop from Szczesny with 20 minutes remaining.

Per Mertesacker had to be alert to deny Kone late on in the area, while McArthur dragged a shot wide late in injury time as Arsene Wenger’s side saw the game out for their third straight Premier League victory.

Sat 22 Dec, 2012
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