Back down to Earth: Roberto Martinez distraught as Wigan Athletic relegated after near decade in Premier League

By Matt Simpson

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez was left distraught as his side were finally relegated from the Premier League after Arsenal convincingly won at the Emirates Stadium.

Shaun Maloney gave Wigan hope, equalising after Lukas Podolski put the Gunners ahead, before goals from Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and another from the German condemned them to the Championship.

And Martinez, who has overseen several ‘great escapes’, said it was a difficult day for the club and believes the result still came as a shock.

“It’s a tough day for the football club,” he told BBC Sport.

“We had an incredible eight years in the Premier League and we need to build for the future.

“I never expected this. I know we were in a difficult position, but the players are an incredible bunch and they don’t deserve this.”

Arsenal – still vying for Champions League football – started brightly and took the lead after 11 minutes when Podolski beat his man to head in Santi Cazorla’s corner.

After the goal, the Latics played their way into the match and duly restored parity when set-piece specialist Maloney curled in a delightful free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Wigan began the second-half with renewed purpose, but were undone again by poor defending on 63 minutes when Walcott pounced to convert Cazorla’s low cross.

Just five minutes later, the match was effectively over as Podolski beat the offside trap to lob keeper Joel Robles and score his second of the night.

The rout was completed with 19 minutes remaining when Arsenal captain Ramsey squeezed the ball home from a tight angle to ensure Wigan’s FA Cup joy was all but forgotten.

Martinez – hot favourite to take over at Everton in the summer – praised his side’s attacking displays, but said relegation was ultimately down to poor defending.

“You look at the stats and they tell you we conceded far too many goals,” he explained.

“Going forward we were magnificent but the number of injuries we’ve had in the back line is something I’ve never seen before.

“You keep making chances at the back and you suffer. We gave points away and that’s why we are where we are.”

And the Spanish boss revealed winning the FA Cup had given his side new confidence and that despite their relegation, the club is still in a healthy position.

“The FA Cup gave us a bit of hope of finishing the season on a high,” he said. “It gave us a different sense of confidence.

“It’s great to win the FA Cup. It’s an achievement that will live forever. There have been many great things over the last few years.

“The relegation is something we can rectify. The club is on a fantastic financial footing and we are stronger than ever.

“It’s important we make our fans really proud – they supported us like they always do.”

Image courtesy of BBC Sport via YouTube, with thanks.

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