Arsenal vs Wigan 21:00 SS3
LONDON - There is plenty at stake at the top and bottom of the Premier League when Arsenal host Wigan Athletic at the Emirates Stadium on Monday evening.
Arsenal’s stunning recent run has seen them move five points clear of the challengers for a top three finish, and with Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle all sitting out league action this weekend Monday’s game gives the Gunners a chance to tighten their grip on an automatic qualification place.
Despite the positivity surrounding the Emirates of late, Arsene Wenger was on the defensive this week after claims by former captain Sol Campbell that the club do not aim high enough.
“There are two basic trophies for me that are the sign of the quality of a team; they are the Premier League and the Champions League,” said Wenger.
“The Champions League is prestigious and it is half league and half cup. That means that at the end, the teams who wins must show real quality. All the rest, they are trophies of course and they are important, but they do not really reflect the deep quality of a team. The championship does, and we want to win it.
“Our ambition is intact, to win the championship. It depends on how we finish the season to decide how much we need to buy to have a chance to win the championship next season.
“What has not changed at all is our policy that we will be as ambitious as ever and spend the money we have available, if possible in an intelligent and wise way.
We have always spent money because we are ambitious for top-class players and if you look at the history of our last 15 years, we have always had top-class players. Sol Campbell is one of them.”
Wigan’s 1-0 win over Manchester United last week moved them out of the bottom three, and with Queen’s Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers both losing on Saturday the game at the Emirates is a big opportunity - albeit a tough test.
“We are going away from home and playing against a side who have been as successful as ever at home,” said Wigan manager Roberto Martinez. “If you look at the last few performances they have been untouchable in the way they are playing their football, controlling games and scoring goals.
“But we know that if we are at our best, we can be competitive against anyone.”
Arsenal remain without Emmanuel Frimpong (knee) and Per Mertesacker (ankle), while Gervinho (ankle), Kieran Gibbs (groin) and Abou Diaby (hamstring) are all unlikely to feature. Jack Wilshere’s return from an ankle injury is still at least a week away.
The Gunners have only lost one of their 13 Premier League meetings with Wigan, winning ten, and have never lost at home to the Latics.
Arsenal have scored a total of 19 goals in the last six meetings with Wigan in the league and go into Monday’s game on the back of five straight home wins.
The Latics have picked up seven points from their last four away games in the league, but have lost all six of the Premier League visits to Arsenal.