Saturday, 18 May 2013

Arsenal 4 Wigan 1, Manchester City 2 Reading 0 - match reports

The Gunners hosted newly crowned FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic at The Emirates on Tuesday night, knowing that they had to win to move back up into 4th place in-front of CL rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Wigan on the other hand had a task on their hands - win or they would join QPR and Reading... in the Championship next season.

The Gunners started the first half quickly and with purpose, taking Wigan by surprise after their FA Cup exertions on Saturday night against Manchester City. 

They opened the scoring after just eleven minutes thanks to a combination of poor marking and positioning at a corner by the Wigan players, who left Podolski free in the centre of the box to nod the ball over Joel into the roof of the net. 

Nodding home: Podolski takes advantage of some poor positioning to break the deadlock.
In-front, but not for long: Podolski celebrates his first of two goals with his team-mates.

After this, the match tempo slowed down and Arsenal dominated the possession of the ball without having many clear cut chances to widen the lead before half-time.

Wigan suddenly woke up after 30 minutes, and started to rattle the Arsenal defence gradually as they tried to get back into the match.
A controversial free-kick was given to Wigan from 20 yards out after Shaun Maloney appeared to lean into Mikel Arteta before falling down, but the referee felt Arteta pushed him down. 

Maloney hit the ball sweetly over the 4-man Arsenal wall, and the ball swerved at the last second past Szczesny into the bottom corner of the net to equalise just before half-time. 

Swerving free-kick: Shaun Maloney equalised for Wigan just before half-time.
Slight hope: Maloney celebrates his equaliser just before half-time.

The Gunners went into half-time feeling hard done by, and that spurred them on to win in the second half. 

Ivorian striker Arouna Kone was denied well by Szczesny after the break, before Cazorla forced a double save out of loanee (from Atletico Madrid) goalkeeper Joel Robles soon afterwards.

Cazorla found Walcott inside the box on the counter attack for Arsenal with a powerful, low drilled cross straight to the forward who slotted the ball past the helpless Joel into the net to make it 2-1 after 63 minutes. 

Passion: Walcott wheels away to celebrate his finish to give Arsenal the lead again. 

The Gunners doubled their lead just five minutes later after Cazorla headed the ball into the path of Podolski who cheekily chipped Joel who came out of his area to try and intercept the ball, but he was too late and could not stop the German striker from scoring his 11th EPL goal of the season.  

Cheeky chip: Podolski saw Joel off his line and took advantage with a chip to make it 3-1.

Cazorla made his 4TH ASSIST of the match in the 71st minute after a clever pass on the wing found Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey on the ball.

He ran past two Wigan defenders with pace and intent, before darting quickly into the box with team-mates in support. He capped off a great solo effort by slotting the ball past Joel at the near post into the net to end Wigan's hopes of getting back into the match - and their survival hopes.

Great solo effort: Aaron Ramsey celebrates his great finish to cap off a historic win for Arsenal 

On the other side of the country, Manchester City already knew that they could not replicate last year's final day drama to win the EPL title again because they were 13 points behind rivals United, but they could close the gap to 10 points with a win against already relegated Reading. 

They dominated the match at The Madejski Stadium, one day after the sacking of City manager Roberto Mancini. 

Quick passing and keeping possession well was the game for the away side, despite being denied on several occasions by English goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (who incidentally just got called up to the England squad) 

Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock in the 40th minute after some slick passing play was clinically finished by the Argentinan striker for his 12th EPL goal of the season.

Edin Dzeko doubled the lead just before the end of the match in the 88th minute after finding space inside the box before doing a fake shot and slotting the ball into the bottom corner of the net for his 14th EPL goal of the season. 

Manchester City moved within 10 points of EPL champions United with one match to play, while Reading made a good account of themselves against last year's champions.