Wigan Athletic have been relegated from the Premier League after a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, a result that leaves Aston Villa, Sunderland, Fulham and Southampton breathing a huge sigh of relief, but also puts Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League fate out of their own hands on the final day of the season.
bwin go 7/20 that Arsenal finish in the top four, with Tottenham now as big as 2/1 after the Gunners went a point clear of their north London rivals with just one game left.
The rearranged match last night was a game both sides needed to win to enter the last day of the Premier League campaign able to shape their own destiny, with Arsenal looking to go back above Tottenham into the top four and Wigan requiring the points to give themselves hope of avoiding the drop.
But it proved to be a match too far for Wigan, who took to the field 72 hours after lifting the FA Cup at Wembley.
An early goal for Lukas Podolski put the Gunners in control and the hosts enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges but were shocked when Shaun Maloney struck a brilliant free-kick on the stroke of half-time to send the Latics into the break all square.
But goals from Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and a second for Podolski gave Arsenal a comfortable win that moved them into fourth, ending an eight-year stay in the top flight for Wigan, who made history as the first club to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season.
Despite the disappointment, Latics boss Roberto Martinez was defiant at the final whistle, drawing on the positives of the club’s spell in the Premier League and predicting a bright future.
“I never expected this,” he said. “The players have been great ambassadors for Wigan Athletic. I don’t think we’ve deserved to be in the bottom three but we are. The players have grown massively over the last few seasons and the last ten months.
“No-one expected Wigan to be up here for eight seasons but we’ll look forward. We will keep defying the odds, keep moving forward and make sure this football club has an incredibly bright future.”
Arsene Wenger expressed sympathy for Wigan’s plight, but was delighted that his Arsenal team now head to face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on the final day knowing a win will secure a top-four finish.
“I am confident because we have experience,” said the Frenchman. “We play for a long time under massive pressure and we have always found the solutions with the problems that we have faced.
“It is all open, but it depends on our result. Even third place is not out of sight if we win the game. It’s a big hurdle (going to St James’ Park) but we’re up for it, we can only give our best, we want to be focused.”
Arsenal are 11/20 to beat Newcastle on Sunday, who are 19/4 to do Tottenham a huge favour by beating the Gunners. The draw, a result that would give Spurs a chance of leapfrogging their rivals, is 3/1.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side are 7/25 to beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane, with the draw at 9/2 and away win 33/4.