Wigan Athletic (Home)
Premier League

Sunday 11th November 2007

Having dispatched a poor Hapoel Tel Aviv side on Thursday, the 2-0 lead allowed Juande Ramos to take some players off while others looked like they were already taking it easy on the field.

Such an approach against Wigan will only lead to defeat, as, even without a manager, there will be a determination to grit out any sort of result they can achieve and that will have to be matched.  On current evidence, it is doubtful if Spurs will be able to do that.  Never at their best against a team who gets stuck in and gets up and down the pitch, the ironic thing was they were the better side for long periods of the game at the JJB at the end of last season when we were playing well.  To get a 3-3 draw from the match, it was Tottenham, who conversely got stuck in to graft out a point.  But dropped points such as those were responsible for our fifth place finish, rather than a higher placement.  It will be a mark of Ramos' influence if the team can be turned around to make that grade.

To start with the confidence in the side has to be restored.  Two clean sheets, admittedly against Blackpool and Hapoel, will help and one against a Premier League would help even more, but alas I do not think that will happen in this game. 

Secondly, the Spaniard has to find some creation in the side from midfield and to get them working as a unit.  This is easier said than done.  It is finding the right mix and the best combination for the supply to the front two.

Thirdly, he has to work out what is wrong with Dimitar Berbatov.  If it is a move he is after, Ramos is unlikely to stand in his way, but until then, he must be producing the goods or be banished to the bench, as he rightly was by Jol.

As for Wigan, they are not without their problems either.  Under Chris Hutchings, the style of previous campaigns changed and with it went the understanding the players had, leaving them vulnerable to being taken apart.

They have a good keeper in Kirkland, who has dropped off the big club scene at Liverpool and from the England reckoning, but his ability is sometimes let down by his concentration.  By giving him plenty to do, Tottenham might find that he will produce a gaffe somewhere along the line.

The defence has looked a bit more porous since De Zeeuw has left, with Titus Bramble coming in after a hapless spell at Newcastle.  Emerson Boyce is an athletic full back, but lacks technique and Lennon might find a way back into form by terrorising him up the wing, with the option of switching wings to have a go at the aging Melchiot on the other flank.  Both full backs of the visiting side are perhaps more content in attacking rather than carrying out their primary duty.  They also have the strapping central defender Fitz Hall, who has tried his luck at other clubs without a huge amount of success, while Austrian defender Paul Scharner is often better remembered for his goal-scoring than his goal-stopping.  Brought in from Tranmere Rvers, Ryan Taylor has been expected to fill the departing Leighton Baines' boots on occasion, but he lacks the big match experience at this time to do that job adequately, having played only a dozen games in each season at the club so far.

The midfield features Irishman Kevin Kilbane, who can work the line and put in good crosses, with a good finish himself, scoring against us with a rare header last April.  Denny Lanzaat is a Dutch midfielder who has featured regularly in their line-up this season and having won 55 caps for his country, he could have an influence on the game if allowed time and space.  Veteran Antoine Sibierski has scored some goals for the side since his signing from Newcastle United and his presence at set-pieces is a particular threat and another new signing in the shape of Michael Brown, is a player Spurs fans will be familiar with.  A tireless worker and one who snaps at the heels, leaving the player son the other side knowing they have been in a game.  He will know what the Spurs team are about and let his team-mates know what they need to do ... close down quickly and get tackles in.

Attacking midfielders Antonio Valencia and Jason Koumas are the means that Wigan use to open up opposition defences.  Koumas played for WBA in the top flight and only left them recently to go to the Lactics, but he has been one of the bright points of their season so far.  A good passer, good running with the ball and a good dead ball expert, he could be the one player who inspires the side to better things.  Valencia meanwhile comes from Ecuador and while he played some games last season and the majority of matches so far this campaign, he has not translated his form for his country into the PL.  A speedy winger, on his day, he could be a handful.  Another option open to acting manager Frank Barlow is Josip Skoko, an Australian, who made a major contribution last season, playing 29 times in the escape from relegation.  His efforts this season have earned him two yellow cards in seven games, so expect him to do what comes naturally to Wigan players and get stuck in.

Up front, Julius Aghahowa is a young Nigerian striker who Tottenham were interested in a few years back, but he has struggled to come to terms with the pace and power of the Premier League, while veteran Marcus Bent knows the PL well, he is finding it hard to get back into the swing of things in the absence of Heskey. 

Without Heskey, Spurs might breathe a hefty sigh of relief, but the side that takes to the field will make sure that Tottenham know they are in a game.  Even without seeming to be in the mood to battle, Tottenham might be able to play their way out of their predicament.  In this game, they could have to much for the visitors, but in other games, they will need to exert themselves a bit more.  A close run thing, but a win for Spurs, I think ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  2    Wigan Athletic  1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (knee), Ricardo Rocha, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Anthony Gardner (all ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); - (-);

WIGAN ATHLETIC :  -  Emile Heskey (foot); - (-); - (-); 


Sky Sports 1 -  Football First  -  Saturday 20.25
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152
 (live coverage)
BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney)  Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Singapore Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa  SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/10/12/live_commentaries_feature.shtml
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   4    Wigan Athletic   0      (Half-time score : 3-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 11th November 2007
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,504
Referee :  Howard Webb (Yorkshire)
Tottenham played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, overcast after drizzle before the match
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :


YP Lee

Lennon (Defoe 80)
Malbranque (Tainio 53)

Keane (c) (Bent 67)

Unused subs: 

Wigan Athletic :



Skoko (Brown 64)
Cotterill (Sibierski 39)


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur

  Wigan Athletic
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Jenas 13
Jenas 26
Lennon 34
Bent 72

Wigan Athletic


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




Wigan Athletic

Skoko (foul) 53
Scharner (foul) 64   


Match Report : -  
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 today.

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.



Reaction : -



Click here to go to Wyart Lane's reaction to the Wigan match.





Other scores this weekend :
Derby County 0 West Ham United 5 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Fulham 0 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Birmingham City 1 Aston Villa 2 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Middlesbrough 0 Sunday
Chelsea 1 Everton 1 -day
Manchester United 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 Sunday
Portsmouth 0 Manchester City 0 Sunday
Reading 1 Arsenal 3 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 12 9 3 0 27 10 30 +17
2 Manchester United 13 9 3 1 23 6 30 +17
3 Manchester City 13 8 2 3 16 13 26 +3
4 Chelsea 12 7 3 2 18 8 24 +10
5 Liverpool 11 6 5 0 19 6 23 +13
6 Portsmouth 13 6 5 2 25 13 23 +10
7 Aston Villa 12 6 3 3 18 14 22 +4
8 Blackburn Rovers 11 6 3 2 15 11 21 +4
9 Everton 12 6 1 5 19 14 19 +5
10 West Ham United 12 5 3 4 18 10 18 +8
11 Newcastle United 12 5 3 4 19 18 18 +1
12 Reading 13 4 1 8 16 29 13 -13
13 Fulham 13 2 6 5 16 20 12 -4
14 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 13 2 5 6 23 24 11 -1
15 Birmingham City 13 3 2 8 13 20 11 -7
16 Sunderland 12 2 4 7 13 22 10 -9
17 Middlesbrough 13 2 4 7 12 23 10 -11
18 Bolton Wanderers 13 1 5 7 11 18 8 -7
19 Wigan Athletic 13 2 2 9 10 23 8 -13
20 Derby County 13 1 3 9 5 31 6 -26



Back to homepage