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Premier League

Sunday 22nd November 2009

As Roberto Martinez tries to make his style fit the Wigan Athletic team, the results are erratic and the new players are melding into the side, making any prediction of how they will perform a difficult task.

As Spurs would be looking to consolidate their fourth place, the football in recent weeks (before the international break) has not been up to some of the early season form, but the stifling tactics of teams that visit White Hart Lane have to be broken down and the array of attacking talent at Tottenham must make more of their abilities to do so.  The long ball to Peter Crouch does not always bring the reward it is hoped and the absence of the two little creators Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric have made the side a less fluent outfit.

Wigan will still carry the hard working ethic of former manager Steve Bruce, but the more skilful approach advocated by Martinez will see them attempt to play a more expansive game, with the strength and pace of Hugo Rodallega the focus point of their attack.

Without the jailed Marlon King, Wigan's options up front are somewhat limited.  Dutchman Daniel De Ridder, who also interested Spurs when he was at Ajax, is a talented, but sometimes frustrating wide man and former Swansea City and Trinidad and Tobago striker Jason Scotland is yet to find his best form in the top flight.  A strong runner with the ball and good at holding it up, he would benefit from the tricky De Ridder finding some space to feed him the opportunities he would thrive on.

However, it is more likely that the midfield will consist of Charles N'Zogbia, Hendry Thomas, Mohammed Diame and Jordi Gomez.  With N'Zogbia a mercurial talent, who fails to perform regularly to a high standard, he did catch the eye of the Spurs management before he left Newcastle United, but his choice to join Wigan was no doubt swayed by the chance to play regular first team football.  He is quick and good with the ball at his feet and can open up defences, as can Gomez, who came to prominence in the Championship under Martinez at Swansea.  A good passer and good from free-kicks, he may need to step up the energy levels in the Premiership to make a similar impact.  On loan from Chelsea (as he was at Plymouth Argyle and Birmingham City), Scott Sinclair is capable of taking on a team on his own with his dribbling ability, but often his decision making in passing lets him down.  A good finisher, he is an athletic, box-to-box player who can commit defenders.  Approaching veteran status, Jason Koumas is still an astute passer and has a good cross in his locker, but is amore irregular starter these days, as is Olivier Kapo, who has fallen out with Steve Bruce twice and now appears to have dropped out of the first team reckoning.  South Korean midfielder Won-Hee Cho is a new name to me and he has only made a couple of appearances this season for the Latics.

One of the problems for the side from the DW stadium is the defence, which conceded four to Portsmouth when they were struggling to hit the net against anyone.  Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has failed to realise the early promise his career offered and although he does make the impressive stop, his positioning and decision making is often faulty, leading to him conceding too easily.  While Titus Bramble seems to have been making a bit of a resurgence under Martinez, his errors are often highlighted more often than his assets and alongside him Emmerson Boyce is a similar player, who is athletic and strong, but sometimes is suspect to a pacy opponent.  It is good to see former Spur Erik Edman back to rude health and playing again.  A no nonsense defender, Erik likes to get forward on the overlap and his ability to strike a ball cleanly makes him a danger should he get within shooting range (which, for him, will be anywhere 40 yards from goal !).  Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot has also been played in midfield this season, but his pace is not what it once was and he relies on his reading of the game to counter this.  Austrian Paul Scharner was another linked with Tottenham in the summer, but it looked like a transfer window rumour and his performances in the heart of the defence and up front have marked him out as a versatile player.  However, it is questionable as to where his best position is and even when at the back, he is a player who needs to be watched at set-pieces.  Spanish defender Antonio Amaya is another new signing, who Martinez brought in during the summer window and I am not sure about the ability of the former Rayo Vallecano player.

With Tottenham being without their more creative midfielders, it may fall to Tom Huddlestone's passing to open up the Wigan defence and the ability of Wigan to get results against Chelsea and Manchester City cannot be under-estimated.  However, they have crashed big style against Arsenal, Pompey and Manchester United, as well as losing to Hull City.  Not that it means a lot, as this game will be something different again.  For Spurs, the quality of the ball in to Defoe and Keane will be crucial and should Crouch be brought on, the use of his height should not just be reliant on playing high balls up to him.  It may be that some players are introduced to shake things up a bit, but whoever plays, it will need a degree of application to ensure the home side have the right to play the football they want.

Martinez will have watched Tottenham and will set out his team to stop the attacking qualities of Redknapp's eleven, but I take Spurs to edge the game ...

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 : -  Aaron Lennon (out - ankle), Luka Modric (out - broken leg); Giovani dos Santos (out - ankle); Sebastien Bassong (out - hamstring); Carlo Cudicini (out - broken wrist); - (-); 

WIGAN ATHLETIC :  -  Manuel Figueroa (out - knee); - (-); - (-); 


Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)  Also available online.
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
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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.




Tottenham Hotspur   9 (Nine)    Wigan Athletic   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 22nd November 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,650
Referee :  Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Chilly, windy and bright (until the sun went down)
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto  (19  Bassong 81)
39  Woodgate
20  Dawson
22  Corluka

  6  Huddlestone
21  Kranjcar      
12  Palacios  (  8  Jenas 84)
  Lennon     (  5  Bentley 79)

18  Defoe 
15  Crouch 

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  2  Hutton
10  Keane

Wigan Athletic :

  1  Kirkland    o.g.

  3  Edman
19  Bramble
17  Boyce
21  Melchiot  (  5 Cho 85)

  7  Scharner   
  6  Thomas  (15 Gomez 67)
27  Diame
14  N'Zogbia

  9  Scotland
20  Rodellega

Unused subs: 
12  Pollitt
31  Figueroa
10  Koumas
16  Sinclair

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Wigan Athletic
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Crouch 9
Defoe 51
Defoe 54
Defoe 58
Lennon 64
Defoe 69
Defoe 87
Kirkland (og) 88
Kranjcar 90+4

Wigan Athletic

Scharner  57

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Kranjcar (foul)    


Wigan Athletic



Match Report : -  
A devastating display of second half finishing saw Tottenham tear Wigan Athletic apart in a 9-1 demolition of a match at White Hart Lane.

A quick start by Spurs saw Aaron Lennon tuck up former Tottenham defender Erik Edman, who must have wished he was still injured, within the first minute and his low cross could not be converted at the far post by Peter Crouch.  However, the lanky striker did better on nine minutes, when he stooped to head past keeper Chris Kirkland as Lennon bent in a bouncing low cross from the right.

Spurs were rampant and Defoe crashed a shot over the top when Lennon was better placed and then another cross to Crouch at the far post saw the England striker's header knocked away from the mouth of the goal by Boyce, but it fell to Aaron, who smashed it at goal, but into Kirkland's midriff.

Defoe turned Titus Bramble inside out and struck a fierce shot coming in from the left, which Kirkland tipped over and a later run from a similar position saw Jermain fire a shot onto the crossbar.  In between, a good passing move lead to a ball being rolled in front of Tom Huddlestone 25 yards out and his first time low drive thudded into the advertising hoarding after missing the right hand post by inches.

The only real threat to the Tottenham goal came from a hasty Gomes throw out that was picked off and fed into Scotland, who turned his marker and put in a low shot that Heurelho turned around at his near post.  N'Zogbia did glance a shot off the top of the crossbar, but it was a hopeful effort rather than anything more pre-meditated than the goals that came in the second half.

The break came at a time when Wigan were hoping to get back into the match, but within a minute of the restart, Lennon crossed for Defoe to head at goal, but it was just over the top.  The winger's domination of the full-back on the Tottenham right was to be a feature of the second half ... well even more than it had been in the first, when, for some weird reason, he had moved to the left, without success.  Defoe was operating off the right hand side more in the second period and this was to pay dividends too.

Within five minutes of the second half kicking off, Lennon crossed for Defoe to get ahead of Bramble and strike a volley past Kirkland.  Within seven minutes he was doing the same to complete a hat-trick.  His goal in between came after a mix-up between Edman and Boyce let Defoe through on goal and he finished clinically past Kirkland.  Two more goals were to come Jermain's way and were from moves in the same vein as he was fed through on the right by Kranjcar and Corluka, both times beating Kirkland with ease.

Wigan briefly thought they had got back in the game, when a good move found Rodallega on the left and his cross went over Woodgate, leaving Scharner unmarked in the penalty area.  Obviously, he is a keen student of French international football and seeing how they score their goals, decided that if he stopped the ball with his arm before rifling past Gomes and Woodgate on the line, he would get away with it and thankfully for him, the inept Walton allowed the goal to stand.

Not that it mattered, as Defoe hit the back of the Wigan net within a minute with one of his numerous goals.  Aaron Lennon got the goal his four assists deserved, when Crouch held the ball up just inside the box and then poked it out to the right for the winger to thread a shot through the penalty box to hit the inside of the net on the opposite side of the goal.

As time went on, it looked more and more likely that Tottenham would score with every effort they had.  Crouch had been denied a goal when Kirkland threw himself in the way of a header form Kranjcar's cross and Defoe was played through by Corluka again, but was squeezed out for once.

It was a foul on substitute David Bentley that brought about the eighth Tottenham goal, as David Bentley stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall and against the bar, only for the ball to bounce back off the back of Kirkland's head and into the net.

With time running out and with Wigan praying for the final whistle, it did not sound until the ref had blown it one last time to signal a Spurs goal.  Bentley got the ball inside the box and poked it through a defender's legs to Niko Kranjcar, who capped a fine performance with a first time shot that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Wigan hit for nine in an amazing performance.

While Wigan are hardly among the top sides in the table, on their day they can get results like their win over Chelsea and draw against Manchester City.  But they can lose 0-4 to Arsenal and Portsmouth.  Before the game, we wondered which Wigan would turn up.  In the end neither did and I guess the Latics fans wished they hadn't either.

the funky phantom


Fan Reaction : -



To read Wyart Lane's view of the big win at the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone, click here.





Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Burnley 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Chelsea 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Hull City 3 West Ham United 3 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2 Saturday
Manchester United 3 Everton 0 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Blackburn Rovers 2 Sunday
Stoke City 1 Portsmouth 0 Sunday
Other scores this mid-week :
Hull City 3 Everton 2 Wednesday
Fulham 3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 13 11 0 2 33 8 33 +25
2 Manchester United 14 10 1 3 29 12 31 +17
3 Arsenal 12 8 1 3 36 15 25 +21
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 13 8 1 4 32 18 25 +14
5 Aston Villa 13 6 4 3 21 13 22 +8
6 Manchester City 12 5 6 1 23 16 21 +7
7 Liverpool 13 6 2 5 29 20 20 +9
8 Sunderland 13 6 2 5 21 19 20 +2
9 Stoke City 13 5 4 4 13 15 19 -2
10 Fulham 13 5 3 5 17 15 18 +2
11 Burnley 13 5 2 6 16 26 17 -10
12 Blackburn Rovers 14 5 2 7 16 28 16 -12
13 Birmingham City 13 4 3 6 11 14 15 -3
14 Everton 14 4 3 7 17 26 15 -9
15 Hull City 14 4 3 7 16 30 15 -14
16 Wigan Athletic 13 4 2 7 14 31 14 -17
17 West Ham United 13 2 5 6 19 23 11 -4
18 Bolton Wanderers 12 3 2 7 15 26 11 -11
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 2 4 7 12 26 10 -14
20 Portsmouth 13 2 1 10 10 19 7 -9


Position before the weekend :  4th
Position after the match :  5th
Position after the weekend :   4th


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