Arsenal 4 Wigan Athletic 1 match report: Arsenal joy is Wigan’s despair as FA Cup heroes are doomed to relegation

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Latics looked tired after Saturday's triumph at Wembley

the Emirates Stadium

From Wembley ecstasy, to Championship anonymity. Wigan Athletic have become the first FA Cup winners to be relegated after they ran into an Arsenal team on a mission to Europe.

Wigan went down their way, attacking with verve, playing with spirit, but defending like strangers. For a while they had Arsenal (and relegation rivals Sunderland and Aston Villa) worried. Shaun Maloney levelled Lukasz Podolski's early strike to sent the teams into the break level. But Arsenal could not be denied and Theo Walcott, Podolski again, and Aaron Ramsey scored thrice in eight minutes just after the hour mark to end Wigan's eight-season sojourn in the top flight.

Arsenal now head for Newcastle on Sunday, one win away from guaranteeing a 16th successive shot at the Champions League. Wigan go back to Lancashire for a bitter-sweet homecoming. They, too, have European football next year, but combining Europa League and Championship is going to be a tough ask, especially as their squad will be raided this summer. Both Arsene Wenger and Roberto Martinez suggested they were capable of bouncing straight back but the latter was vague when asked if he would stay to mastermind their return.

Wigan were last relegated in 1993, to the fourth tier. Dave Whelan then arrived to bankroll their climb up the leagues. But a club with wage bill of £40m (£100m less than Arsenal) is always going to be flirting with danger in the top flight. They at least go down with a freshly-lifted trophy. An Arsenal fan would need to be at least of teenage years to remember them winning silverware.

Martinez had gone with the same XI that made Gooners jealous on Saturday. Well though they played then it seemed a risky move for the players would have been drained mentally as well as physically. It was immediately obvious that Arsenal, who not had played for ten days, were fresher in thought and deed. Riding the impetus of their fine spring run they ran at Wigan like starving men at a buffet and could have led within ten minutes. Theo Walcott broke down the right, was given time to pick out a cross, and found Santi Cazorla who ran past the dozing James McArthur to send a diving header just wide.

The reprieve was brief. Another right-wing cross led to a corner and, when Cazorla delivered, Wigan's defence seemed to stand aside, Podolski heading in after the cross had bounced. Joel Robles who had remained on his line, shouted accusingly at Paul Scharner and Antolin Alcaraz who had allowed the ball past them, but it was too late. Wigan trailed.

Arsenal went in search of more but with Wigan dropping deep, blocking their shots and stifling them, they throttled back and allowed Wigan to pass their way back into a game they should have been out of. Midway through the half they created their first opportunity but Laurent Koscielny cleared acrobatically as Arouna Kone threatened to nip a chipped forward ball away from Wojciech Szczesny

The crowd grew restless. Arsenal's passing became more ponderous. It took another set-piece for them to worry Wigan again, Koscielney stabbing wide form Per Mertesacker's near-post flick. At the other end Shaun Maloney, who looks as if he would fit very well into an Arsenal team, began wriggling into spaces and testing opponents. In the 45th minute Mikael Arteta dragged him down, arm-locked-in-arm (thougyh Wenger thought the kick should have gone the other way). Maloney stepped up and curled a superb free-kick around the wall to give the Latics parity. Two minutes later the whistle went and Arsenal sloped off, to boos, though the main vitriol was reserved for referee Mike Dean, a familiar bete noire at the Emirates.

Arsenal had to win. Wigan had to win. So very quickly the game became stretched as both teams raised the tempo and went in search of a winner. Wigan, looking to prey upon Arsenal's growing nerves and frustration - which was being given full voice by the crowd - were first to threaten, Roger Espinoza and Maloney establishing a bridgehead on the edge of the Arsenal box from which Kone played a one-two with McManaman before drawing a sharp save from Szczesny.

Three minutes later it was Robles' turn to stand defiant the Spaniard making a pair of breath-taking saves from Cazorla after Walcott had again opened up Wigan's left flank. The loose ball fell to Tomas Rosicky, who dragged it wide.

The play switched again. Emmerson Boyce, from a similar position to where Ben Watson scored at Wembley, glanced a header goalwards. Lightening did not strike twice. It went over. Minutes later Walcott again raced away, this time going for goal himself. Robles blocked.

The match resembled a basketball game, but on a huge court and without the defensive zoning up. Finally Cazorla went down the flank behind Espinoza - all night Arsenal were clever at attacking the space in behind the wing-backs. He crossed and Walcott, with that devastating turn of speed, beat Alcaraz, Boyce and Robles to the ball. The Emirates exploded with noise of an unfamiliar volume. It was like a Champions League tie - appropriate really, since that was the prize.

Eight minutes later the Emirates, fuming at the break, was delirious with joy. It was all over. First a simple long ball from Szczesny was won by Podolski, who then reacted quickest as Cazorla headed his nod-down forward and chipped Robles. Next Ramsey was sent clear of a square, high line. He drove in towards goal before lashing the ball into the roof of the net.

The contest was done. Martinez stood in the rain as his team battled on to no avail before being generously applauded off by the home support. But Arsenal, last relegated a century ago this year, could have no idea of their pain.

Man of the match Cazorla.

Match rating 8/10.

Referee M Dean (Merseyside).

Attendance 60,068.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes