January 28, 2012
An hour before any Wigan Athletic game is due to start I like to trawl along to the official club website and look for news of the team line-up. I did it last weekend and got an immediate sense of foreboding. Gohouri in for Alcaraz and only one winger in the line-up. A return to playing Jordi Gomez on the right wing? A question of pack your team with midfield players to stifle the opposition? Then maybe bring on another attack minded player later? Was this to be the way to get a good result against another struggling team?
• This post was contributed by Jakarta Jack, of Los Three Amigos of Wigan.
My sense of foreboding was to be temporarily lifted in the first few minutes with Latics going close to scoring on a couple of occasions. However, this was to be only a temporary respite. Wigan were playing without any attacking player on the right. Gomez would track back to help Boyce when the opposition attacked on their left, then move back to a central midfield position to receive the ball. As the half progressed a nervy QPR started to get on top. Their nerves were calmed after 32 minutes when James McCarthy idiotically palmed the ball away from a Barton corner. Helguson scored the resulting penalty with ease. The situation was exacerbated in the 45th minute when Gohouri ‘s trip on Campbell gave Buzsaky the chance to curl a wonderful free kick in off the post.
January 14, 2012
*contributed by Jakarta Jack, whose writing regularly graces Los Three Amigos of Wigan.
Wigan Athletic have enjoyed some unforgettable moments in the FA Cup. My fondest memory remains a trip to Maine Road to play European Cup Winners Cup holders Manchester City, in January 1971. A fine Man City footballing team full of household names like Bell, Summerbee, and Young, playing against non-league Wigan. There were more than 45,000 people there that day, estimates of 20,000 of them traveling from Wigan. Those were the days of Geoff Davies as Latics’ centre forward. Signed from Northwich for £800, Geoff scored five hat tricks in his first three months, ending up with 42 goals for the season. Latics were unlucky to be losing 1-0 to a Colin Bell goal after 83 minutes following a bad goal kick from their admirable goalkeeper, Dennis Reeves. He had split his boot but apparently did not want to lose his concentration by stopping the play. You can see it here. In the last minute, Geoff Davies had a superb header pawed onto the post by the excellent Joe Corrigan. An unlucky ending for Gordon Milne’s Latics team whose performance brought great pride to its supporters.
January 6, 2012
Judging by his post-match comments earlier this week, Roberto is ready to give his first team a good week and a half of rest and relaxation. They did, after all, face the traditional top four in back-to-back matches, the most physical team in the Premier League away, and Sunderland in heavy rain and swirling winds. Two of those were played with 10 men, and at least one against 12, it could be argued.
All of which means we are likely to see a few of the younger players in the squad, and a few older faces that have been on the fringe of the squad this season. Here are some of the lads I’ll be looking out for tomorrow:
Callum McManaman: the 20-year-old is fresh from a successful loan spell at Blackpool, who judging by fan forums were sad to lose him. He scored a couple goals and looked quite confident. Scored for Latics almost exactly a year ago in last season’s FA Cup 3rd round, so he’ll be hoping to repeat the feat. It was cracker (40 secs in).
January 4, 2012
We felt in our match preview that this was a tough time to play Sunderland, a revitalized side brimming with confidence after claiming Manchester City's scalp at the weekend. Rarely will you see two strikes as sublime as those of Craig Gardner and David Vaughan in the same 90 minutes, and indeed it seemed everything went Sunderland's way. But the scoreline, and headlines in most of Wednesday's publications, paint a very false picture of a match Wigan had the better of, and should have put to bed before crucial decisions turned it upside down.
The first half was all Wigan - almost. Roberto turned a few heads with his stating lineup, resting the key duo of Victor Moses and Mohammed Diame; Albert Crusat and Ben Watson starting in their stead. The 3-4-2-1 formation that has yielded Latics best results this season was left intact. Steve Gohouri took Gary Caldwell's position at the centre of the back three, while Dave Jones and Ronnie Stam continued as advanced wing-backs, protected by the mostly defensive central midfield pairing of James McCarthy and Ben Watson. Ahead of them, Crusat started inside left, Jordi inside right, and Rodallega up top - though such is the fluidity of this system that Jordi's was more of a free-role, popping up left, right and center, with Ronnie Stam constantly overlapping him on the right wing.
January 3, 2012
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about having to face a team at an unfortunate time.
But since our boys — with a little help from Wes Brown — got Steve Bruce sacked in late November, Martin O’Neill has predictably turned things around quite dramatically at Sunderland. In his first game in charge, the Black Cats scored a last minute winner to topple Blackburn. They fought bravely but lost 1-0 at Spurs, then beat Queen’s Park Rangers 3-2 In London, drew at home with in-form Everton, and most recently shocked everyone by not only beating but keeping a clean sheet against league leading Manchester City. Not a bad start.
Having found ourselves internet-less during the festive period, we look back on two of the best performances of the season, and another the standard treatment from an intimidated referee at Old Trafford. Overall, a pleasing festive period during which Roberto’s team has started to show its real potential.
Wigan Athletic 1 Chelsea 1
The home side were more than a match for Chelsea, who had strung several wins together before this fixture. Daniel Sturridge scored a beautifully taken goal early in the second half against the run of play, but Latics persistence paid off when Petr Cech fumbled Rodallega’s shot straight to Jordi Gomez for the equalizer.
The entire performance, but special mention to the tackling in midfield, defensive solidity, and Jordi for being in the right place at the right time at the end of a very tiring match.
Shame it couldn’t have been three points.
Ali Al-Habsi: 7; Antolin Alcaraz: 8.5; Gary Caldwell: 8; Maynor Figueroa: 8; Ronnie Stam: 7; Dave Jones: 7; James McCarthy: 8.8; Mo Diame: 7; Jordi Gomez: 7; Victor Moses: 8; Conor Sammon: 6
* contributed by Jakarta Jack of Los Three Amigos Wigan
Ben Watson made a welcome reappearance off the bench to salvage a well deserved point for Latics. A 10 man Latics team were trailing 2-1 when Hugo Rodallega was pulled down in the penalty box. The usual penalty taker, Jordi Gomez, had already been substituted so Martinez had a tough decision to make. It turned out to be an inspired decision, Watson hitting home the penalty with aplomb after being pulled off the bench to take it.
As expected Latics had to withstand the usual aerial bombardment from Stoke with multiple long throws form Rory Delap, although the wing backs did well in keeping in check the dangerous wingers, Pennant and Etherington. The stats tell us that Stoke only had two shots on target the whole game, whereas Wigan had six. Moreover Ali Al Habsi did not have a direct shot to save whereas Stoke’s Sorensen had four, although Wigan had a slice of luck in the 60th minute when a header from Huth hit the post and fell into Al Habsi’s welcoming arms. In between the aerial bombardment we saw the usual ruthless tackling from Stoke, with Latics getting minimal protection from the referee. Victor Moses in particularly was heavily marked.