Wigan Athleticâ€™s Ali Al Habsi celebrates his teamâ€™s second goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, March 24, 2012.
Omanian goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi has now led his Wigan club to two consecutive dream soccer victories in the English Premier League, as Wigan defeated top-four side Arsenal 2-1 as an encore for their shock 1-0 victory over perennial powerhouse Manchester United the previous week. Even more surprisingly, Wiganâ€™s victory over Arsenal came in the Gunnersâ€™ home stadium, the Emirates Stadium. Wigan has now won four of their last five Premiership matches, and they now have a five point buffer from being relegated to the lower division.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger later accused Al Habsi of time-wasting, saying he was guilty of â€œdisrespecting people who pay big money to watch the gameâ€. But the Omanian keeper insisted: â€œWhen I play football I do not cheat. I used a tactic to control and contain the game. Itâ€™s normal when you play in big-pressure matches to control the game to take the pressure off your team. Itâ€™s very important for me as a goalkeeper and my team-mates in defence to do this in order to help our side. The ref is there to see everything and if heâ€™s happy then so am I. I have to do it for my team.â€
Referee Andre Marriner did ultimately book Al-Habsi with a yellow card during injury time. But the booking cannot take anything away from the enormous accomplishment of defeating Manchester United and Arsenal in the same week.