February 28, 2012
Wigan Athletic's second 0-0 of the season, in what was probably the most predictable result on the fixture list, seems to be sparking far more debate than the rather more colourful affairs we've graced. Was this a missed opportunity after another frustrating display of poor attacking play, or should we be grateful for the point, the clean sheet and move on?
The match itself was not one for the neutral. Latics controlled possession, passing commendably despite a torn up pitch (thanks rugby), but didn't create anything of note. Villa waited patiently, breaking dangerously through Robbie Keane and Darren Bent, but found Al-Habsi at his best. Jean Beausejour's contribution down the left has resulted in an increased volume of crosses, but there remains no one with the striking instincts, or heading ability, to meet them. Wigan logged 14 corners without coming close to scoring from them. Is Lee McCulloch available?
February 16, 2012
As Latics supporters, we're used to being written off before a ball is kicked. Wigan will finally go down this year, we're told every year. Yet somehow this fantastic little club clings to its Premier League status again and again - we've become survival specialists. It was no mean feat under Paul Jewell, an enthusiasm-fueled season like Norwich are enjoying at the moment. Or under Steve Bruce, when he totally revived a team of strugglers and misfits. But in the Martinez era, it has been achieved on half the budget, allowing the club to allocate funds toward youth development and long-term sustainability.
Indeed the worst case scenario, that of relegation, is a lot less worrying than it was three years ago. The squad is deep and young, with few big name players on heavy wage packets. Latics would probably lose three or four quality players - Rodallega, Diame, Moses, and perhaps James McCarthy - but would still have a very competent side capable of winning the Championship. As evidence, Callum McManaman, who can't buy playing time with the current squad, starred during his loan stint at Blackpool, who are 4th in said league. Nouha Dicko, yet to feature for the first team at Wigan, scored on his debut for the Seasiders several days ago. Jordi Gomez was far and away voted the best player in the Championship last time he played in it.
All this said, incredibly - despite a cruel fixture list featuring the newly promoted teams in days 1, 2 and 3; a stretch of back-to-back games over Christmas against big four opposition; an 8-match losing steak; a (separate) 9-match winless streak - we're not down yet.
February 15, 2012
Wigan Athletic took a giant step towards revival (and survival?) with a 2-1 success over Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. A loss would have cut Latics eight points adrift and delivered a probably fatal blow to the side’s morale. Instead, the gap between the bottom five has been narrowed to an encouraging two points. Better still, the squad has a tasty fixture list coming up including three home fixtures against Aston Villa, Swansea and West Brom, with a trip to Norwich in between. Without getting ahead of ourselves, things are suddenly looking up at the DW.
Martinez’s men started slowly but started to take control of the match about 20 minutes in. Franco Di Santo, working hard up front with little service, received the ball deep and weaved before fizzing a powerful attempt just over and wide. Victor Moses embarked on a mazy trademark run, crashing a left-footed effort into the side netting (a trademark finish). Bolton’s approaches were largely limited to set pieces and hopeful shooting from outside the box, while Latics enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession. Pressure finally told when Gary Caldwell impressively beat David Wheater — who must have at least 5 inches on the Scot — in the air to power home a Jean Beausejour corner late in the first half. 1-0 Wigan at half-time.