Are you watching Tottenham? The Arsenal support could afford to gloat in the closing stages of this firecracker, which ended with Wigan Athletic being burnt, and they surely knew the answer. Everyone was watching, it was utterly pulsating and now Arsenal and, indeed, Tottenham Hotspur, know the drill for the final round of Premier League fixtures on Sunday.

Arsenal are back in the box seat for the final Champions League place, the only thing left to fight for in England's top division after Wigan were finally pressed into the third relegation spot, and Arsène Wenger will demand one last push. Win at Newcastle United and Tottenham's result at home to Sunderland will be rendered academic. Arsenal can almost touch their 16th consecutive qualification, although nothing is remotely settled.

This scoreline suggested a rout but it was nothing of the sort, with Wigan recovering from a slow start to equalise and go close to taking the lead through Arouna Kone in the second-half, which would have ratcheted up Arsenal nerves to fever pitch. But, inspired by Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott, Wenger's players drew the sting and took Wigan apart with a flurry of three goals in eight minutes. There was brutal symmetry with the end of Wigan's eight-year top-flight association.

From the high of Saturday's FA Cup triumph over Manchester City, Wigan tasted the most bitter of lows and the tears welled at full-time in the eyes of their players and supporters. Wigan will be missed for the enterprise of their football and one of the big post-match talking points concerned whether Roberto Martínez would depart, too. The manager has been touted as David Moyes' successor at Everton. He refused to address the notion.

It was an occasion when only victory would suffice for each club and it was one when anxiety ran riot through the stadium, certainly until Walcott's 21st goal of a stellar season deflated Wigan. Arsenal piled on the misery thereafter but it has become their way to dice with disaster and they followed the script on a rain-lashed night here.

For the first part of the first-half, they were rampant. Lukas Podolski was granted the freedom of the Wigan penalty area to head home Cazorla's corner and there were other flickers from Arsenal. But by the interval, it was possible to wonder whether we were watching the same team.

Wigan grew into the game, particularly Shaun Maloney, who began to run into spaces and get his head up in dangerous areas. Arsenal stuttered creatively and so the crowd got the wobbles and the destabilising transfer from fan to player played out.

Although Laurent Koscielny bundled a good chance wide from another Cazorla corner, Wigan sensed opportunity and they took it when the quicksilver Maloney won his second free-kick from Mikel Arteta on the edge of the area. The home support took out their anger on the referee Mike Dean and it intensified when Maloney, following that straight-on, stuttering run, bent the ball brilliantly beyond Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsenal rarely win when Dean takes charge and there were plenty of people in the stands muttering darkly about conspiracy. But the home team's anxiety was not down to him, rather their struggles to get close to Wigan and knock them from their stride. Wenger admitted at the beginning of the second-half that "there were a few times when we were on the brink of conceding," and the big chance fell to Kone. After smart link-up between Roger Espinoza and Callum McManaman, Kone was confronted by Szczesny only for the goalkeeper to block at close quarters.

Back came Arsenal. Cazorla drew a wonderful double save out of Joel Robles; Podolski headed at the goalkeeper and Walcott was denied by him at the near post. It was exhausting simply to watch; a heady fusion of emotion and excitement.

Arsenal needed something to show from the patch of purple and they got it. First, the magnificent Cazorla crossed for Walcott to bundle home and then, following a high ball and a loss of Wigan defensive bearings, Cazorla prodded through for Podolski to chip Robles. Wigan were beaten, their shoulders slumping in the same direction as their prospects, and Aaron Ramsey salted the wound with a finish from a tight angle. For the fourth time, Cazorla had provided the final pass.

Arsenal marked their final home game with a post-match lap of appreciation. Shirts went into the crowd and there was appreciation for Wenger, in particular. They will only be feted, though, with the right result at Newcastle. Further drama will come as standard.