Arsenal will face Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, April 12 (9:07 AM Pacific; 17:07 PM London time), in the FA Cup semifinal. The Gunners will give everything they have to win this match, since the FA Cup is the only tournament that they can really hope to win this campaign.
On the other hand, Wigan Athletic are the defending champions and they want to continue making history winning their second consecutive Cup. The winner will play the final against Hull City or Sheffield United on May 17 at Wembley.
Arsenal’s Priority Is To Win FA Cup
After being eliminated from the Champions League, apart from two draws and a loss in their past three Premier League games, Arsenal is in 4th place with 10 points behind Liverpool. Considering the season is nearing its end, the Gunners have practically zero to no chance at winning the EPL.
Moreover, their qualification to the next Champions League is in danger, since they should keep the fourth position and Everton is one point behind them with one postponed match. Because of this, they need to win the FA Cup if they don’t want this season to be a complete failure.
In order to play the semifinals, Arsenal beat three Premier League good teams like Tottenham, Liverpool, and Everton, plus Coventry City, a third division team.
For this match the Gunners’ squad has a lot of unavailable players due to injuries. In defense, Laurent Koscielny (calf) is out and Kieran Gibbs (ankle) in doubt, while in the midfield Abou Diaby (knee) and Mesut Özil (hamstring) are out and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Tomas Rosicki (thigh) are doubtful.
In Wenger’s words, speaking about Gibbs, Chamberlain and Rosicki: “There will be last-minute decisions on those three players. They are all 50:50.”
Furthermore, midfielder Mathieu Flamini won’t play because he’s saw his tenth yellow card against Everton and is suspended for the next two games.
Wigan Will Look To Reach Their Second Straight FA Cup Final
On the other hand, Wigan Athletic are in the fifth place of the Football League Championship -English second division-. If they keep that position they would play the Championship play-offs with other three teams that will be fighting for one place in the next Premier League.
They’re far from the second place (that gives the direct promotion to Premier League) and also from the seventh, so it’s very improbable that they don’t qualify for the play-offs.
In their last match, Wigan surprisingly lost playing at home against Milwall, a weak team that is on the relegation zone to the third division.
The Latics want to repeat the most important success of their history winning the FA Cup again, like they did last year when they defeated Manchester City in the final. In this edition of the tournament they also beat the Citizens -one of the best English team nowadays- in quarter finals, playing on the road.
In the previous FA Cup rounds, Wigan defeated other two Premier League teams, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace, and Milton Keynes Dons from the third division. Curiously, the only clash they needed a second game due to a tie in the first one was against the Dons, and they also tied in the second match ninety minutes and finally won the game 3-1 in overtime.
Martyn Waghorn (striker), Ryan Tunnicliffe (midfielder) and Rob Kiernan (defender) can’t play against the Gunners because they already played in this FA Cup for other teams. In addition, midfielders Chris McCann (broken leg), Benjamin Watson (fractured knee cap) and Roger Espinoza (hernia surgery) won’t be available for Saturday match. Both McCann and Watson are ruled out for the rest of the season, while Espinoza should return in May.
The boss, Uwe Rosler, spoke about Arsenal and the fact that they don’t come in a good moment: “In many ways Arsenal’s defeat at Everton last Sunday didn’t help us because it puts even more pressure on Arsenal to absolutely go for it and to win a trophy this year with their Champions League place under threat.”
Arsenal vs Wigan Prediction
I think this game will be a tough one for both teams, since they both will give everything to reach the final. The Gunners’ injuries, specially in defense and and the fact that they’re not in a good mood, will tip the scales in Wigan favor.
Besides, the Latics are the defending champions and they defeated Manchester City in the quarter-finals. That will give them a lot of confidence and they won’t fear facing a top Premier League team such as Arsenal. My prediction is a 2-1 victory for Wigan Athletic.
Arsenal vs Wigan TV Schedule
The Arsenal vs Wigan FA Cup semifinal will be televised on FOX Deportes and FOX Sports 2 (USA) at 9:07 AM Pacific. For all other regions check LiveSoccerTV.