Premier League - Van Persie treble sinks Wigan

Sat, 22 Jan 16:58:00 2011

Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick as Arsenal went second in the Premier League with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Wigan Athletic at the Emirates Stadium.

The Dutch striker opened the scoring after 22 minutes and added a second 13 minutes after the break.

He missed a golden opportunity to record the first League hat-trick of his career when he lifted a 71st minute penalty over the crossbar following a professional foul by Gary Caldwell on Cesc Fabregas that saw the Wigan skipper dismissed.

But he swept home from close range five minutes from time to finally record his treble as the Gunners kept the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table.

Wigan stay in the relegation zone and only a superb performance from on-loan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi prevented Arsene Wenger’s men from running up a cricket score.

The Omani custodian was called on early to get down sharply to his right to deny a fierce shot from Samir Nasri and then made the pick of his many saves after a diagonal ball from Gael Clichy found Theo Walcott who squared to Van Persie but Al-Habsi managed to push the shot around the post from eight yards.

Gary Caldwell made a wonderful block to block a Fabregas shot before the inevitable breakthrough came after 22 minutes as Alex Song threaded the ball through to Van Persie and the in-form striker slammed the ball past the advancing Al-Habsi from 10 yards.

Steve Caldwell had his hand up for offside but Van Persie was level with left-back Maynor Figueroa allowing the Dutchman to record his first goal at the Emirates Stadium this season.

The onslaught continued thereafter with Al-Habsi denying Fabregas and Nasri on three separate occasions before Figueroa made a last-gasp tackle just as the skipper looked set to slot the ball in at the near post after sublimely nutmegging Steven Caldwell in the penalty area.

Of Arsenal’s 13 goal attempts in the opening 45 minutes none were more clear cut than the one wasted by Walcott who when faced with a one-on-one with Al-Habsi, opted to try and square to Fabregas who was denied by a sliding challenge from Gary Caldwell.

It was more of the same after the break, Nasri seeing a shot deflected behind for a corner and Walcott screwing an effort wide from a tight angle before Van Persie added a sublime second. Fabregas’ quick pass over the top caught Wigan napping and Van Persie volleyed home.

Wigan have only scored eight Premier League away goals, the fewest in the division, and failed to test Wojciech Szczesny all afternoon. It took until the 65th minute for their first effort on goal only for half-time sub Franco Di Santo to power a header wide.

The Scottish brothers at the heart of the Wigan defence were consistently caught square and the Latics were reduced to 10 men 20 minutes from time when a superbly weighted pass from Song left Gary Caldwell flat footed and he hauled down Fabregas who was bearing down on goal.

Referee Kevin Friend has no hesitation in pointing to the spot and brandishing the red card but Van Persie missed his first Premier League penalty since 2007.

Van Persie looked as if he would be denied that elusive hat-trick when he cut inside on to his favoured left-foot only for his curling effort to hit the outside of the post but Wigan were caught square again late on and Walcott held off Figueroa to allow the former Feyenoord man to blast the ball into the net from close range.

He left almost immediately to a standing ovation as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to a season-high six games in the Premier League.

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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