Wigan Athletic (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 15th April 2007


Having lost out to Sevilla in the UEFA Cup, it is another big game that follows for Tottenham.  it is also a big match for Wigan, who are on a terrible run.  They have won against Newcastle United and Manchester City, but have dropped points against their bottom feeder neighbours, leaving them perilously near the drop zone.

The Lactics will enter this match with a patched up defence, as they are without Arjan De Zeeuw, Emmerson Boyce, David Unsworth and Fitz Hall all definitely out, while keeper Chris Kirkland is also missing with broken fingers.  Veteran Matt Jackson will feature in the centre of the defence and he will be joined by Ryan Taylor, Leighton Baines or Andreas Granqvist.  Taylor was a Tranmere defender and has played irregularly at Wigan since transferring across Lancashire in time for the 2005-06 season, while Baines is a home-grown player who has flirted with a call-up to the England squad.  An attacking full-back, Baines is speedy and strong in the tackle, but has been struggling in the side as they have struggled themselves, so his battle with Aaron Lennon will be an interesting one.  Having only made one FA Cup appearance, Granqvist looks like he might not be making his loan move permanent in the summer, after he was brought in to strengthen the defensive unit.

The midfield will feature wide ex-Everton man Kevin Kilbane, who likes to attack the line and pull crosses into the danger zone for the likes of the on-running Lee McCulloch or Andreas Johansson, both of whom like to get forward from midfield.  McCulloch has a physical presence which sometimes borders on the illegal, while Johansson is a bit more cultured, but sometimes gets knocked off the ball.  Tomasz Cywka is a Polish midfielder, who I know not a lot about.  They will miss out on the wing play of Valencia, who got sent off in last week's draw with Aston Villa and will miss out through suspension.  Danny Landzaat arrived from AZ Alkmaar and has had a tough time at the JJB.  He is a hard worker, but has yet to impose himself on games in the Premiership.

Goalkeeper John Filan has been the one chosen between the posts lately with Kirkland missing, while Mike Pollitt has been out injured and Paul Jewell has had bring in Carlo Nash on loan, who has had to settle for a place on the bench.  Filan is coming to the end of his time at the top, while Nash has also been around for a long while, but both have experience, although sometimes their judgement is not what it should be.

Attacking players are perhaps Wigan's strength at the moment, which is surprising as they have only hit only 32 goals in 33 games.  Nippy Henri Camara can turn on a sixpence and also shows good skill on the ball outside the box to act as a provider for fellow strikers Emile Heskey and Paul Scharner.  Heskey we all know about.  A big lump, who sometimes causes us problems, but he has failed to set alight his career at Wigan after his release from Liverpool.  New boy Caleb Folan was noted for his giant-killing cup feats this season and has already got on the score-sheet in the Premiership.  Other options up front are Croatian international Josip Skoko, the man who is named after George Best (in his middle names) David Cotterill and a man who attracted attention from Spurs a few seasons back when he was at Shaktar Donetsk and featured for Nigeria, Julius Agahowa.  A rangy youngster, who is strong and agile - as his back-flip celebration showed.

For Spurs, it will be a test of how they can bounce back in a game that they should win, but might prove harder than they first think.  We are still not great away from home, but the need for a pacy start with a high-tempo showing to push Wigan back is more necessary than ever.  Having comeback from 0-2 down on Thursday, hopefully it is not a position we will face on Sunday.  We still have rouble keeping a clean sheet, so I will go for a narrow win ...

PREDICTION : -  Wigan Athletic  1   Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


WIGAN ATHLETIC :  -  Antonio Valencia (suspended); Arjan De Zeeuw (back); Emmerson Boyce (rib); David Unsworth (groin); Fitz Hall (groin); Chris Kirkland (broken fingers); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Anthony Gardner (broken leg); Tom Huddlestone (knee); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Dorian Dervite (knee); Paul Stalteri (hip); Young-Pyo Lee (knee); Mido (illness); - (-); 


Sky Sports 1 - (live coverage)
Match of the Day (BBC 1) -  Saturday 22.30 - 23.20 (highlights) - repeated Sunday 07.35
Sky Sports 1 -  Goals on Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - 22.30 - 23.20 (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
Planet football -
http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs-pl04-kean0.ram (free - only available when match is on.)
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.




Wigan Athletic   3   Tottenham Hotspur    3      (Half-time score : 2-2)

Premier League
Venue : -  JJB Stadium
Sunday 15th April 2007
Kick Off :  1.30 p.m.
Crowd :   16,506
Referee :  Graham Poll (Tring)
Weather :  -  Hot, sunny
Teams : - 
Wigan Athletic :


Jackson (Skoko 73)
De Zeeuw (c)

McCulloch (Taylor 40)

Heskey (Folan 66)

Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :



Tainio (Malbranque 65)
Lennon (Defoe 75)

Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
C. Lee

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Wigan Athletic

Heskey 2
Baines 30
Kilbane 60

Tottenham Hotspur

Berbatov 4
Keane (p) 35
Keane 68

Cards : -  
Wigan Athletic

Filan (foul) 35
De Zeeuw (foul) 75
Scharner (persistent fouling) 86  


Tottenham Hotspur 




Match Report : -  
A pulsating match saw Tottenham equalise three times, but ultimately fail to gain an important win in their chase for a UEFA Cup place by conceding cheap goals to the home side.

It all started as soon as 53 seconds into the match, when a free-kick from the left wing swung in by Danny Landzaat caused a calamity of errors.  A header came in that was blocked on the line, the ball dropped and Phil Ifil dived low to head it up, only for the ball to be headed goalwards again, with Emile Heskey nodding it past Paul Robinson into the net to give the home side a flying start.

Having let a goal in on Thursday in similar circumstances, it was far from an ideal start for Tottenham and they desperately needed to get back quickly if they were to get anything from the game.  Lennon dispossessed Boyce and when he cleared the ball eventually, it fell to a Spurs player and some neat close passing in the box saw Robbie Keane feed Dimitar Berbatov near the penalty spot.  With a skip and a jump, he turned two Wigan defenders and with a quick prod of his right foot sent the ball into the gaping half of the goal that John Filan had left unprotected.  Berba's taking of the shot so early left the keeper with no chance to react and put Spurs level 135 seconds after the home side had established their lead.

At times, Tottenham were passing the ball around with such confidence it could be likened to the way Sevilla did it to us.  At times, we passed the ball like we did in the first half on Thursday, which was not so good.  On a hot day, the movement was good and the efforts put in by Zokora and Jenas were impressive as they both covered a lot of ground.  From a lofty position behind the goal, the pitch looked huge with so much space allowed for both sides, but neither used it to it's fullest extent.  Tottenham failed to get Lennon in the game enough, while Wigan's reliance on the long ball failed to utilise the width provided by Kilbane on the left.

Rocha blocked Camara and Landzaat denied Berbatov, while the Bulgarian had a free header at Jenas' corner, but failed to get it on target, letting Wigan off with slack marking.  He did better with about twenty minutes in, when he was put away on the left by Keane and after calmly waiting to pick out the best pass, he set up Keano about five yards out, but the Irish striker mis-hit his shot and it was easily blocked.

The continued use of the long ball caused Tottenham problems in the air at the back.  With half an hour gone, one such ball was nodded away by Dawson, but not far enough away, as it fell to Leighton Baines about 25 yards out wide on the left.  He waited for it to drop so that he could hit across the ball and it flew off the side of his boot and into the top corner of Robinson's goal to put Wigan 2-1 ahead.  It was another spectacular goal Spurs have conceded this season.

The Lactics could have added another shortly after, when Camara failed to head on target after McCulloch won a far post header and knocked it back across goal.  As it was, it proved a costly miss, with Tottenham breaking away at speed, with Jenas taking a return pass from Aaron Lennon on the left and getting to the ball first when Baines looked favourite and as he went past Filan, the keeper completed the foul for Graham Poll to point to the spot.  Robbie Keane grabbed the ball and assuming responsibility, placed it on the spot and stroked it to the keeper's left as Filan crumpled in the middle of the goal.

Jermaine's runs from deep were causing Wigan problems as they did not seem to be able to pick them up and another lung-busting run saw him just denied by Filan as he burst into the area.  However, the best two chances of the remainder of the first half fell to Wigan.  Firstly, a cross into the box by substitute Taylor looked like Chimbonda, who was the target of the ire of the home supporters, would clear the danger, but he failed to be decisive enough and Kilbane darted in front of him, but could not get his volley on target.  The final effort of the half was on target, as Scharner met Boyce's ball into the area and Robbo made a super reflex save to keep it out.  As he recovered, he saw Kilbane rise to head the rebound, but with the majority of the goal to aim at, he put it over the bar in front of the massed ranks of the Tottenham fans.

It was a let-off for Tottenham, but after the break, they were forced onto the back foot to keep Athletic at bay.  Landzaat had a 20-yarder skim the surface and brought a diving stop from ENO, while Kilbane once more missed the goal with a glancing header.  Ten minutes into the half, Scharner took a pass from Camara and whacked it back at goal from 25 yards out, with it shaving the crossbar as it flew over the top.  The Austrian was in on the far post alone, but Robbo closed him down quickly to put him off so much that he sliced his shot that went off for a throw-in.  But then right on the hour, Spurs conceded a corner and when it came in from Taylor, Chimbonda lost Kilbane who rose highest to head powerfully into the top of the net to give Wigan the lead for the third time.

Straight away, Spurs hit back.  A foul left Jeans with a free-kick 25 yards out and he curled it to the far post, making Filan back-peddle and just get a good enough hand on it to take it wide.  But they had to wait until 68 minutes had gone before pulling level for the third time.  Paul Robinson kicked a long ball through the middle of the pitch and while it didn't go in this time, it was a good enough ball to confuse Matt Jackson, who had a poor game - heading the ball with a head like a three-penny bit and generally holding Berbatov in the area and tripping players off the ball, mis-judged the flight of the ball.  With one bounce it was past him and Robbie Keane was onto it like a flash, noting that Filan was advancing out of his area.  Keano lifted the ball high over the Aussie keeper and from our position behind the goal, it looked as though his high lob from 30 yards out was going wide, but we were all delighted when it bounced up near the line and into the roof of the net to bring Spurs even at 3-3.  

De Zeeuw got a well-deserved yellow card for a heavy challenge on Berbatov, who had been too clever for the Dutchman and was away from him and later Charner got a caution for three bad tackles.  Defoe replaced Lennon and was nippy around the area, bursting into the area on the right hand side before trying to find Berbatov, but only picked out Filan's low dive instead.  He was in a similar position when Jenas' free-kick dropped at the far post to Chimbonda and the desire to score against his old side overcame him and he hit the keeper instead of hitting his fellow Spurs striker.

With time running out, Wigan got desperate and Tottenham began to hold the ball better and keep it at the other end, but having failed to contest the second phase of play very well all day, one last example left Tottenham grateful for the goalkeeper's agility.  When it dropped out to Scharner some 40 yards from goal, he hit a high looping effort that was dropping into the top corner of the net until Robbo leapt to keep it out and collided with the post, but was sharp enough to get up and reclaim the loose ball before any Wigan player could react to it.

It was an exciting match, although it lacked the technical and tactical aspects of Thursday night's draw, but there was goalmouth action galore and the contrast in styles made for an interesting spectacle.  However, the comments made before the match about how many goals we concede came to haunt us and although we got three, we should have defended better to stop three going in.  Rocha had a rocky game today and Chimbonda did OK, but seemed affected by the booing.  Ifil came in at left back, not his natural position and looked heavy and not as sharp as you would expect.  With a lot of defenders injured, we are stretched to the limit at the moment, but the games keep on coming, so will need to shape up in time for the Arsenal match this Saturday.

As for Wigan, they seemed happy with the point.  Maybe it will be enough to keep them up with all around them faltering, but this physical, lower league approach to football will not save them in the long run if they continue to play it.  In the past, they have been more inclined to play better football, but perhaps needs must as Paul Jewell tries to keep them up.  It is a shame that their shiny ground today reflected not glory, but just a lot of empty plastic seats.





Reaction : -



How sweet it was that Totenham's last equaliser came from a long punt from Robbo downfield that niggly central defender Matt Jackson missed and left Robbie Keane the chance to lift the ball over Filan to make it 3-3.

The home crowd were hilarious with their "Soft Southern B*****s" chant and the booing of Chimbonda who they regard as a money grabber.  To me, it just looked like he wanted to play for a team who play more football than hoofing the ball higher than the towering stands at the JJB. 

The Lactics fans leapt up and down three times as the PA blared out "Tom Hark" after every goal.  It wasn't played after Tottenham's goals, so the Spurs fans performed their own version and taunted the home supporters with the "Stuck with the rugby" song. 

It was a weird atmosphere.  16,500 fans in the ground, of which about 3,000-3,500 must have been Spurs, but the noise the home fans made was very loud.  First of all I thought they must have been playing some pre-recorded tapes, but perhaps it was the structure of the vaulted roof that made the noise echo around the ground.  But they do go quiet when they let one in !!

It must have been a thrilling game for the unbiased watcher, but both teams made defensive mistakes and scored some good goals, while they compressed play through the middle of the pitch.

Despite the draw suiting neither team particularly well, there was a nice touch when Paul Jewell volleyed a ball that had gone out of play back onto the pitch.  BMJ in the adjoining technical area reached out to give him a low five to indicate that he still has it.

He's not quite Berbatov, and certainly not worth 10.9 million, but if he can keep Wigan up he will be worth more than that to the home fans.




Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Aston Villa 3 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Reading 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Sheffield United 3 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Everton 2 Charlton Athletic 1 Sunday
FA Cup Semi-finals
Watford 1 Manchester United 4 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Chelsea  (after extra time : 1-1 at 90 mins) 2 Sunday
Midweek games
Manchester United 2 Sheffield United 0 Monday
Arsenal 3 Manchester City 1 Monday
Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 0 Tuesday
West Ham United 1 Chelsea 4 Tuesday
Blackburn Rovers 3 Watford 1 Tuesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 33 26 3 4 77 23 81 +54
2 Chelsea 33 24 6 3 60 20 78 +40
3 Liverpool 34 19 7 8 52 22 64 +30
4 Arsenal 34 18 8 8 57 31 62 +26
5 Everton 34 14 12 8 46 30 54 +16
6 Bolton Wanderers 34 16 6 12 41 42 54 -1
7 Portsmouth 34 13 10 10 43 38 49 +5
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 33 14 7 12 47 48 49 -1
9 Reading 34 14 6 14 45 41 48 +4
10 Blackburn Rovers 33 13 4 16 41 48 43 -7
11 Aston Villa 34 9 15 10 36 39 42 -3
12 Newcastle United 34 11 8 15 37 43 41 -6
13 Manchester City 34 11 8 15 27 38 41 -11
14 Middlesbrough 34 10 9 15 37 44 39 -7
15 Wigan Athletic 34 9 8 17 35 52 35 -17
16 Fulham 34 7 14 13 34 53 35 -19
17 Sheffield United 34 9 7 18 29 49 34 -20
18 Charlton Athletic 34 8 8 18 30 51 32 -21
19 West Ham United 34 8 5 21 27 58 29 -31
20 Watford 34 4 11 19 25 56 23 -31



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