It was Penalty heartbreak for Uwe Rosler's side at Wembley where Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison's spot kicks were saved by Lukas Fabianski then Santi Cazorla sent the Arsenal fans into raptures after progressing to the FA Cup Final. Jordi Gomez gave the Latics' the lead from the spot just past the hour mark after Per Mertesacker brought down the lively Callum McManaman. Wigan had their sights on another FA Cup Final but 8 minutes from time after Scott Carson's goal lived a charmed life, a scuffed ball from Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was met by Mertesacker who drifted off to the back post only to head past Carson crushing the dreams of all Wigan fans of another trip to Wembley. Class eventually pulled through as Arsenal dispatched all 4 spot kicks despite the efforts of Carson to book their place in the Final with Hull City next month.
I like many others who witnessed the game on Saturday was thoroughly proud of Wigan Athletic making the journey home Saturday night, Uwe Rosler's side looked organised, well set up and tactically correct. Wigan started out well and looked to take the game to Arsenal despite an early chance from the poor excuse of a striker Yaya Sanogo. Wigan set up very rigid and looked to contain Arsenal with the likes of Oxlade Chamberlain and Ramsey looking every so dangerous. Callum McManaman looked very dangerous on the attack and caused Nacho Monreal all sorts of problems. I'm sure a sigh of relief was seen on Arsenal faces when his name was up which possibly was what caused Wigan's downfall.
Stephen Crainey had his best game in a Wigan shirt to date. The fullback was up against he lively pairing of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Bacary Sagna and he had the pair in his pocket all day long, Crainey was never caught ball watching and stopped the 2 linking together. I must give special praise Stephen Crainey. Jordi Gomez put in a special performance worth of praise, the Spaniard who I rate highly played incredibly maturely, linked the ball well and controlled our midfield he got stuck in well and dispatched his goal well considering he missed his last one against Bolton and waited a considerable amount of time before taking the one on Saturday. In general I thought everyone had a brilliant game on Saturday bar Jean Beausejour who was generally quiet but was put on the field to help Stephen Crainey out but on the whole didn't do a massive amount. Shaun Maloney not featuring didn't help, having the Scottish midfielder, Nick Powell and Callum McManaman in that 11 would have given the Arsenal back line all sorts of problems to think about.
The penalty shoot out was ultimately our downfall, the first kick sets the mood for the whole shoot out. Gary Caldwell was not your first taker but you have to admire his confidence to volunteer. A rusty centre half who isn't the most technical player in the world doesn't take your first kick. I'm a big believer in having your strongest first because you still need to be in the game if you have your strongest go last but you need the luck on your side.
On the positive side of things, Wigan Athletic put in a heroic performance and a great defense of the FA Cup. Uwe Rosler got it tactically right and all the players stepped up to the mark with Marc Antoine Fortune, Jordi Gomez, Stephen Crainey and James McArthur worthy of special praise. Everyone could tell it was our 55th game of the season and having played on Tuesday didn't help either, Wigan just ran out of steam and didn't have the fortune when it came from 12 yards. I am thoroughly proud of Wigan Athletic after Saturday to take Arsenal to penalties is no mean feat. Emmerson Boyce says we have "Unfinished business" at Wembley indicating he and the team hope to back there next month for the Play-Off Final.