It was a line-up which turned many heads. James McCarthy was fit to start, and meant he could return to the midfield, but who was playing in defence? Well was far as anyone can tell we had four across the back. Martinez had some very unorthodox tactics for this one, with the midfield a string of players playing in unknown roles.
Our width came from our wing-backs, and then two of the midfielders (we played with three) would push on, leaving one midfielder to sit in front of the two full backs. The attackers shaped up very narrow, neither Shaun Maloney (on the left) or Franco Di Santo (on the right), were playing as attacking wide men. It was an interesting formation and it is what proved the difference.
Arsenal couldn't find away through the middle of pitch. If one of their players got the ball, automatically three of our players would then close him down. Then when we had the ball, there were plent of options for the man on the ball top lay it off to. All in all it worked rather well and got us onto of Arsenal's very strong midfield.
That said they were having plenty of joy down the wings. With only one wide man, and he having to run forward and backwards, tired legs were costing us some defensive shape. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski both had yards of space to run into in their respective wings. Lucky for Wigan neither player managed to overly exploit such areas. Oxlade-Chamberlain was doing his best though, Jean Beasejour couldn't keep up with the teenager, who forced Ali Al Habsi into a couple of good first half saves.
At the other end Wigan couldn't force the issue enough. Too much possession could be the culprit, but again both wing-backs were at fault as they failed to cross the ball in effectively to the box and allow our attackers to get on the end of it.
Then 25 minutes in, the best chance of the first half, and it fell for a Wigan man. Franco Di Santo picking the ball up on the right hand side of the Wigan midfield, wriggled his way free of three Arsenal players, before dispatching a beautiful ball with the outside of his right foot for Arouna Kone to run onto. Kone and the defence beaten for pace, all he had to do was slot it past the keeper. He veered it wide and out for a goal kicking, agonizingly close.
It was the best chance for the half for either team, and Latics went in at the break happy in their first half performance. That would not last, but we would have chances ourselves to get something from the game before Arsenal would take the lead in the second half.
Wigan again, closing quickly and hitting Arsenal fast on the counter. They couldn't deal with it, I just wish we had a better end product as we wasted the chances to get in front. Arsenal though were now starting to see more of the ball albeit it right in front of our back four, it really wasn't going anywhere.
But then the penalty came. The ball lose down the left hand side of the box, and a quick one-two between Santo Cazorla and Theo Walcott, neither of whom had decided to take part in the action until now, saw Walcott go through one on one with Beasejour. The Chilean was beaten, thanks to Theo's pace but instead of going onto wards the goal the winger goes down, and the referee points for a less the solid penalty. The resulting kick was convereted by Miicheal Arteta who sent Al Habsi the wrong way.
Injustice seethed through the ground. We were the better team, we were playing the better football and we should be winning. Not a bunch of diving player who have tricked the referee into giving them a penalty.
So Wigan huffed and puffed. But we couldn't blow the Arsenal door down, we came so so close though. David Jones, Shaun Maloney, James McArthur and Arouna Kone all had chances that could have won the game for Latics, all of them went wide or were saved by the keeper.
Then the referee decided to invent the sin bin law in football. Mr Moss deciding it wasn't harsh enough to give us a soft penalty decided that Franco Di Santo had to go off the pitch and remain off till the ball went out of play three minutes later. The reason? He had an earring in, which was immediately removed, but this was not good enough for referee Moss. He obviously use to officiate rugby matches, and got confused when coming to Wigan.
That said, it wasn't the referee's fault that we didn't win this one, we were by far the better side, and we by far had the better chances. If we can't take the chances then that is our own fault. Yet the performance has to be one to lift us now, if we can play that like that in the next three festive fixtures then we can surly pick up some points!