Date:Sunday March 9 2008
All the media hype before the game both during the week and today was focused on the state of the JJB pitch and no doubt the newspapers tomorrow will harp on about it but in truth this will be unfair as both sides sought to play a passing game ( and largely succeeded) and it also detracts from yet another committed team performance from the Latics.
Steve Bruce chose to keep faith with the starting line up from last week, the only changes being on the bench with the return of Killer and Taylor from injury at the expense of Olembe and Bent.
Arsenal bouyed by the tremendous victory in the Champions league at the San Siro on Tuesday started with purpose and could have been ahead in the first minute when Adebayor broke free and was one on one with Kirkland who did well to save.
Most of Wigan`s good play came down the right hand side with the skilful Melchiot linking with the mercurial Valencia who kept Clichy occupied all afternoon.
Latics best chance in the first half was when Valencia broke through and created spaced for a shot but inexplicably passed back to Palacios who blasted the ball wide.
Arsenal were playing the ball up the other end with some lovely one touch football making a mockery of the criticism of the pitch and the Latics back four who were outstanding had to be in top notch form.
When Arsenal did breach the defence they found Kirkland in imperious form which must put him in contention for an England recall.
Brown and Palacios worked hard in midfield amazingly Brown escaped a caution from a card happy Mr Styles whose only booking in the first half was to Bentner for taking the legs from under Koumas.
At one stage Heskey looked to be heading for a card of some colour when he clashed with Fabregas by the West stand and Fabregas went down clutching his face.
Mr Styles ignored Heskey and proceeded to admonish Fabregas but didn`t book him.
Heskey who once again looked off the pace the pace but challenged strongly in the last couple of minutes in the first half winning a corner but getting injured in the process.
Latics started the second half as if they had received a rocket form the gaffer with Brown, Koumas and Valencia looking particularly lively.
Heskey was limping with a foot injury (and is due to have an x-ray tomorrow)and it was no surprise when he was replaced in the 55th minute by Siberski .
Siberski immediately looked lively and whilst he hasn`t the pace of old he has a good footballing brain and was looking to lay the ball off to the wingers and to King who looked more at ease playing with the Frenchman than with Heskey.
The game was end to end stuff with both sides having chances to win it but both sides coming up against goalkeepers in top class form.
Alumina saving brilliantly from Valencia and Fabregas by Kirkland. Indeed in the last couple of minutes Latics could have won it when a three on two break wasn`t capitalised on and a corner resulted.
At the final whistle the roars that greeted the Latics heroes showed how important the crowd viewed the point and the third clean sheet on the trot gives the team a great platform to build on
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Date:Sunday March 9 2008
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