This was as comfortable and a comprehensive win as you could ask for
from a side struggling for form and with a new manager.
Admittedly, it was against a team who lack a manager themselves and were
on a run of six straight losses, but it was still a good performance, as
well as a good win by Tottenham, as they rattled for past Chris Kirkland
in the Wigan goal, which could have been a lot more.
Had the Athletic keeper not touched
Berbatov's late drive onto the post and Kaboul not shaken the woodwork
with the follow up, the score could have been worse for the troubled
club from the North-West.
In truth, the Wigan side looked a sorry
shambles and in our lowly position, it was a confidence boost to the
players to be able to dominate this game with only one shot coming in
for Paul Robinson to have to save, but this should not be construed as a
corner being turned. Instead, it should be a benchmark as the
lowest level of performance that should be deemed acceptable and one
which will need to be reproduced to even live with some of the teams at
the top of the table.
Along with Derby, Wigan looked the
poorest side to have visited White Hart Lane this season so far.
Even though Tottenham have not been picking up many points this term, we
have at least been creating chances and that was something you could not
accuse the Lactics of. In a match where Spurs dominated possession
53.5 to 46.5, the tempo was mainly a fast one and it was the skilful one
touch passing which opened Wigan up, rather than the laboured slow build
up which Spurs have featured in the recent past.
An early shot from Aaron Lennon brought a
save from Kirkland, when Keane had inadvertently laid the ball back into
his path, but the Wigan goalie did not gather the ball cleanly, even
though our winger's shot was not that hard. The next time the ball
came in, Kirkland was picking it out of the net. In the thirteenth
minute, Keane got the ball on the left wing and tight to the dead ball
line, he played the bal lone side of Granqvist and ran the other, when
there seemed no room to do so, then produced a low ball across the near
post, which Kirkland could not get to, leaving Jermaine Jenas on the
goal-line with the simple task of forcing the ball over the line.
A baby rocking goal celebration indicated that the midfielder must have
become a father recently, but it was goal joy that he was celebrating
The fragility of the Tottenham defence at
set-pieces was once more exposed when Kilbane put a free-kick in and
Scharner rose to head on to Marcus Bent, who put it wide when well
placed. both Keane and Berbatov struck shots over the bar from 25
yards out before goal number two arrived.
With 26 minutes gone, Dimitar played a
perceptive pass through the middle of the Wigan defence from the centre
circle. Unfortunately, Keane, who he played it to was running back
from an offside position. However, Jenas carried on his run on the
left side to chase the ball down. Making the ground before any
Wigan defender reacted, he took the ball into the area, went round Chris
Kirkland and with Keane open in the six yard box and Kilbane on the line
in two minds about whether to defend the near post or cut out the pass
to Keane, Jenas slipped the ball past the Athletic defender to notch his
second of the match. It was an adventurous run and a calm finish
at the end of it and previously, particularly at Newcastle he has failed
to deliver a finish to such runs.
Aaron Lennon looked much like his old
self as he gave Kilbane a roasting on our right flank. He still needs to
pick out a better ball once he gets in a position to cross, but his pace
and skill ties defenders up and makes them think twice about diving into
the tackle, as he can skip past them if they commit themselves.
When Robinson kicked a 34th minute ball up-field, there looked no danger
for the visitors, but Berbatov controlled the ball and knocked it to
Lennon, who was lurking just behind him. Taking one touch on his
knee to knock the ball up, Aaron struck a volley that bounced in front
of Kirkland and the well-placed shot went out of his reach and into the
corner of the net from just outside the area.
3-0 and cruising, it looked as though
Tottenham might take Wigan apart, but as they did on Thursday, perhaps
they are learning how to kill games off without letting the opposition
back into the match. There was much talk in the stands about our
inability to defend a 3-0 half-time lead and the side went on to show
that they can hold a team like Wigan at bay without exerting themselves
too much. Against better opposition it may be different.
Jenas might have wrapped up his hat-trick
before the break had he finished off a flowing one-touch move on the
right hand side of the pitch. Berbatov and Lennon paved the way
for him to take the ball into the area, burst between two defenders and
as Kirkland rushed out, flick the ball past him, but to his dismay the
keeper had come out at just the right time to force him to put it inches
wide. In added time at the end of the half, Kaboul jumped highest
to head a Lennon corner over the top when Chimbonda was coming in behind
him and might have had a better run at the ball.
The break brought no further changes than
the ineffective Cotterill, who had been replaced by Sibierski in the
37th minute, but within five minutes Steed Malbranque had to leave the
field following a foul by Skoko. Spurs continued their forward
sorties and Keane lobbed over without really threatening the goal and
then a shooting opportunity was carved out for Chimbonda to bring a save
out of Kirkland for a corner. At the other end Siberski put Marcus
Bent away on the hour and he was about 15 yards out to the right of the
goal and hit a shot that flew over and would have had to have been an
outstanding effort to score from what was a pretty tight angle too.
When Spurs broke up the next Wigan move,
Lennon looked to break away, but was hauled down by Scharner with
Berbatov and Keane ahead of him. While the Austrian knew what he
was doing in accepting the yellow card, it could easily have been
construed to have been a goal-scoring opportunity, even though the foul
took place in the centre circle. Aaron's pace could certainly have
committed another defender to come out to him and that would have left
him the easy option of playing a pass through to an unmarked team-mate.
Shortly after, Wigan made a straight swap with Skoko, who also had
received a yellow card for a number of fouls, going off and former Spurs
midfielder Michael Brown coming on and his first involvement was to have
a sly kick at Jermaine Jenas.
It failed to stem the flow and Jenas was
denied his hat-trick for the second time, but this time it was a
linesman's flag that ruled him offside as a neat move held the ball for
a long time and then a couple of one touch passes put him in to loop the
ball over Kirkland, but to no avail. With the game going in
Tottenham's favour, Ramos decided to rest Robbie Keane and brought on
Darren Bent in his place.
Lennon was still enjoying running at the
opposition's defence and took on three players, including a nutmeg on
Brown, before striking a low shot from outside the area, which had the
keeper scrambling to push it around the post. Then with just over
20 minutes left, a move, which started from the back, went through
Berbatov to Jenas, who put Darren Bent through with a good ball into the
right hand side of the box and the striker took an early low shot across
Kirkland into the net off the far post to make it 4-0. The whole
team joined in the celebration, which perhaps shows that they are
becoming united again in getting the club further up the table.
Berbatov certainly looked more interested today and although he didn't
join the scorers, he played a part in the creation of each of the goals
and his control was back to the standard of last season.
The Wigan Bent hit a half-chance into the
side netting with Robinson looking worriedly at the effort, while the
Spurs Bent hit a shot wide after Berbatov had threaded the ball through
to him despite being surrounded by blue and white striped shirts.
Tottenham came even closer with ten minutes left, as Didier Zokora
picked off a Wigan pass and ran 30 yards before unleashing a shot from
just inside the 18 yard box and it needed Kirkland to push it wide, as
the Ivorian must have thought he was going to appear on the score-sheet
for the club for the first time.
Defoe replaced Lennon and was almost in
the right place to score with his first touch. Berbatov spun on a
sixpence to hit a shot that Kirkland did well to get a touch on and the
ball hit the right hand post. If it had bounced straight down,
Defoe would have been on hand to tuck it away, but it went across the
goal and Kaboul rushed in to hit a shot, but was unable to repeat his
strike of the Villa game and this time the ball crashed against the bar
and bounced away.
As the game came to the end, a free-kick
was met by Berbatov's head as Kirkland failed to make contact with his
punch, but the Bulgarian's header went over.
Without getting carried away, as it was
only Wigan, there were signs that there is a more defensive
understanding about the team, with the forwards harrying the opposition
defenders when on the ball and the midfield tracking back more
effectively. Kaboul did well and had obviously been told to put
the ball to a safe place rather than try and play it out from the back,
as he put the "safety first" ethic into practice. There were also
signs that the attacking play that Jol preached also shone through.
Ramos likes to play with a bit of flair and with the goals scored today,
they all had a bit of skill involved.
The next game in two weeks against West
Ham United will be more of a test, with the need to move further up the
table still uppermost.
MARCO van HIP