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Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal: Match Preview

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Arsenal travel north to cold Lancashire to face the Latics tomorrow. What do the entrails portend for our beloved Gunners in the frosty Lancastrian hibernaria?

Laurence Griffiths

Wigan Athletic vs. Arsenal
Kickoff: 7:45 AM EST, Saturday, December 22
Wigan, the Lancastrian Hibernaria, UK
Form: Wigan WLLDL (18th) | Arsenal LLWDW (5th)
SBNation Wigan Coverage: Pie Eaters Footie
TV Coverage: ESPN2, ESPN3.com

Arsenal travel north to face Wigan Athletic tomorrow, only two points behind fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur. Wigan are struggling for healthy bodies at the moment, the league's most-injured team, and they will be depleted in key areas, missing defender Adrian Lopez and midfielder James McCarthy. Wigan's 3-4-3 formation will most likely include David Jones, Emmerson Boyce, and Maynor Figueroa, along with wing backs Jean Beausejour and Ronnie Stam. Arsenal will need to work overlaps well with Bacary Sagna or Kieran Gibbs to work some extra width and pull the three center backs out of position, or things might get a bit awkward. Wigan do tend to play pretty high up the pitch, too, so Theo Walcott could provide a better option at striker to get in behind the defense than Olivier Giroud, but the key will probably be on the flanks.

Franco di Santo will most likely partner Arouna Kone and Jordi Gomez up front for Wigan, according to HeapyLatic's match preview over at Pie Eaters Footie, after a lackluster display last week from Mauro Boselli. Ali al Habsi, Arsenal thwarter extraordinaire, will be between the posts.

Arsenal have no new injury news, and in fact, only Andre Santos, Abou Diaby, and Lukasz Fabianski are out for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger will have had his immediate necessity for rotation eased by the postponement of the Dec. 26th West Ham match, which means that Arsenal's next match isn't until the 29th, so it wouldn't be surprising in the least to see Arsenal's "strongest" lineup out there tomorrow:

Szczesny
Sagna--Mertesacker--Vermaelen--Gibbs
Wilshere--Arteta
Walcott--Cazorla--Podolski
Giroud

If Wenger does decide to use Walcott as the main striker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would slot in on the right.

We'll see you all bright and early tomorrow.

Match Prediction:


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