Wigan Athletic 0 Arsenal 0

Last updated : 09 March 2008 By Footymad Previewer
Arsenal came back down to earth with a bump after their midweek European heroics against AC Milan as battling Wigan pushed them all the way as the Latics clinched a vital point in their fight for Premier League survival.

Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas had opportunities to win the match and give Arsenal a four-point advantage at the top of the table, but Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland helped his chances of an England recall by producing a top-class performance.

Wigan were served early notice of the threat posed by the pace and power of the Gunners' leading scorer Adebayor - and almost found themselves one down inside the first minute.

Fabregas hit the perfect ball as the big striker headed to the edge of the area, but Kirkland was quick to react to the danger, racing out to get one hand to the shot and keep it out.

Adebayor soon threatened again, cutting in from the left only for Mario Melchiot to track him and get in a block.

Nicklas Bendtner fired a shot wide before Wigan's first attempt from Wilson Palacios flew wide of the target.

Latics were furious when referee Rob Styles failed to blow up for a clear offside and it almost spelled disaster for Wigan. The move continued and Kirkland pulled off a quality save, diving to his right and turning away Fabregas' header.

The Spaniard then earned himself a lecture from the official after appearing to indicate that he had been struck in the face by Emile Heskey, although the replay failed to provide any evidence of foul play by the England striker.

Early in the second half, Wigan survived a scare when a free-kick, headed out by Paul Scharner, went straight to Adebayor but he hit his shot at Kirkland.

Latics lost Heskey, who limped off to be replaced by Antoine Sibierski, and the Frenchman was soon involved in the action setting up Jason Koumas for a shot which was deflected wide.

Wigan were committing men forward as they grew in confidence but they needed resolute defence as Arsenal hit them on the break.

Ecuador international Antonio Valencia forced a terrific save from Manuel Almunia with a fierce right footer from the edge of the box.

Robin van Persie came off the bench and blew a chance of instant glory when he hammered a long-range free-kick way over the Wigan bar.

He suffered a similar fate with another effort as the Gunners went hunting for a winner and Fabregas sliced another shot wide.

In a nail-biting finish, Kirkland saved the Latics again, keeping out another Fabregas shot although in stoppage time Wigan piled on the pressure and it was Arsenal that were left hanging on for a point.