Wigan Athletic (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 11th January 2009


Coming just nine days after a meeting in the FA Cup, this game against Wigan Athletic might actually bear little resemblance to the one at White Hart Lane.

Both sides were below full strength for one reason or another and this time the teams that take the field might be more like both sides starting XIs.  For Spurs, they have been boosted by the arrival of Jermain Defoe and the return to fitness and availability of players from injury and suspension.

For Wigan, some of the players who were absent from the league game because they were injured or rested will return, including Chris Kirkland in goal and defenders Paul Scharner and Mario Melchiot.  While Richard Kingson had no chance with the first two goals, his attempt to stop Pavlyuchenko's swerving stop was less then impressive, so having Kirkland back will boost the morale of the team, especially being at home.  However, Spurs have a good goalscoring record against the Latics and the keeper who was expected to go on and be an England regular has failed to fulfil that promise.  His angles are not always what they should be and with two players who are willing to shoot at any opportunity playing up front, he might be tested throughout the game.

Much of how much he has to cope with is dependant on what his defenders do and with Scharner back in the middle of the defence and the experienced Melchiot at full back, the back four will be stronger for it.  Aaron Lennon's direct running at Kilbane proved fruitful and he may have some more success, although Spurs are perhaps more likely to be set up to hit on the break and his pace might disturb either Boyce or Figueroa if they feature.  Pav gave Titus Bramble a tough time, but the central defender didn't make one of his famous gaffes, but with Defoe there too and Campbell on the bench, there is enough ability there to test the Wigan defence.  Figueroa is a big, tough central defender and Boyce has a bit more pace, but is also of big build and can be turned.  While it is going to be the home side who are expected to do more attacking, Spurs could benefit if they can keep Wigan out and they lose their shape in throwing everything forward.

Tough-tackling Lee Cattermole returns in midfield after serving his suspension and will face Jermaine Jenas, who does likewise.  The two only have that in common, as Jenas often gets penalised for fouls when running back to stop opponents getting into the Spurs half, whereas, Cattermole is more a "front on" tackler.  Having won the ball, the Wigan man often opts for the short pass, but he can strike a long ball to the wide men and also likes to get into the box.  With ex-Spur Michael Brown also available, it could be quite a competitive duo in the middle of the midfield four that face Tottenham.  With Valencia and Palacios wide on the flanks, they are encouraged to attack and will also be expected to get back and defend, although they are always as good at that.  If Wigan push too far forward, then they might well leave openings for the Tottenham wide men to get forward, so in a game like this and with Bentley being out of form, I would guess Lennon and O'Hara would be chosen to play either side of Jenas and Zokora.  It might mean a place for Modric on the bench, as Wigan are going to use their stamina and effort to try and break Spurs down and it might be a game in which Luka gets over-whelmed, although he stood up well to the test in the Cup game.

In attack, it will be a different kettle of fish this time, with Amr Zaki and Emile Heskey paired together.  Zaki made a big impact on the Premier League when the Egyptian first joined Wigan, but he has not maintained his scoring record and looked out of sorts when he came to the Lane for the league match, but he has a good awareness of where the ball might be going and an explosive finish.  Strong on both the ground and in the air, he is similar to Heskey, who will be the target for many of the out balls for Wigan.  He can hold the ball up well to bring others into the play and also has the ability to win headers.  Since he has been at Wigan, he has been a consistent performer and a consistent scorer, something he lacked at Liverpool after being a big hit at Leicester City, where he started his career.  As a pairing, there can be few physically stronger strike-forces, so if Ledley King is back, it might be what we need, although Dawson is good in the air, but lacks a solid frame to stand up to a battering by Heskey.

These games have usually been full of goals, although the 0-0 at White Hart Lane was a result of neither team playing particularly well.  With the strikers in good form and with points a priority for both teams, it might produce a repeat of last season's draw at the JJB ...

PREDICTION : -  Wigan Athletic  1   Tottenham Hotspur   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


WIGAN ATHLETIC :  -  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (suspension 3 of 3); - (-); 


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Wigan Athletic   1   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  JJB Stadium
Sunday 11th January 2009
Kick Off :  1.30 p.m.
Crowd :   17,500
Referee :  Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Weather :  -  Cold, dry
Teams : - 
Wigan Athletic :

  1  Kirkland

25  Melchiot
  7  Scharner     
19  Bramble
31  Figueroa 

  5  Palacios     
  4  Cattermole
  2  Taylor
16  Valencia     

  9  Heskey
19  Zaki

Unused subs: 
12  Politt
  3  Edman
17  Boyce
11  Brown
  8  Kilbane 
18  De Ridder 

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
20  Dawson  (  8  Jenas 78)
26  King (c)
39  Woodgate     
  3  Bale     

14  Modric  (  7  Lennon 58)
24  O'Hara
  4  Zokora     

25  Defoe
  9  Pavlyuchenko (10  Bent 53)

Unused subs: 
21  Sanchez
  6  Huddlestone
  5  Bentley
18  Campbell

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Wigan Athletic

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Wigan Athletic

Figueroa 90

Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  
Wigan Athletic

Valencia (elbow)  65 
Palacios (foul)  69 
Scharner (foul) 81  


Tottenham Hotspur 

Bale (foul)  33
Zokora (foul)  72
Woodgate (foul)  75


Match Report : -  
A new playing system and a lack of response to an injured goalkeeper helped Tottenham keep Wigan at bay and then let them in for a winner in added on time at the JJB stadium today for their first victory against Spurs in their history.

With Tottenham lining up with five at the back, it seemed a system set to invite the home side onto the Spurs defence, with only three in midfield, but the actual line-up put Ledley King just in front of the back four.  it was a move which kept Wigan away from goal, but failed to help Spurs mount any meaningful attacks, as the captain was caught on the ball too often and Modric seemed fettered in his usual roving game.  But then it almost came off.

Wigan may be the form team in the Premier League, but they were poor and Tottenham were set up in a formation which was unable to take advantage of it.  The tempo Spurs started at hinted that there may be something in Redknapp's tactical switch, but after that the game was fragmented with little time on the ball for the home team until Tottenham switched back to a more traditional 4-4-2.

The returning Chris Kirkland could easily have been picking the ball out of his net within a minute of the start.  A free-kick conceded by Valencia on the left wing was swept in by O'Hara and King got his head to it, but it was a regulation stop for Kirkland, except it wasn't.  The Wigan keeper fumbled it a la Carroll and as Michael Dawson came ion to try and snaffle a headed goal, Kirkland just got a punch on the ball before it went wronger than he had already made it.

Ten minutes in another free-kick from roughly the same position was played low into the box for O'Hara to have a shot, but he scuffed it and even then, if someone had been alert at the far post, they could have stuck it away.  Zaki got into a good position after Zokora had been robbed of the ball in midfield, but as he shot, Michael Dawson came out of nowhere to throw himself in front of the ball and blocked it for a corner.  O'Hara then floated a ball over the head of the last man, but as it dropped beyond him on the edge of the penalty area, Jermain Defoe was unable to bring it down and it ran through to Kirkland.  Then with 15 minutes gone, Jamie O'Hara got away on the left again and crossed to the far post, where Dawson was now in attack and his header was at a good height for Kirkland to grab on the dive.

It was about halfway through the first half that Tottenham seemed to stop playing at a tempo and style to trouble the home team.  Wigan had a couple of efforts off target, the closest being Taylor's free kick, but Bale got booked as he went for a ball between him and Valencia, which hindered him for the rest of the game, with the free-kick for the foul swung in and Zaki headed it, but across goal and past the far post by a foot, rather than in.  Palacios tried an ambitious overhead kick, but the best chance of the half came in the 38th minute and it went to Wigan.  Zaki got away on the left and put in a cross that flicked off Woodgate's head to take it to the far post.  Bale went to sleep and Heskey drifted in behind him, leaving Gomes to come out to close him down and block out his shot for a corner.

Spurs had an opening five minutes before half time, when Defoe won the ball in the Wigan half and he fed the ball out to the right where Didier Zokora was coming up in support.  Unfortunately, it couldn't have fallen to a worse player in that position, as he elected to shoot and it went straight in front of him, which wasn't great considering he was just inside the wide line of the penalty box.  A ball back across the area might have proved more fruitful.  There was still time for Heskey to crumple under challenge from O'Hara and Taylor tried once more to hit the target with a free-kick and once more failed.

The half-time interval brought no substitutions, so Spurs lined up with the 5-3-2 formation, which had worked OK up until then, but within eight minutes, Harry had made his usual substitution of Bent for Pavlyuchenko.  While the link-up play with Defoe wasn't working great, Roman was chasing back into midfield to help out and I think it was possibly worth persevering with a bit longer.  The substitution proved even more rash when Gomes raced out to clear as Heskey threatened to go through in the 54th minute.  He was left wincing as he pulled a groin in kicking the ball away and it was therefore a bit surprising when Harry brought on Lennon for Modric within five minutes of the keeper's injury.

With the little winger's introduction, Spurs move back to 4-4-2 and immediately, it seemed to give the advantage to Wigan.  Valencia started to get room to attack Bale and form one run, he pulled a cross back low into the area, but Tottenham cleared it easily.  Then came a rash of yellow cards, as the ref realised he had brought them along after all and should use them.  Valencia elbowed Bale in the head and got a yellow for it and Palacios got on for his umpteenth foul, including one which the official didn't see, when he hauled back Defoe as he was set to race up-field after a corner was cleared.  Then Zokora and Woodgate were booked for their first fouls, with Scharner following them for a crude scythe at Bent as he raced away from him just outside the box.

In between all this, Dawson had to be replaced by Jenas, following his third knock to the head in the match, leaving Spurs with King and Woodgate in the middle of defence and no chance of bringing on a replacement for Gomes, having used all their subs.

As the game went on the ref started giving soft free-kicks to the Latics, with Heskey backing into King on the edge of the box and being given a foul when King jumped for the ball with Heskey going underneath him.  Luckily it came to nothing, but as time went on, it became obvious what was going to happen.

Wigan began flinging in high balls, knowing Gomes couldn't come for them now.  Zaki got to the first one at the far post and could not get his head around it enough, while Heskey got the second from a free-kick by Scharner, but again, he was wide with his effort.  With the next one, Spurs were sunk.

Bale got caught with a ball inside him to find Valencia and it was headed out for a corner as added time began to tick in.  From Taylor's corner, the ball went to the near post and Jermaine Jenas left Figueroa, who powered home a header with Gomes beaten stuck to his line.  It was a sucker punch and a move which Wigan often use, but once more one moment of lax defending had cost us a point.

Maybe it wouldn't have been deserved, as for two thirds of the game, Wigan took the initiative and Spurs must learn that we cannot defend for 90 minutes (of 72.5 minutes come to that).  The system was a nice try and it foxed the home side for a while, but in the end, Spurs reverted to type and suffered the consequences.  I cannot quite understand why Gomes didn't come off, as Redknapp will have to trust Sanchez to replace him when needed or he needs to get Alnwick on the bench or bring someone else in.

With three losses and two draws in the last five league games, we are suffering relegation form.  Others are too, namely Middlesbrough, Bolton and Hull, but they all have the points in the bag and we need to pull away as far as possible, so that we don't keep getting dragged back into the bottom three.  The away form must improve too if we are to stay up, as we fritter away too many points on the road.  And we need to start scoring goals in the league again.  Seven in the last two cup games, but none again today.  Goals win matches; defensive lapses lose them, but if you have goals in the net, you can afford the odd slip.





Reaction : -



Read Wyart Lane's view of the Wigan defeat at the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone, by clicking here.
I'm sitting here not believing what I can see.

We are in deep deep trouble - 21 games - 20 points --20 goals - that has relegation written all over it.

King Harry has now mustered 18 points in 13 games , not good.  How many games are we throwing away ??  Gomes mistakes against Villa and Fulham; late goals against Newcastle, WBA and now Wigan - -that's five points down the drain there, when we should have drawn them all.  Redknapp is a manager that has managed struggling clubs all his life, so he is used to being down there, but who wants that kind of record -  no goals against Everton, WBA, Fulham, Wigan - I'm hating football at the minute. 

Sky sports.  Setanta.   Money grabbing gits.

Grinning overpaid jerks who write off Ferraris then get in the next available Bentley or Roller.  Drinking the night away in nite clubs and fighting dj's and people still idolise them.

I'm truly fed up with Spurs, the team, the manager the board.  What's the point of getting to the Carling Cup final and getting licked by big mouth Alex Ferguson's prima
donna's  ??

Start scoring in the league, not the cup. 

Spurs you are useless.  We have to play Chelsea at home, Arsenal at home, Villa
away, Everton away, Man U away, Liverpool away ... so that's six more games and no points there on this performance; leaving 11 games to salvage at least 21 points
or winning seven games if you like.  Even then that might not be enough.

I cannot see us doing it -- please prove me wrong - but I think I might wager a 10 on
Spurs to get relegated.

One truly pissed off Spurs fan. 


Up to this game Harry Redknapp had an average of 1.5 points per game.  With 17 games left, we need about 43 points to survive, so that means he will have to gain an average of 1.35 points in the remaining matches.

So 23 points will have to come from some battling draws and then wins against some of the following : -  Portsmouth, West Ham, Blackburn, Newcastle, Stoke, Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers and Hull City.  Now seeing as Blackburn, Bolton, Hull and Sunderland will have home advantage and our away record is dismal, that makes it a bit more difficult.  With Arsenal, Chelsea and a  much changed Manchester City (by the time we play them) still to be played at the Lane, the best we could hope for is a point from those matches.  Villa, Man U, Everton and Liverpool all to come away from the Lane, anything from those would be a bonus.

Realistically, if the team decide to play to their potential, we can look for wins against Portsmouth, WBA, Stoke, Boro and Hull.  That is fifteen, leaving another eight to be collected from somewhere to be sure of safety.  I can't see eight draws from the other fixtures, so a surprise win and a win at either Bolton or Sunderland or Blackburn might be the minimum required.

At the moment, anything like that looks a long way off and the only consolation is that is is quite tight up to eighth place at the moment, but things will need to change for Spurs, as  they won't stay that way forever.




Other scores this weekend and midweek :
Arsenal 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Everton 2 Hull City 0 Saturday
Fulham P Blackburn Rovers P Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 West Ham United 2 Saturday
Portsmouth P Manchester City P Saturday
Stoke City 0 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Manchester United 3 Chelsea 0 Sunday
Manchester United 1 Wigan Athletic 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 21 13 7 1 35 13 46 +22
2 Manchester United 20 13 5 2 33 10 44 +23
3 Chelsea 21 12 6 3 40 12 42 +28
4 Aston Villa 21 12 5 4 35 23 41 +12
5 Arsenal 21 11 5 5 34 24 38 +11
6 Everton 21 10 5 6 29 25 35 +4
7 Wigan Athletic 21 9 4 8 24 21 31 +3
8 Hull City 21 7 6 8 28 39 27 -11
9 Fulham 19 6 8 5 18 14 26 +4
10 West Ham United 21 7 5 9 26 30 26 -4
11 Bolton Wanderers 21 7 2 12 22 29 23 -7
12 Portsmouth 20 6 5 9 21 33 23 -12
13 Manchester City 20 6 4 10 38 30 22 +8
14 Newcastle United 21 5 8 8 28 34 23 -6
15 Sunderland 21 6 5 10 22 30 23 -8
16 Middlesbrough 21 5 6 10 18 30 21 -12
17 Stoke City 21 5 6 10 18 33 21 -15
18 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 21 5 5 11 20 26 20 -6
19 Blackburn Rovers 20 4 5 10 22 36 18 -14
20 West Bromwich Albion 21 5 3 13 17 37 18 -20


Position before the weekend :  16th
Position before the match :  18th
Position after the match :  18th

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