Wigan Athletic 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

26 Sep

So, I have been slower than rocks, only just getting around to writing about this game two days after it happened. I don’t know why I’m bothering at this point, it’s more for me than it is for you quite frankly.

I didn’t go up to wigan, but did get to see the game live, which tells you how useful the internet can be, although various commitments did mean I couldn’t pay 100% attention, unfortunately.

I hate footballing clichés, one of the worst being ‘it’s a game of two halves’, frustratingly though, cliché or not, you can’t avoid the truth. The first half saw Spurs carrying on the form we saw in the Liverpool game. Utter nomination is an understatement and I watched on thinking about whether my suggestion of another 9-1 drubbing really was out of the question. The first goal, created by Adebayor and tucked away by van der Vaart was classic Spurs, with Adebayor doing the job we all wish our forwards could have done last year; the second a corner from Modrić and a flicked header from Bale was another goal we need to see more of. The first signs that it may not go all our way and that we might be in for a tougher time was a couple of unfortunate, but glaring misses. Adebayor should have converted his near post shot from a Kyle Walker cross, while some over-complication and lack of incisiveness in the Wigan box meant other openings were not capitalised upon. Going in at half time with a dominant 2-0 advantage meant the game was going to go one of two ways.

Wigan are a tough proposition at home and despite many pundits suggesting they may stuggle, I still see them as lower mid-table candidates rather than relegation battlers as long as they retain Martinez. They proved their bottle and quality at home coming out of the blocks as quickly as Spurs had at the start of the previous half. With 5 minutes of the second half played they had their reward. Assou-Ekotto, characteristically nonchalant, but uncharacteristically wayward passed the ball forward on the edge of the box and found only the boot of Ronnie Stam, the man brought on at the break for Wigan. The ball skewed up and from Ledley’s head found it’s way to Diame, who despite his lack of goals for Wigan expertly picked his way through the Spurs defence sheilding the ball before unleashing his shot through the gap he’d manufactured for himself. It was unfortunate that we didn’t manage to chalk up another clean sheet, with Brad in a spell of consistent good form, but these things will happen. I have to admit, I think Gomes might have reached that one, but Brad provides a level of assurance amongst the defence that Gomes has never achieved.

With the score at 2-1 it looked as though we could end up allowing the lead to slip entirely. Eventually The Wigan Right Back, Gouhouri fell into the same trap that caught out Martin Skrtel last week and managed to pick up 2 yellows and an early bath for his trouble. When Bale is in this kind of form, with his explosive and powerful runs, defenders without sufficient protection simply can’t live with him. The only downside is Bale does pick up injuries and the way he ends up on the floor, grimacing and thumping the pitch is becoming an all to familiar sight. If you’re hurt, fine, if not, please don’t make such a big deal about it.

In the end we held out, with Kaboul twice having opportunities from corners and hitting the crossbar with one of his thunderous free-kicks; 2-1 seems a fair result. In reality we have lessons to learn. Games are not won until the final whistle blows and whether that’s playing keep-ball against Liverpool or becoming complacent in games like this, we need to apply the killer instinct for 90 minutes, especially while the tanks are full at this stage of the season.

Spurs’ Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 7.5
Assured and although another keeper might have got down to save the Diame goal, you just know what you’re going to get with this fella between the sticks.

Kyle Walker 7.5
Marauding runs up the right-wing are becoming a trademark and very useful with Lennon out. When he took the ball past a man and played a fantastic cross for Adebayor’s chance, he really showed what he’s capable of going forward.

Ledley King 8
The term Rolls Royce is becoming ever more frequently bandied about to describe this man. He’s no Lamborghini, but he’s the footballing equivalent of the car you keep locked up until the weekend and then take outr for a drive. Perhaps the equivalent of an old roller, the epitome of style and comfort. Perhaps sometimes the reliability will let you down, but as long as it’s driving you won’t find any better.

Younès Kaboul 8
I’m still blown away by this guy’s progress. I can tell you now, with a completely clear conscience, I was one of those who never wanted him to leave, although he had much to learn he always had it in him to be a top defender. Thank god Harry brought him back, because he’s starting to show it now.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto 7
Cool as a cucumber.

Scott Parker 8.5
Just did everything that was asked of him with the minimum of fuss and maximum effort, I am still disappointed he never found his way to White Hart Lane sooner, hopefully one day he too will admit choosing the likes of Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham over us in the past were mistakes.

Luka Modrić 8.5 (mom)
What can you say about this guy? He might not always have the most obvious influence, he doesn’t make the searing runds or have the locker full of tricks, but he is just one of those guys who makes stuff happen. I am so glad he’s still at the club and desperately hope we can do what is required to make him want to stay; whatever that may be, not only for him, but fo all of us, a club that Modrić 

Sandro 8
Played well and could really strike up a partnership with Scott Parker, opening up the possibility of a 4-2-3-1 formation, which worked so well for Man City against us.

Gareth Bale 8
His runs drew the fouls that took Wigan down to 10 men, this is the sort of form that makes him unplayable, more of this will maintain his threat and keep Spurs in the goals. My only criticism is he keeps shooting from the left. It worked for him against Inter Milan, but his shooting angle is often tighter and the cross would be more likely to yield a goal with unmarked runners making their way into the box.

Rafael van der Vaart 8
Picked up an injury, suggesting he may have rushed himself back, it typifies the guy’s heart and dedication though.

Emmanuel Adebayor 8.5
He set up the first goal, but missed his own chance. He also played on with an eye injury, helping to dispel fears that he is something of a mercinary or may wish only to play when it suits him to do so (i.e. not playing on when injured risking further problems). What I am trying to say is, well done for the bloke for sticking with it, with no alternatives available.

Sub ’78: Giovani Dos Santos 6.5
Replaced van der Vaart, Gio deserves to have a couple of chances, especially if he’s knuckling down, he didn’t have long to make an impact, but he ‘ran about a bit’, which will always please Harry.

Sub ’90: Jake Livermore 6
Replaced King, unfortunate for him that the purchase of Scott Parker has curtailed his run in the first 11. He didn’t have time to make an impact, but he will get chances to shine this season.

Referee

Jon Moss is not a referee I am familiar with, however, he didn’t flash too many yellows and still made the big sending off decision and got it right. 8

1,360

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