Arsenal picked up their first away win of the season in the Premiership with a deserved 3-2 victory at Wigan on Saturday.
Arsène Wenger's side were always ahead in a high-tempo affair at the JJB Stadium but, at the same time, were rarely comfortable against Paul Jewell's battlers.
An error by Wigan keeper John Filan allowed Robin van Persie to fire the visitors ahead in the 11th minute. Henry then added another to give Arsenal a cushion but Henri Camara's close-range header reduced the arrears.
Henry fired in a superb free-kick four minutes before the break to restore the two-goal advantage. But, on the stroke of half time, Jimmy Bullard crashed home Wigan's second.
The second half continued to be a blood-and-thunder affair, full of chances. Incredibly we did not get another goal.
Still, this was Arsenal's sixth win in their last seven games and continued their recent climb of the Premiership table.
A pleasing statistic from a very pleasing game.
The biggest question before kick-off centred around the left back position. Gael Clichy had been covered the absence of Ashley Cole for the past six games. However during the international break the Frenchman had the suffered same fate as his injured counterpart, a broken bone in his foot. Cole will out until Christmas, Clichy will be sidelined for three to four months.
Wenger had said today's left back would be a choice between Kolo Toure and Pascal Cygan. The mystery was drawn out until kick-off as both were named in the starting line-up. However it was the Frenchman who stationed on the flank.
Freddie Ljungberg returned for his first appearance since hobbling off with a hamstring at Tottenham on October 29. Jose Antonio Reyes dropped to the bench.
You could argue Wigan were the favourites to win this lunchtime kick-off. Jewell's side had won their last eight games in all competitions. Arsenal's form was not shabby however. They had won five and drawn one since their last defeat which, like the other two this season, had come directly after an international break.
The home side started with confidence. Had Lee McCulloch not slashed at a cross from six yard they would have taken the lead as early as the fourth minute. Wigan continued to look the more lively side until Arsenal broke the deadlock in the 11th minute.
Van Persie collected a short pass from Sol Campbell in midfield and superbly spun away from Arjan de Zeeuw. He still had a lot to do but, ignoring the obvious option of Freddie Ljungberg on the left flank, he tried his luck from 25 yards. Incredibly, the drive went through Filan. It was a bad, bad error from the former Blackburn keeper.
Two minutes later the lead was nearly doubled. Henry and Pires combined on the right and Van Persie swivelled at the near post before hooking a trickling shot inches wide.
Arsenal had found their swagger. In the 21st minute, Fabregas slid a pass into the path of Thierry Henry and the Frenchman neatly tucked away his shot past Filan and into the far corner. The visitors were on control.
However Wigan have not climbed to such an exalted position without some grit. They hauled themselves back into the game just before the half hour when Leighton Baines sent over a free-kick, De Zueew nodded down and Camara appeared between two defenders to send a stooping header past Lehmann from close range.
Wigan went for the jugular. Roberts raced clear and flicked the ball past Lehmann but a combination of Campbell and Toure cleared the danger.
The home side were continuing to pour forward. Only a classic Henry free-kick could stop the home side in their tracks. Bullard fouled Cygan nearly 30 yards out and the top scorer sent a low curling free-kick in to the net off the post.
Again Arsenal seemed to have control. Again Wigan came back. Four seconds before the 45 minutes were up, Bullard broke free on the right, cut inside deftly and thumped a firm drive past Lehmann and into the corner.
Wigan continued to push forward after the break. However Arsenal had the early chances. Van Persie robbed a dallying Chimbonda in the area but his overhead kick went unconverted in the six-yard area.
Then Henry broke clear and fed the Dutchman in space on the edge of the area with only Filan to beat. It was a great chance but hesitation cost him dear and De Zueew stole the ball from Van Persie's feet.
Campbell went close from a corner then, in the 65th minute, Henry's backheel sent Fabregas clear but the Spaniard hacked over from the edge of the area.
Arsenal seemed much more likely to score but, once more, Wigan rolled up their sleeves.
Roberts almost wriggled clear only for Lehmann to smother the ball then, eight minutes from time, the former West Brom striker crossed low from the left and McCulloch just failed to convert.
The home side continued the flood forward until the end but the Arsenal defence, superbly marshalled by Campbell, deservedly held on.
- Cygan Yellow Card
- Toure Yellow Card
- Fabregas 90
- Pires 75
- Henry Goal! Goal!
- van Persie 75 Goal!
- Senderos 90
- Flamini 75
- Bergkamp 75
- De Zeeuw Yellow Card
- Francis 78
- Bullard Goal!
- Camara Goal!
- Kavanagh Yellow Card
- Roberts Yellow Card
- Taylor 78