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."

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
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

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor