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Wenger sympathises with Martinez as Arsenal chase Champions League place

Arsene Wenger sees something of his younger self in Roberto Martinez and said it would be "sad" if Wigan Athletic are relegated, as they surely will be if they do not beat Arsenal tonight.

Arsenal and Wigan are both desperate for victory at the Emirates for very different reasons.

A draw would give Tottenham Hotspur the advantage over the Gunners in the race for fourth while also leaving Wigan needing a goal-difference miracle to stay up.

But having kept lowly Wigan in the Premier League for so long, and having won the FA Cup on Saturday, the 39-year-old Martinez has earned the admiration of the Arsenal manager. When asked whether he saw similarities with a young Wenger, the Frenchman agreed. "I don't remember – it is a long time ago – but the dedication, certainly yes."

Like Wenger, Martinez has based his approach around a commitment to attractive football and imaginative scouting. "Martinez has a positive philosophy. Above all, what you want is that he tries to play good football," added Wenger, who predicted he could go much further in the game. "That for me, is a good basis to go forward and move higher up. He looks to master the situations well."

After outplaying Manchester City to win the FA Cup final through Ben Watson's late goal on Saturday, Wigan will give Arsenal a real test tonight. Wenger said: "The level of energy they have shown on Saturday is absolutely huge, the transitional play is fantastic, the speed from defence they've shown on Saturday was fantastic.

"It is a surprise that they are in the position that they are in because they have produced a remarkable game on Saturday and they played remarkably well on both flanks.

"They defended very well and they kept Man City very quiet for a big part of the game." Wenger acknowledged that Wigan's unpredictability could make for a difficult evening for his side.

"They have quality and they played a remarkable game," he said. "We want to be at our best in a game of that importance.

"Two months ago our destiny was not in our hands. Today it is, so now let's finish the job and continue to play like we have been doing and take the points."(© Independent News Service)

Arsenal v Wigan Athletic, Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent