Premier League: Arsenal 4 Wigan 1
By Football News
Wigan's relegation from the Premier League is confirmed after Lukas Podolski's double fired Arsenal to a 4-1 win over them on Tuesday.
Podolski took advantage of some poor Wigan defending to open the scoring early in the game and he doubled his tally just after the hour. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey added the other two for Arsenal to make Shaun Maloney's first-half equaliser for Wigan irrelevant.
After their FA Cup final triumph over Manchester City Wigan knew that they must avoid defeat in order to keep their survival hopes alive, and Roberto Martinez stuck with the same 18-man squad that had been successful at Wembley.
After 10 days without a match, Arsenal brought Kieran Gibbs in for Nacho Monreal at left-back, Jack Wilshere made the bench, despite requiring ankle surgery.
Within 11 minutes Wigan's survival hopes were rocked as Podolski opened for Arsenal with his 10th goal of the season. The German striker pushed away the attentions of James McArthur and when Santi Cazorla's corner reached him, he had a free header from five yards.
The goal appeared to wake the Wigan players up, their passing improved and they looked confident on the ball but a lack of attacking options meant they were unable to test Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal's play continued to look dangerous but they missed some good opportunities to double their lead.
Wigan got the reward for their improved play just before half-time as Maloney grabbed a lifeline in the game and the season. The Scot was fouled by Mikel Arteta on the edge of the penalty area and took the resulting free-kick himself, firing it over the wall and beyond Szczesny at his near post.
The visitors came out for the second half full of confidence and very nearly took the lead through Kone three minutes after the break. Some neat build-up play saw the ball drop to Callum McManaman, he was challenged on the edge of the area but the loose ball dropped to Kone and Szczesny had to make a fine save to deny the Ivorian.
James McCarthy had the ball in the net minutes later but the Irishman was flagged for offside, and just as quickly the Wigan goal was under threat but Joel Robles made good saves from Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.
Theo Walcott, who had been very quiet in the opening hour of the game, brought it to life in the 63rd minute with a close-range finish from a Cazorla cross.
The Spaniard broke down the right-hand side and fired a low ball into the six yard box, Walcott met it before Joel, flicked the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net for league goal number 14 of the season.
Victory was secured for the hosts four minutes later as Podolski added his second of the game, Antolin Alcaraz's poor header dropped to Cazorla, who cushioned it into the pass of the German and he flicked the ball past Joel as he came to meet the ball.
Martinez's side were falling apart and in the 70th minute Aaron Ramsey added a fourth for Arsenal, he was released down the left, moved unchallenged into the penalty area and fired into the roof of the net, despite having Podolski square demanding his hat-trick goal.
The visitors were unable to pull off a miracle, with an off-target Franco di Santo effort the sum total of their late charge and will be playing Championship football, alongside their UEFA Europa League campaign next season.