Premier League - RVP nets as Arsenal beat Wigan
Arsenal's Premier League resurgence continued as a comfortable 4-0 victory over Wigan at the DW Stadium saw them move into fifth place in the table.
Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho and, inevitably, Robin van Persie all found themselves on the scoresheet as the Gunners registered a sixth victory in their past seven league games to draw level with Newcastle United.
Wigan, who move bottom of the table following Blackburn's victory over Swansea, offered little threat as Arsene Wenger oversaw the kind of accomplished victory that used to be so commonplace for Arsenal, but has been rather absent over the past 12 months.
Indeed, it was Arsenal's biggest away victory since the opening day of the 2009-10 season when they defeated Everton 6-1 at Goodison Park.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, a proud Catalan, took his cue from Barcelona when deploying Wigan in a rather amorphous and unexpected 4-6-0 formation, with Jordi Gomez operating in the Lionel Messi 'false nine' role.
It was the Spaniard who enjoyed the first chance of the match, though Messi would no doubt have done rather better when Wojciech Szczesny palmed a cross from David Jones into the path of Gomez, who had the goal at his mercy but fired his shot against Andre Santos.
The real impact of Wigan's tactical manoeuvring, far from ushering in a Barcelona-esque performance, was to leave them rather toothless in attack and it was Arsenal who enjoyed by far the greater weight of chances in the first half.
Gary Caldwell had almost scored an own goal when making a mess of an attempted clearance from a Theo Walcott cross before Arsenal did take control of the match with two goals in the space of a minute.
It was Arteta who struck the first blow when, on 28 minutes, he found a pocket of space 25 yards from goal and unleashed a swerving effort that flew past Ali Al Habsi, who should have done better in the Wigan goal as the ball flew through his fingers.
After the restart, Arsenal quickly won a corner and Vermaelen met Van Persie's deep delivery at the back post as he leaped above Caldwell to steer a precise header inside the far post and out of the reach of Al Habsi.
Having been at fault for the first goal and helpless for the second, Al Habsi then displayed the kind of form that has seen him become Wigan's best player in a dismal campaign when extending his left arm to make a fine save to deny Van Persie, who had shot first-time from Gervinho's square pass.
If Gomez was playing with little success dropping off the front from a central position, then his opposite number, Van Persie, was revelling in the chance to operate from withdrawn positions despite his role as a lone striker.
The Dutchman loves to drop deep to collect the ball and on the stroke of half-time he came into his own half to take possession before releasing Gervinho with a beautiful ball through the centre of the pitch. The Ivorian rounded Al Habsi but ran the ball far too wide and lost possession.
Arsenal perhaps should have had the chance to extend their lead just five minutes into the second half. Ramsey took possession of a loose ball and drove into the box before being clearly pulled back by Steve Gohouri. The midfielder, though, was denied a penalty by Mark Clattenburg.
The visiting side only had to wait until the 62nd minute for their third goal though. Van Persie exchanged passes with Alex Song before cutting inside his man and lashing a shot at goal. Al Habsi could only parry the effort into the path of Gervinho, who tapped in for his third Premier League goal of the season.
The goal was a combination of a lengthy passing move and Arsenal were clearly enjoying themselves on a slick surface at the DW Stadium. They constructed another fluid attack on 64 minutes but, unusually, when finding time and space in the box to apply the finishing touch, Van Persie skewed his shot wide of the post.
On 78 minutes he would not be denied though. Walcott skipped away from Caldwell and then retained possession as the Wigan skipper put in a desperate challenge in a failed attempt to nick the ball away.
Walcott waited for Van Persie to drop into a pocket of space and the Dutchman swept the ball home for the fourth and final goal, and his 14th of the season in the Premier League.