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May 14, 2013

Wigan relegated with Arsenal thrashing

Wigan Athletic were relegated to the Championship on Tuesday night after suffering a 4-1 thrashing at Arsenal which sent the Gunners back above Spurs into fourth in the table.

The Premier League stay for Wigan comes to an end after eight years, and from lifting the FA Cup on Saturday now face the task of trying to get back into the top flight - and face a fight to keep hold of manager Roberto Martinez. It is the first time the winners of the FA Cup have ever been relegated in the same season. Aston Villa, Sunderland, Fulham and Southampton's safety has been confirmed as well.

Arsenal are a point ahead of bitter North London rivals Tottenham as the race for the final Champions League spot spices up. Spurs had put the pressure on Arsenal on Sunday with a late victory at Stoke, and now they are relying on the Gunners to slip up at Newcastle on the final day of the season if they are to stand any chance of playing in Europe's elite club competition next season.

Podolski was on hand to give Arsenal the lead in the 11th minute as the unmarked German headed into the back of the net from a corner from a few yards out.

Laurent Koscielny denied Arouna Kone the opportunity to equalise when the France international stretched to the maximum to get a foot onto a looped ball over the Arsenal defence. However, he and his team-mates could only stand and stare a minute before the break as Maloney fired in a free-kick to get Wigan back on level terms.

It was similar to the one he struck in West London against Queens Park Rangers, but Arsenal will no doubt have felt the decision to award the free-kick was a soft one when Arteta was penalised for a challenge on Maloney.

With the bit between their teeth, Wigan were full of confidence and nearly went in front three minutes into the second half, as Kone played a neat one-two with Callum McManaman and was denied by Wojciech Szczesny.

Down the other end, Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles pulled off a fine double save to keep Santi Cazorla out before Tomas Rosicky flashed a half volley narrowly wide of the target.

Arsenal retook the lead past the hour mark, and it was Walcott with the goal as the England international used his pace down the middle to get onto the end of Cazorla's whipped cross from the right.

Moments later the Wigan defence - in particular Paul Scharner - fell to pieces as Podolski lifted the ball over Robles from Cazorla's headed assist.

The Arsenal goal barrage continued as Aaron Ramsey got in on the act, neatly beating Robles at his near post when he received the ball from the left touchline.

In the night's other encounter, Manchester City collected a 2-0 win away to relegated Reading in their first outing without manager Roberto Mancini and his assistant David Platt.

City under the guidance of Brian Kidd defeated Reading at the Madejski Stadium on a day assistant manager Platt followed Mancini through the exit door at The Etihad.

Sergio Aguero struck five minutes before half-time, with the Argentine steering his shot into the bottom corner after some neat football from James Milner and David Silva.

Edin Dzeko made the points safe as the Bosnian appeared from the bench to double City's lead in the 88th minute. Reading were guilty of losing the ball in their own half, and Silva picked out Dzeko to enable the striker to cut inside Stephen Kelly and slot the ball beyond Alex McCarthy in the Royals goal.

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