Christopher Chang on soccer

Soccer analysis and comment from Christopher Chang

Christopher Chang: Giant-killing Wigan scrambling to safety

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Wigan Athletic's Franco Di Santo celebrates after scoring a goal against Arsenal. Photo / AP
Wigan Athletic's Franco Di Santo celebrates after scoring a goal against Arsenal. Photo / AP

Wigan's unexpected 2-1 victory against Arsenal was the latest episode in their relentless climb out of relegation trouble. It was certainly no fluke - that result came hot on the heels of a dramatic 1-0 defeat of Manchester United, where Shaun Maloney's winner shocked the reigning champions.

They may have lost to Chelsea before that, but the Blues were the beneficiaries of two marginal offside calls that were never given. Prior to that, Roberto Martinez's men beat Stoke City 2-0, as well as earning a first win at Anfield against Liverpool.

Desperate circumstances can provoke the most unexpected of reactions, as Wigan's opponents are finding out.

For the majority of the season, the Latics have looked odds-on to go down. Let's be honest, for the past seven seasons they've looked like dropping out of the top flight. That was especially true when a nine-match losing run from September to November kept them firmly planted at the bottom of the table.

But, somehow they have again defied expectations. With four games left to play, they are now five points clear of the danger zone and enjoying a tasty sequence of results.

Club owner Dave Whelan seems to be one of those rarities in top flight football in that he doesn't interfere and trusts his manager's judgment. There must have been times this year when he looked at the league standings and questioned his decision to let Martinez pursue his own footballing philosophies.

Or maybe he knows better than anyone the capabilities of the manager and team. Surviving for another term would be just reward for Whelan's perseverance and patience.

Wigan could not score to save themselves, despite playing some aesthetically pleasing football. Now, consider this: they've scored in their last eight away games, the best current run of any team in the league.

They're not guaranteed survival yet, but it's reassuring to think that young talents like Victor Moses and James McCarthy could see more Premiership action next year. Wigan will need them if they're going to pull off another Houdini escape in 2012-13.

* Follow @ChrisChang_nz on Twitter

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