Wigan Athletic (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 21st February 2010

With the last game between the two teams ending in a 9-1 win for Spurs, the TV cameras will be hoping for a repeat performance, but the Wigan Athletic management and players will be doing their damndest to ensure that the end result does not even come close to that game in November.

Since that big victory, teams have been trying to thwart Tottenham's attacking options, usually by packing the back line and midfield and while Wigan host the game and will be expected to come out and set the pace, Spurs have played well enough away from home to counter that if they have the right mental attitude.  Wilson Palacios must be on his guard against the angry Latic fans, albeit the few who turn up for matches, who seem to take great offence to players leaving their team.

But the way Spurs play might help to off-set the rugged approach some Wigan players take, although Roberto Martinez has tried to get them to play some football.  The quick thinking of the players was shown by Maynor Figueroa's goal against Stoke City form inside his own half.  A string defender, who obviously has the long-sight for a long shot, he has caught the attention of Spurs, among other clubs, who might be interested in his services come the summer.  Alongside him, Titus Bramble has had a resurgence in popularity, although at WHL, he was less than interested.  Chris Kirkland has had a nightmare season, with injuries and goals flying past him, but he once was touted as the next great England keeper, but has failed to live up to that billing.  A goalie who should be good, as he has all the attributes of a top keeper, but something goes wrong on the pitch and it may be his decision making skills which are lacking. 

Serbian keeper Vladimir Stojkovic has been brought in during the last transfer window on loan from Sporting Lisbon, but his performances have shown him to be short of top quality.  Other defenders at the club who might play in front of the new keeper are Emmerson Boyce and Gary Caldwell, Mario Melchiot, Paul Scharner and Antonio Amaya.  The latter is a player that Martinez brought in from Spain, where he was playing for Rayo Vallecano, but he has been used very sparingly in the Premier league since his arrival in August last year and I don't expect him to start for Wigan on Sunday.  Scharner was the sole scorer for Wigan in the 9-1 game and that was with the aid of a large handball, but the defender, who can play either midfield or as a striker, can be a handful, but hopefully he will be more gainfully employed in his own penalty area.  Caldwell has been brought in from Glasgow Celtic to bolster the back four and he is good in the air, but may not be accustomed to the pace of the Premier League, so Jermain Defoe might get some joy if he finds himself one on one with the centre-half.  Melchiot is a veteran of Chelsea and Birmingham City's tenure in the top flight, while Emmerson Boyce is a leggy defender, who is a bit clumsy and was at fault for a couple of the goals in the first meeting.  Erik Edman has since left Wigan, but the lack of pace resulting from Lennon's absence might prevent the home defence from getting a roasting.

In attack, Hugo Rodellega has been making a name for himself, but this season, has scored only seven in 25 starts, reflecting the difficulty Wigan have found in scoring.  Strong as an ox and with a powerful shot on him like a horse's kick, Rodellega can be a tough opponent, so Spurs will need to be strong in their marking and tackling on him.  Charles N'ogbia plays just behind the front two and can use his pace and trickery to get in and around the box.  A very capable finisher, he prefers to play wide and his passing can be very good.  Doesn't like tracking back too much, so might be able to find some space behind hid position if play switches to give Tottenham possession when Wigan are caught up-field.

With a Rodellega look-a-like available in Jason Scotland, Wigan could pair them in a physically duo, but N'Zogbia might play up alongside Hugo, with wither Scott Sinclair, on loan form Chelsea for the season or Victor Moses, just signed from Crystal Palace, filling the wing berths.  Both have good dribbling skills, with an eye for goal a characteristic for both players.  Their movement will need to be tracked by our own midfielder and it will be interesting to see how they cope going the other way.  Other midfield positions might go to Hendry Thomas, who the JJB fans hope will be the next Wilson Palacios, but lacks the presence as yet and young Scot James McCarthy, who signed from Hamilton Academicals in the summer.  Not a fully rounded player at the moment, but a player with a good eye for a pass and an opening to run into.  Spaniard Jordi Gomez is a player with a fine free-kick in his locker and who can play little passes through defences to open them up.  Most often used from the bench, he has failed to produce the goods when he has been played and may be a peripheral figure on the day.

Spurs may rest Ledley King and are still without Lennon and Assou-Ekotto, however, we have seen over the last few weeks that Gareth Bale has become a source of supply from the flank and I imagine he will try and plough a furrow through the rugby league ravaged JJB pitch to get to the Wigan defence and the forwards will need to be converting a larger percentage of the chances created to see off the Latics.  Putting teams away has been a failing and while Wigan were the recipients of the only real time Spurs have showed that, it is unlikely that will be the case again here.  I go for a narrow Tottenham win that might get them back in the groove after a poor start to 2010 and hopefully, without the award of a penalty to the Lilywhites ...

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 :  - Titus Bramble (doubtful - hamstring); Steve Ghouri (doubtful - hamstring); Richard Kingson (out - torn muscle); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Benoit Assou-Ekotto (out - hip); Ledley King (doubtful - knee); Aaron Lennon (out - groin); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Carlo Cudicini (out - hip and wrists); - (-); - (-); - (-); 


Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD1 - (live coverage)
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Radio :  
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 (live coverage)
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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
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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 :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -
click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Wigan Athletic   0   Tottenham Hotspur    3      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  JJB Stadium
Sunday 21st February 2010
Kick Off :  4.15 p.m.
Crowd :  16,165
Referee :  Alan Wiley (Burntwood)
Wigan kicked off and played towards the North Stand end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Cold; rain, hail, snow
Teams : - 
Wigan Athletic :

  1  Kirkland

25  Melchiot
  7  Scharner
  5  Caldwell
31  Figueroa      

24  McCarthy      
20  Rodellega
  6  Thomas   (11  Moses 56)
27  Diame      
14  N'Zogbia

18  Moreno   (16  Sinclair 76)

Unused subs: 
29  Stojkovic
15  Gomez
  8  Watson
  9  Scotland

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
26  King  (c)  (19  Bassong  52)
20  Dawson      
  3  Bale

21  Kranjcar  (14  Modric  69)
12  Palacios
  6  Huddlestone      
  5  Bentley      

18  Defoe           (  9  Pavlyuchenko  73    )
15  Crouch

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
25  Rose
17  Gudjohnsen
  4  Kaboul

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Wigan Athletic

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Wigan Athletic


Tottenham Hotspur

Defoe 27
Pavlyuchenko 84
Pavlyuchenko  90+3
Cards : -  
Wigan Athletic

Diame (foul)  65
McCarthy (foul)  75
Figueroa (foul) 90+2


Tottenham Hotspur 

Defoe (encroaching at a free-kick)  37
Bentley (foul)  40
Dawson (foul)  51
Huddlestone (foul)  72 


Match Report : -  
With two late goals, Roman Pavlyuchenko showed what he can do very well and sealed a good three away points for Tottenham on a pitch that was more cut up than the meat in the famous Wigan pies.

As it was, the flag-waving home fans were left with nothing better to do than fling the pies at the big screen when it showed Jermain Defoe putting Tottenham one up from a clear off-side position in the 27th minute.  Like many decisions the officials don't make, they are the only ones who don't see it and as Gareth Bale went down the left, the linesman had a clear view from behind of Defoe's run in to tap the Welshman's cross in from a yard or two out.  Even the England striker looked tentatively across to see if there was to be a flag.

The only flags he saw were the ones with Wigan crests being lowered as the fans hurled abuse at the lino.  But the cheers from the Spurs fans, who probably made up about a quarter of the crowd rung out, as the home support was quietened by Tottenham's dominance.

Wigan hardly threatened in the first half, with only Rodellega's rising shot from the edge of the box being helped over by Gomes after 21 minutes.  By then, Spurs had a couple of free-kicks outside the box and rather than looking for Crouch's head, they had played them short to Defoe, who was crowded out for one and had a shot blocked for the other.  It is about time the management came up with some variation in dead ball situations, with Wigan almost getting caught out.

When David Bentley came inside, he tried his luck and had two shots at goal forcing saves from Kirkland, although neither was that difficult.  Spurs were closing down well, which is something they haven't done that well in recent matches, but they were also loose in their passing, allowing promising moves to break down.  The goal helped settle them a bit, but some niggle crept into the game, as the pitch started to break down.  Playing rugby on it might be a good stream of income for the Latics, but it left a river of rain and sleet and hail and snow making the pitch difficult to play on.  Perhaps Wiley was giving players the benefit of the doubt in making tackles, although that all seemed to go one way, as Bentley was booked for cutting across Figueroa after the Honduran defender had played the ball, but similar and worse tackles went unpunished.  Defoe was being bumped around by Caldwell, who is used dishing out that sort of treatment in the physical battle ground that is the SPL and when he held JD off once too often, the Spurs man jumped into a tackle on Figueroa.  It was a rash challenge, but he might have been saved form a card by the fact that he did get the ball, albeit with one leg wrapped around the defender's ankles.  Worthy of a yellow and not the red that the apoplectic home supporters wanted, Wiley made up for it when he waved the yellow card at Defoe when he ran out of the wall at a Wigan free-kick.

It fired up the Wigan support, who could now boo a pantomime villain, probably because it distracted them from having to watch their own side's problems laid bare on the mud-heap.  Lacking an idea of how to play to a single man up front, their crosses and forward passes were over-hit and when they tried to spread play they found the fans in the first few rows of the stands along the length of the pitch.  Playing a 4-5-1 formation to start with, Wigan suffered as Marcelo Moreno lacked any sort of pace.

The second half started with the same 22 who kicked off the match and the pitch looked as bad as ever, even though the groundsmen had spent half-time working vigorously on it.  With Spurs a goal up, it was a nervy time, because a late equaliser here last season earned Wigan a point, but how that would happen this time, with the home team fielding a negative set-up, I wasn't sure.  Corluka nearly got onto Crouch's header down at a corner, but Kirkland beat him to it, while Ledley King made an important interception at the other end, but jarred his leg as he went down and had to go off, being replaced by Sebastien Bassong.

Defoe was being roundly booed and didn't endear himself to the Athletic fans when he went down under challenge from Caldwell in the box, but he didn't appeal and neither did many of the Spurs players.  But when he was put through by Kranjcar, he should have finished better instead of leaving the keeper a chance to block his low shot from the right.  Just before, Gomes had his first threatening shot to save when a few passes around the face of the box left substitute Victor Moses with a sight of goal from the edge of the area, but the Brazilian got right behind it.

With Moses' arrival, the team saw the light and moved to a 4-4-2 system, which provided a bit more going forward, as Rodellega joined Moreno up front.  A series of passes around the box once more left Charles N'Zogbia with a shooting chance, but his execution of the effort saw it bend high over Gomes' bar rather than settling into the top corner of the net.  Spurs tried to counter this attacking change of formation by bringing on Luka Modric with 20 minutes to go.  The little Croatian might have got bogged down in the muddy middle of the park, but as the Wigan players tired from chasing shadows, Luka took centre stage.

His neat footwork produced a pass through to Defoe, who hit his shot too straight and Kirkland dealt with it competently, while his next dissection of the home defence saw Pavlyuchenko (now on for Defoe) run back from and offside position, but Crouch ran through on the pass and tried to shoot past Kirkland from inside the box, but failed to lift it over the goalie and he saved the shot.

Having been booked for a putting an arm across N'Zogbia and failing to stop him, Tom Huddlestone caught another Wigan player late on the foot and Wiley made a big show of talking to him about it.  It needed him to tread carefully, but that was not always possible in the slippery conditions.

A rare foray into the Spurs last third, saw the ball played out to McCarthy on the right corner of the Spurs box, from where he aimed a firm cross into the box, but it turned out to be more like a shot, as it was too close to Gomes, who spilled the ball and with substitute Scott Sinclair coming in, he had to try and block the return back into the box, but was helped out by Bassong.  Immediately, Spurs moved the play to the other end and Modric was at the hear tof the move, playing in Bentley on the right and the wide-man repaid the compliment by knocking it in the box to where Modric was to hit a shot that rebounded off the post and into the grateful arms of Kirkland, who hadn't moved form the spot where he stood.

It only delayed the inevitable, as Modric rode two tackles, fed the ball through to Pav on the edge of the box and he took the ball forward to be level with the penalty spot.  In the same movement, he stroked the ball past the keeper, who was coming out to meet him, to give Spurs the points with just six minutes left.  You could see how much the Russian enjoyed the goal and how much the Spurs fans did too !!

It was just left for Spurs to see out the remaining time, but they kept going forward and kept Wigan pushed back.  With a minute left of added on time, Spurs got a free-kick for another in a long line of fouls.  Huddlestone stood over it and again, it wasn't pumped into the box, but clipped into the right hand channel, where Pavlyuchenko got on the end of it and glanced a header at goal.  it was enough to surprise Kirkland, who could only block the effort out to the right of the goal and Pav was quick enough to react and beat Figueroa and Melchiot to it, allowing him to dink the ball into the near post for a third goal.  Cue eruption on and off the pitch, as that really did wrap up the points.

In the end, it was a comfortable win, but at 1-0 for so long, it could have led to the lead being siped away, but in truth Wigan rarely looked capable of doing so.  Their attack was thin, mainly because of the tactics employed and if they were trying some damage limitation after the 9-1 win, it worked.  However, it might well have damaged their chances of pulling clear of the danger zone and showed their limitations.  For Spurs, the way they played gives some hope of better times ahead, but the old question of consistency raises it's head and with Everton up next in a week's time, the dust will not have settled on the mid-week FA Cup replay, so the battle son two fronts will be tested over the coming seven days.

the polyphant


Fan Reaction : -



What a disgrace the Wigan pitch was today, almost matched by the referee Alan Wiley.

The pitch was out of the 1970s, with it cutting up and being heavy down the middle, but the referee was obviously suffering with something of a trip back into time ... when he reffed the last Man U game.  The first Spurs goal was embarrassingly off-side, while Defoe should have been booked for the tackle on Figueroa instead of rushing out of the wall.  Equally, Bentley's booking was a joke in a game that saw about 20 similar tackled which went unpunished.

People say Spurs got the run of the green (or brown in this case) with the first goal, but both Bentley and Defoe had been fouled in the build-up, so perhaps Wigan were the lucky ones, as that might have been two more of their players on yellow cards.  As it was Wiley let them get away with hitting Spurs players once the ball had gone, going in with high feet and generally preventing Crouch getting off the floor.  How Spurs ended with four bookings to their three I don't know.

But a good win and three points, which I hope will signal another good run.

marco van hip

While you never know how things might have turned out, Wigan's team contained a few players Spurs have been linked with over the recent months. 

Midfielder James McCarthy looked like he had some good touches, but they were swamped by the mud on the pitch and his petulant kick at Bentley brought him a booking after he had been fouled minutes before.  Victor Moses looked OK, but he will be in a team battling to fight the drop and might not get a real chance to shine, with Manuel Figueroa looking muscular, but with little finesse to his game.  N'Zogbia might be a decent player in a decent side, but the manager's tactics stifles his creativity.  Strange for one who believes in playing the game the right way.

So, as it is, I don't think there was one Wigan player who would get in the Spurs team on merit on this performance.  As for Spurs, they all put in a good display and while the hole performance needed to be sharpened up a bit, the overall effort applied was worthy of a win.

Having quality on the bench paid off in the end, so I hope Harry will use Roman a bit more now.

the funky phantom





Other League scores this weekend :
Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Everton 3 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Stoke City 2 Saturday
West Ham United 3 Hull City 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Aston Villa 5 Burnley 2 Sunday
Fulham 2 Birmingham City 1 Sunday
Blackburn Rovers 3 Bolton Wanderers 0 Sunday
Manchester City 0 Liverpool 0 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 27 19 4 4 63 22 61 +41
2 Manchester United 26 18 3 6 63 24 57 +39
3 Arsenal 27 17 4 6 63 30 55 +33
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 27 13 7 7 48 26 46 +22
5 Manchester City 26 12 10 4 48 33 46 +15
6 Liverpool 27 13 6 8 43 27 45 +16
7 Aston Villa 26 12 9 5 37 21 44 +16
8 Everton 26 10 8 8 38 37 38 +1
9 Fulham 27 10 7 10 32 29 37 +3
10 Birmingham City 26 9 7 9 25 24 37 +1
11 Stoke City 26 8 10 8 26 29 34 -3
12 Blackburn Rovers 27 9 7 11 29 43 34 -14
13 West Ham United 26 6 9 11 35 40 27 -3
14 Sunderland 25 6 8 11 29 41 26 -12
15 Wigan Athletic 26 6 7 13 26 52 25 -26
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 26 6 6 13 21 44 24 -23
17 Hull City 27 5 9 13 25 54 24 -29
18 Bolton Wanderers 26 5 8 13 29 49 23 -20
19 Burnley 26 6 5 15 27 55 23 -28
20 Portsmouth 26 4 4 18 21 44 16 -23


Position before the match :  7th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th

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