Roberto Martinez challenged Wigan not to make their famous victories over Manchester United and Arsenal count for nothing by failing to stay in the Premier League.
The Latics had beaten leaders United last week to build on their win at Liverpool and were unfortunate not to get something from Chelsea following controversial decisions.
However, there was no injustice at Emirates Stadium last night as Franco Di Santo fired the visitors ahead on the break after seven minutes, before Jordi Gomez doubled their lead inside 90 seconds.
Thomas Vermaelen reduced the deficit with a bullet header on 21 minutes, but the second-half onslaught from the shellshocked Gunners never came as the Latics moved five points clear of the relegation zone with a well-deserved 2-1 win.
It was a fourth victory in five games for Wigan, who have now lost just twice in 11 league matches.
With games against Fulham and Newcastle ahead of their final two matches versus struggling Blackburn and Wolves, Martinez knows his side's fate is now very much in their own hands following an extraordinary turnaround.
"I always said we would click as a team at the beginning of February, and we had been playing really well but could not win games, which left us a bit frustrated with draws," Martinez said.
"But we have been patient and been able to be stubborn with what we wanted to do and get the results. However, we can't really enjoy it because moments like this will mean nothing if we don't get enough points to stay up."
The Spaniard added: "We always had a mental block against top sides, but we got rid of that at Liverpool and have then felt we can compete against anyone.
"We were very good against Chelsea and deserved a positive result, but it was not a good day in terms of decisions - but nobody can argue we did not deserve the points against Manchester United and Arsenal."
The Gunners had won nine of the past 10 league games and could have tightened their grip on third place with another victory.
However, manager boss Arsene Wenger slammed his side's "horrendous" defending and also was left frustrated they could not replace Mikel Arteta quick enough when the midfielder hobbled off with an ankle injury which probably rules him out of next week's clash with Chelsea.
"After that we had a mountain to climb. I felt in the first half we had enough chances to come back to 2-2, but the second half we dropped our level, we lost our team play, our cohesion and tried too much individually. There was not enough petrol left in the tank anymore," he said. "We didn't see anyone who could make a difference."
Wenger added: "Chelsea is a massive and vital game for us. We need to recover from the massive disappointment of tonight first, then prepare mentally for the next one."
The Gunners boss was, however, less than impressed with Wigan's consistent time wasting - notably from goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. He added: "It is disrespectful to people who pay big money to watch the game."