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Wigan v Spurs, 02.04.11

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 2ND APRIL, 2011
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)

Attendance:- 18,578

Referee:- Mr. A. Marriner
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. S. Ledger
Fourth official:- Jon Moss - Not as per programme (Mark Halsey was at Elland Road)

Teams:-
Wigan (4-2-3-1):- Al Habsi; Boyce, G. Caldwell (Capt.), Alcaraz, Figueroa; McCarthy, Watson; Moses (sub Sammon, 66), N’ Zogbia (sub Di Santo, 85), Cleverley; Rodallega (sub Diame, 85)

Subs not used:- Pollitt; Gohouri, Stam, Gomez

Booked:- Caldwell (foul on Sandro)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson (Capt.), Bassong, Ekotto; Van der Vaart (sub Lennon, 68), Jenas, Sandro, Modric (sub Kranjcar, 85); Pavlyuchenko, Defoe (sub Crouch, 57)

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Huddlestone, Rose, Pienaar

Booked:- Sandro

Spurs firing blanks again

In a disappointing game, and with a below par and therefore disappointing performance, Spurs once again failed to beat a team not only in the bottom three, but sitting at the bottom of the Premier League. No doubt those who were chosen for Spurs did have plenty of Champions league football in their eye, but it is a sad fact to report that Wigan bothered Heurelho Gomes far more than Spurs tested Al Habsi in the home goal. Jermain Defoe must wait still longer for his 100th Premier League goal, as Spurs drew a third consecutive game 0-0, a third consecutive Premier League game (against the current bottom three), and failed to win for the fourth league game in a row. They haven’t managed a league win since February 12th at Sunderland. That is not Champions League form.

We expected some players to be absent today, either through genuine injury (Bale, Gallas, Hutton), or being rested with Tuesday’s game in Madrid in mind (Aaron Lennon). We probably did not expect both van der Vaart and Modric to start, and we might have expected some genuine width in the starting line-up. What we got was Van der Vaart nominally on the right, turning up in deep areas, as always, and also supporting the attack, and Luka Modric working his socks off all over the place, offering some good support to Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was kept on the leash at the back, while others bore any attacking responsibility. Sandro was impressive in the middle and occasionally he would turn up on the right wing to support an attack. He was partnered by Jermaine Jenas in the middle, who did okay, but whenever he was on the ball, probably spent too long before making his decision regarding disposal.

Wigan were well organised and quite adventurous, with Rodallega the lone striker, but getting support from Moses, N’Zogbia and Cleverley behind him, with McCarthy and Watson also happy to support the attack. The home players were soon able to get behind the ball and defend stoutly against any Spurs attacks. The game very rarely excited, and for the first 10 minutes there was no action of note, as Spurs surrendered too much possession and territory to Wigan. Wigan did seem to be suffering some dramatic injuries with both Boyce and Figueroa early writhing casualties, who stopped the flow of the game.

N’Zogbia had the first effort on goal, but fired wide after a free kick after 10 minutes. Corluka sent a great ball down the left from deep for Pavlyuchenko, and with Sandro forward in support, Spurs looked promising in an attack that sadly just fizzled out. A poor clearance by Bassong led to a chance for Figueroa, getting forward, but thankfully shooting off target, as did most of the Wigan players during the game. Defoe slipped a nice ball to Pavlyuchenko who went down under a challenge inside the box, but Mr Marriner was not impressed, although Spurs did not appeal strongly anyway. A minute later, Defoe was on the left and fed the ball Defoe to Jenas, who had a shot that was deflected then parried by Al Habsi, with a white shirt advancing. The ball ran clear. Sandro made an intelligent run down the right to help out Corluka, and it was Sandro’s ball to the near post that Defoe tried to convert, but failed as the goalie was able to collect. Moses had a shot go wide at the other end.

Sandro did lose out in a fight for the ball with N’Zogbia, and once again Moses fired well wide. A half clearance by Spurs reached McCarthy, who also fired wide. Van der Vaart started a finished a move after 38 minutes. He started with the ball on the left flank, and his shot from a central position was saved after a cross from the right.

Gomes had to make the hardest and most important save of the match soon after the re-start when N’Zogbia got inside the box and fired a low shot from the right. Two minutes later it was Moses threatening Gomes’ goal, and the keeper could only parry this shot, which thankfully was cleared. Gomes also got a fingertip to a rocket shot by Cleverley, conceding a corner. Ten minutes into the half and Spurs had not forced a decent attack to speak of. Defoe was replaced by Crouch, who did win a few headers and got some on target, but without power, and without threat. Crouch had a half chance after Pavlyuchenko touched on a ball down the middle, before Crouch fired over the bar.

Now Van der Vaart was substituted, and this time he stayed to watch the game from the bench, no doubt assured of a start on Tuesday, and probably behind Crouch. Wigan captain Gary Caldwell got a yellow card for cruelly bringing a promising run by Sandro to an unfair end. Corluka crossed for Crouch whose header was deflected for a corner. Crouch wanted handball, to no avail, and Modric’s corner was cleared. Modric and Jenas combined for another Crouch effort but it was headed high and quite wide.

Gomes had more work to do three minutes before the end, saving a good shot from substitute Sammon. Despite four minutes of added time, Spurs could not break through, and in fact spent most of that period on the defensive.

With Liverpool losing at West Brom, we are firmly established in fifth place, but that looks more and more likely to be our finishing position, although both Chelsea and Man City do remain within reach, especially as we have to play both teams. The trouble is of course, that we’ve demonstrated enough problems beating low placed teams, never mind fellow challengers for the Champions League. Never mind, we’re off the Madrid for the Champions League, and “We’re ‘aving a larf”

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