Walcott turns tide after Gibbs dodges red card

Wigan Athletic 1 Arsenal 4

Arsenal ended as deceptively comfortable-looking winners of a game that seriously threatened to bring their long unbeaten record in the Premier League to a shuddering halt.

Four goals in the last half-hour – the key one from the unlikely source of the substitute defender, Mikaël Silvestre – saw them safely home after they had been second best for much of the game. They might have stayed that way if their defender, Kieran Gibbs, had been sent off in the first half for bringing down Antonio Valencia as he ran at goal, rather than merely booked.

"I can't go along with the referee when he says that Antonio isn't in control of the situation," said the Wigan manager, Steve Bruce. "He's the fastest player on the field."

Wigan gave hints from the start that they were going to pose problems. Mido's flicked header gave Hugo Rodallega an opening from which he should have done more than pull his shot across goal, while Valencia got to the byline and was then a little too studious with his cross. Arsenal had not lost in the League for 17 matches, but it took them just over 17 minutes to fall behind in this one. Their problems began with Denilson's hand-ball, Mido's 40 yard free-kick was deflected over the bar and Ben Watson's corner found Emmerson Boyce beyond the far post.

Lukasz Fabianski, in the side for the injured Manuel Almunia, could not claim his header, nobody came to his rescue with a clearance and Mido launched himself to volley through the crowd of players on the goalline.

It was a bad half for Arsène Wenger's men, who suffered further disruption when Johan Djourou was stretchered off with a knee injury that could mean a long lay-off. It could and should have been worse when, deep in time added on, Gibbs blatantly brought down Valencia. A red card looked a certainty, but when the defender escaped with yellow his let-off was compounded when Watson's free-kick came off the inside of the post and stayed out.

"We might still have lost, but it was a big turning point in the game," said Bruce of Alan Wiley's decision.

Arsenal continued to live dangerously after the break. The threatening Mido beat Fabianski to get in a looping header which was cleared off the line by Gibbs – an extra affront to Wigan supporters who were convinced that he should not even have been on the field. It was a double blow for the home side, with Mido having to go off with a facial injury from his collision with the goalkeeper.

That was the moment when the tide began to turn. With Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie warming up on the touchline, it was Theo Walcott who made the breakthrough, firing home after Andrey Arshavin's incursion had produced a loose ball in the area. Silvestre, the former Manchester United stalwart, struck on 71 minutes, after Michael Brown had conceded a free-kick and been booked for a foul on Cesc Fabregas.

Wigan's defence fell apart in the last few minutes to allow further goals to Arshavin and Alex Song – the first of them from a comical blunder by Jason Koumas – but even Wenger conceded that it might have been very different if Gibbs had seen red.

"I was scared it might be red, but I hoped it would be yellow," said the Arsenal manager. "If we had gone down to 10 men, we would still have tried to win the game.

"It was great character and mental strength from such a young team."

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice