BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER, 2011
WIGAN ATHLETIC 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Van der Vaart, 3
Referee:- Mr. J. Moss
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. A. Halliday
Fourth Official:- Mr. P. Dowd
Wigan (4-1-4-1):- Al Habsi; Gohouri, Caldwell (Capt.), Figueroa, Van Aanholt; Watson (sub McArthur, 73); Moses, McCarthy, Gomez (sub Stam, 46), Diame; Di Santo (sub Sammon, 73)
Subs not used:- Kirkland; Maloney, Jones; Crusat
Booked:- Gohouri (foul on Bale), McCarthy (foul on Parker), Sammon (foul on Parker)
Sent off:- Gohouri, 62 (foul on Bale – second yellow card)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro (sub Livermore, 90), Bale; Van der Vaart (sub Giovani, 78), Adebayor
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong; Carroll, Townsend
Booked:- Adebayor (Dissent)
We should have murdered them!
A win is a win, and a third consecutive league win takes Spurs up to sixth place in the table with a game in hand on all bar Everton, but after taking control in the early stages and cementing that command with two goals in the first 23 minutes, Spurs really should have won in more positive fashion. Wigan manager Roberto Martinez obviously worked the oracle on his charges at half-time, and the home side came out with much more desire and application, getting a goal back within 5 minutes of the re-start. For much of the second half, Spurs were on the back foot, and that was despite right back Steve Gohouri getting his marching orders with half an hour left for a second bookable offence against Gareth Bale.
There had been rumours before the game that Adebayor might not be fit, but he was present. However, it was his strike partner Jermain Defoe who was missing, with an infection. Adebayor was partnered by Van der Vaart, but the midfield looked a little unbalanced, with Modric nominally on the right and Sandro making a league return, next to Parker. Bale played down the left side. Modric did have some freedom of movement, which left right back Kyle Walker licence to attack freely down the right flank. Ledley King was a welcome presence, playing for the third time in consecutive league games – a rare occurrence indeed. We had been advised that Ekotto was doubtful, but he was present at left back. Ledley was partnered by Younes Kaboul.
As usual, Wigan were unable to fill their ground, but there were a good 4,000+ Spurs fans filling the North Stand. Wigan were missing the injured Rodallega, and played Di Santo up front, with a 4 man supporting midfield, protected by Ben Watson in front of the defence. Spurs put the home side on the back foot from the start, with Walker sending over a dangerous cross that resulted in an attacking throw. The home crowd were then silenced as early as the third minute, when Figueroa presented the ball to Adebayor, who worked his way towards the left side of the defence, and might have taken on responsibility for a shot himself. However, Adebayor passed the ball back to Van der Vaart in a more central position, an Rafa beat Al Habsi’s right hand with a killer left foot shot for his first league goal of the season.
Spurs didn’t let up, and Walker was attacking with gusto, getting to the bye-line, before cutting the ball back for Adebayor, who fired over. Friedel wasn’t idle, and had to make a decent low save from a Gomez free kick, after Sandro had committed a potentially expensive foul just outside the left of the penalty area. After 15 minutes, with Walker still advancing at will, Bale crossed from the left and Kyle had a header just wide.
Spurs kept the pressure up and went two up in the 23rd minute from a corner on the right, taken by Modric and headed home by Bale with a glancing touch from the near post. It was all looking so easy! Gohouri got his first booking for a foul on Bale, who was subsequently sent away by Adebayor’s ball, before entering the area and hitting a shot that Al Habsi saved and saw cleared as the ball ran in front of him, with no other Spurs player near. Al Habsi made a good save from an Adebayor shot five minutes before the break.
Martinez replaced Gomez with Stam at half-time, and Wigan attacked the Spurs half with relish, keeping us on the back foot. You wouldn’t have thought we were two goals to the good, and of course that didn’t last long, as the Wigan pressure led to a poor bit of defending by Ekotto, with the ball going to a central position outside the area, and being passed to Diame who was allowed too much space as he moved to the right before beating Friedel to his right, with a right footed shot.
Spurs did manage a bit of pressure after Al Habsi saved from Adebayor, and we then had three consecutive corners, which were defended successfully. Gohouri got that second yellow card as Bale was breaking away down the left flank, having been sent clear by a good ball from the ever-industrious Scott Parker, who has settled in so well. Substitute Stam was moved back to cover the absence, but the irony is that for most of the remainder of the game, Bale played out on the right hand side, instead of exploiting the absence of a right back.
Now that the difference was just one goal, Spurs never looked comfortable for the remainder of the game, although there were times when they put the home side under more pressure and should have stretched their lead. Bale fed Ekotto from a central position, and Benoit had a shot blocked, before he appeared to be fouled. Referee Jon Moss was having none of it. Mr Moss is a relatively new referee at this level, and his last Premier League game was also at Wigan, and also a 2-1 home defeat (to Aston Villa in January).
Modric and Van der Vaart got the ball into dangerous positions in a central area, but could not muster a shot between them. A Spurs corner taken by Van der Vaart was headed onto the roof of the net by Kaboul in front of the Spurs crowd, who initially thought they had another goal. Parker was carrying the ball forward well for Spurs, and invited fouls which drew the Wigan offenders deserved yellow cards. Van der Vaart was replaced by Giovani, who managed a run to the bye-line down the right channel, cutting the ball back to Modric, whose shot was too weak, and easy for Al Habsi. It looked as if Ekotto might have got away with a handball as he carried the ball and fed Bale on the right shot. Bale couldn’t get a shot on goal on this occasion.
Spurs had a free kick just outside the box after 83 minutes, and both Modric and Parker touched the ball for Kaboul to try a shot, which was deflected onto the bar and went out for a corner. At the other end, James McArthur had a terrific 40 yard effort, but Friedel was alert to the attempt on his goal, and held the ball well.
The report does not tell of many direct Wigan chances, but the frustration for those Spurs fans present was that we should have won by a greater margin, and that Wigan did put us under some pressure at times in the second half, which caused us some concern with that one goal difference.
I don’t suppose that many of this team will play in next Thursday’s Europa League game against Shamrock Rovers, but the game we are licking our lips over is next Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, who we can rightfully feel hopeful about beating to keep below us in the table for the foreseeable future! I can’t wait!
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