Wigan: Mikel Arteta scored from the penalty spot to enable Arsenal to complete a hat-trick of Premier League victories for the first time this season with a 1-0 victory at Wigan on Saturday. The Spanish midfielder netted on the hour after Theo Walcott was brought down by Jean Beausejour.
Beating relegation-threatened Wigan lifted Arsenal into the four Champions League qualification spots as the team recovers from their worst start to a season since Arsene Wenger took charge in 1996. Wenger named the same team that beat Reading 5-2 on Monday, with Walcott again given a chance to impress up front.
Arsenal had the first chance of the game in the ninth minute when Arteta was allowed time and space to drive forward and play in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right but his shot was well saved at the near post by Ali Al Habsi. The Oman goalkeeper was making his 100th appearance for Wigan and he was called on again to beat away a stinging shot from Lukas Podolski a short time later.
But Wigan were more than matching their opponents for neat passing moves. The frustration for the hosts was they could not turn possession into chances. Wigan's pace up front had the potential to trouble Arsenal, and Arouna Kone timed his run to perfection to collect Franco Di Santo's through ball.
There was nothing defender Per Mertesacker could do but, but with only goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to beat, Kone dragged his shot wide. Arsenal were getting increasingly frustrated throughout the first half at their failure to break down what has been a porous Wigan defense this season.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had been quiet in the first half but he began the second in fine fashion and his pull-back set up Walcott for a shot from 10 yards that Al Habsi blocked.
Walcott was the key player when Arsenal did break the deadlock after an hour, though, when the forward was adjudged to have been pushed by Beausejour in the penalty area. With 20 minutes to go, Wigan twice tested Szczesny. Maynor Figueroa sent in a low skidding shot and Kone drew a block from the Arsenal goalkeeper, but it turned out to be a frustrating day for the hosts.