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Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL: Arsenal shattered by astonishing Wigan fightback

EPL: Arsenal shattered by astonishing Wigan fightback

Last updated on: April 19, 2010 11:19 IST

Arsenal shattered by astonishing Wigan fightback

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Arsenal's faint hopes of winning the Premier League title were finally killed off when Wigan Athletic scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to snatch a dramatic 3-2 victory on Sunday.

Arsenal, lifted by Chelsea's defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, looked to be coasting to victory through goals by Theo Walcott and Mikael Silvestre either side of halftime.

But Ben Watson, Titus Bramble and Charles N'Zogbia struck in quick succession to turn the match on its head and give Wigan their first league victory over Arsene Wenger's side.


Image: Arsenal players react after losing the match
Photographs: Reuters
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'Most disappointing defeat of the season'

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"It is the most disappointing defeat of the season and the way we conceded, it was also the most disappointing," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"It is difficult to understand and accept, perhaps the players felt too comfortable but in football you must stay focused for 90 minutes and we were punished.

"We made mistakes and they took advantage, they were sharper in the final part of the game," he added.


Image: Arsene Wenger

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Wigan keep their hopes alive in Premier League

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Wigan had already beaten Chelsea and Liverpool at home this season but captain Mario Melchiot said it was his side's biggest victory of the campaign.

"I was so happy when we scored the winner because we needed the points," he said.

"It's a very big result, very good for the morale of the team," he added.

The result moved Wigan on to 35 points, seven clear of Hull City, and virtually guaranteed their Premier League survival for another season.

Arsenal, who would have moved to within three points of leaders Chelsea with a win, remained third on 71 points, six behind Chelsea and five adrift of Manchester United with just three matches to play.


Image: Wigan Athletic's Figueroa challenges Arsenal's Diarby during their match

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Late goals dent Arsenal

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Wenger conceded that Arsenal were out of the title race on Wednesday when they lost 2-1 at arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur but they were handed an unlikely lifeline when Spurs beat Chelsea.

They looked poised to grab it when their depleted team coasted through the first 80 minutes at the DW Stadium without seriously being troubled.

Walcott impishly put the Gunners ahead after 41 minutes, perfecting slotting past Chris Kirkland. Silvestre, replacing the injured Thomas Vermaelen in defence, made it 2-0 from a corner after 48 minutes with his first of the season.

Wigan, who had only sporadically threatened, pulled one back when Arsenal fan Watson scored after 80 minutes to set up what proved to be an astonishing finale and the most unlikely comeback in the Premier League this season.

Bramble made it 2-2 in the 89th minute following a bad mistake by Arsenal reserve goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who was making his first appearance since an error-strewn display in a Champions League match against Porto in February.

N'Zogbia won the match with a superb strike from the edge of the penalty area which flew in off the post.


Image: Wigan Athletic's Bramble reacts after scoring

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Villa down Pompey

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Aston Villa moved up to sixth place after winning 2-1 at Portsmouth where 19-year-old substitute Nathan Delfouneso scored the winner with his first Premier League goal eight minutes from time.

Michael Brown scored his first Pompey goal to put them ahead after 10 minutes before John Carew equalised six minutes later. Carew then saw his fiercely struck penalty saved by David James four minutes before halftime.


Image: John Carew scores the equaliser

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United live to fight another day

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A stoppage-time goal by Paul Scholes gave Manchester United a dramatic 1-0 win at Manchester City on Saturday, breathing new life into their Premier League title hopes when they looked dead and buried.

Scholes, who signed a new one-year contract with the champions on Friday, headed home Patrice Evra's cross in the dying seconds to light up a tentative affair between the city rivals.

"I couldn't see a goal coming to be honest with you," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky television.

"It (winning the title) would have been very, very difficult without Scholes's goal," he admitted.

City's defeat dented their hopes of securing the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot. Spurs overtook them after beat Chelsea 2-1 at White Hart Lane.


Image: Paul Scholes heads the winner for United

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Spurs floor Chelsea

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Meanwhile on Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur floored Premier League leaders Chelsea 2-1 in a lively London derby that dealt a massive boost to Manchester United's hopes of retaining the title.

Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Spurs at White Hart Lane with a 15th minute penalty after a handball by Chelsea captain John Terry, whose nightmare evening ended when he collected a second yellow card.

Gareth Bale had hammered in Tottenham's second goal just before halftime with a low shot past Petr Cech at the near post that left the visitors reeling.

As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, 10-man Chelsea were lucky not to have conceded more goals as Spurs fans began to celebrate -- only for the chants of 'Ole' to stick in their throats when Frank Lampard pulled a goal back in stoppage time.


Image: Gareth Bale celebrates with team-mates after scoring

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