Looking Forward

 

Wigan Athletic  (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 26th November 2005

Wigan have surprised everyone since getting promoted tot he top flight for the first time.  The organisation that Paul Jewell has formulated with his side is their strength, but they can play and from a sound defensive base, they open up the game with some good passing from midfield.  

Goalkeepers Mike Pollitt and John Filan both have plenty of lower league experience and although Pollitt spent most fo his previous career at Rotherham, Filan has some top flight experience with Blackburn Rovers.  Both are solid if not spectacular goalies and have their faults, with goals being put down to their positioning.  Spurs might be able to exploit this, with player sable to put the ball exactly where they want.

The defence selected from Pascal Chimbonda, Stephane Henchoz, Arjan De Zeeuw, Ryan Taylor, Leighton Baines and Matt Jackson has been one of the strong points.  Veteran Jackson played for Norwich and Luton in the old days of the Div 1/Premier League, but has been sidelined by the emergence of the defensive four as the rock on which their success is built.  De Zeeuw returned from Portsmouth and along with Henchoz in the middle fo the defence, has given them a strong spine.  Both have experience in the Prem, if not the fastest of foot, they use their experience in their head to pick off attacking situations.  Chimbonda has been a player who has caught the eye too, with his athleticism allowing him to get forward in attacking situations, with pace to get back and defend taking up good positions to deny scoring opportunities.  He is a potent weapon at set-pieces too.
The full backs Baines and Taylor are young and pacy, who can get the ball in from the flanks for the forwards and their forward progress will need to be intercepted.

Another ex-Norwich man Damien Francis has added running and strength to the midfield, where he complements hard running Jimmy Bullard, creator and nippy Henri Camara, wily passer and fierce shooting Graham Cavanagh and mercurial Alan Mahon.  Mahon has not been a regular starter, but has a neat trick or two and fires in a hard shot, while Camara makes darting runs on the blind side, as he showed when he got between Campbell and Toure in last week's game against Arsenal.  He will need to be watched very carefully.  Bullard also scored a fine goal against the Gooners, with his curling shot and he has non-stop energy to get up and down the right hand side.  Cavanagh is the Republic of Ireland international who has been around for years, but has retained a fine array of passes and is a good exponent of the dead-ball situation.  He might not be as full of running as he used to be, but he still gets stuck in and will be a pivotal player in the Wigan midfield.

Up front, the muscular Jason Roberts has done it for West Bromwich Albion in the PL and with Wolves and Bristol Rovers lower down the leagues.  He has a good perception of space and knows where the goal is to be a regular scorer, so it will need Ledley King to be strong against him, as he will try to rough up the Spurs central defenders.  Former West Ham and Leicester striker David Connolly is a good partner with a knack for hitting goals from all angles in a little and large partner with Roberts.  He has not been a first choice, as he has been passed over for Lee McCulloch to take the shirt and the big man has responded by scoring a few goals.  Tall and mobile, his movement will keep Tottenham defenders on their toes.

Having lost to Arsenal last week, it will be a test for Wigan as to how they bounce back, but it will also be a game that Spurs need to do well in after losing to Bolton and drawing with West Ham.  Creating and taking goal sis a bit of a problem at the moment, so not only a good performance, but also some attacking intent will need to be demonstrated by Tottenham to prove they can stay in the race for a European place.

With Defoe returned to the starting line-up in place of the out of sorts Keane, alongside Wayne Routledge on the right wing to give Aaron Lennon a rest, Spurs might start to replicate some of their pre-season form and the pace of the wide men will provide a useful attacking option away from home.  While it will be a tough test for Spurs, the chances to take the points must be crafted and if they can, they can do well at the JJB stadium ...

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.

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

WIGAN ATHLETIC :  Steve McMillan (hamstring); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Mounir El Hamdaoui (shoulder); Dean Marney (Achilles); Goran Bunjevcevic (broken toe); - (-); 

Coverage

TV :
Saturday 22.30-23.40  Match of the Day - BBC One  (Highlights)
Saturday 20.35  Football First (full match) - Sky Digital
Sunday 07.45- 09.00  Match of the Day - BBC One  (Highlights) (repeat)
Sunday 11.00 Goals on Sunday - Sky Sports 1 (highlights)
Sunday 22.30-23.30   Match of the Day 2 - BBC Two  (Highlights)
FOX Soccer Channel (US)  -  Nov 28 3pm ET/12noon PT  (2-day delay)
FOX Sports World Canada  -  Nov 28 3pm ET/12noon PT  (2-day delay)
FOX Sports en Espanol  -  Nov 28 3pm ET/12noon PT  (2-day delay)
For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC Radio London - 

If available on BBC radio, it can be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Syndey)  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
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Carribean)  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 :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs-pl04-kean0.ram (free - only available when match is on)

 

                Wi

Wigan Athletic   1    Tottenham Hotspur   2      (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League Venue :   JJB Stadium
Saturday 26th November 2005 Kick Off :  15.00 p.m.
Crowd :   22,611 Referee :   Mike Riley (Leeds)
Weather :   Bright, but very cold
Teams : - 
Wigan Athletic

Pollitt

Chimbonda
Henchoz
De Zeeuw
Baines

Bullard
Kavanagh (c)
Francis (Connolly 68)
McCulloch

Roberts
Camara

Unused Subs : 
Filan
Jackson
Mahon
Taylor

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson

Stalteri
King (c)
Dawson
Lee

Davids
Jenas
Carrick
Tainio

Keane
Mido

Unused subs: 
Cerny
Kelly
Brown
Lennon
Defoe

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Wigan Athletic Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Wigan Athletic

McCulloch 88

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 8
Davids 77

Cards : -  
Wigan Athletic

    

   

     

Tottenham Hotspur

   
Davids (foul) 45
Stalteri (time-wasting) 90

     

Match Report : -  
A win over second place Wigan has put Spurs back on track after a series of dropped points, but it had to be earned and it showed that apart from becoming more consistent, the Tottenham side of today is able to graft for results against sides we would traditionally have been vulnerable to.

Wigan's physical approach was surprising let go by the referee, but it did not distract Spurs from their purpose in the chilly conditions of the JJB stadium.  The minute's silence in respect for the recent deceased George Best was well observed and there was a great noise that came from the Tottenham Hotspur contingent when the match started.

Even though the home side roared at Spurs from the kick off, winning two corners in the first two minutes, the away section made their voices heard.  The corners tested Spurs and keeper Paul Robinson, who had suffered a couple of dodgy moments in recent matches.  However, with King and Dawson towering in front of him, the Spurs goalie was well-protected and had little to do in the first half.  Kavanagh fired a shot over the top from 25 yards out, but it was Tottenham who took the early initiative, against the run of play.  When Tainio hit a long pass through into the Wigan half, it looked certain that De Zeeuw would clear it up, but the ball bounced away from his midriff to Robbie Keane, who touched the ball past Pollitt and shot into an open net to give Tottenham the lead.  Only eight minutes had passed and it would be a test of the team's learning from the previous week when they conceded an equaliser after going ahead early on.

Although Keane made Pollitt rush to the edge of his area to thwart him shortly after the goal when Mido's back-heel nearly put him in, it was Michael Dawson who set the standard for others to follow, with some fine aerial challenges, well-timed tackles and some determined blocking to prevent the ball getting as far as his goalkeeper.  McCulloch had a firm header just off target when he should have done better and Camara mis-hit a shot when well placed in the box, but Spurs moved up the other end and forced a couple of corners, but they come to nothing.  The general quality of crossing from both sides was poor and the defenders were able to head them clear on most occasions.  

Kavanagh was always keen to try his luck from distance and struck a 30-yarder over Robbo's crossbar, while it looked like Keane might extend the lead on 33 minutes, but his shot was held by Pollitt although, more relevantly, Henchoz was falling all over the Irish striker and Spurs were unlucky not to have been given a spot-kick to add a second.  Davids, who supplied the pass for Keano's effort a minute earlier, was trying to get in on the act and his 30-yard rising drive showed why he hadn't scored for Tottenham.  Luckily for Spurs, Kavanagh's shooting was no better as he lashed another shot from a short fee-kick well wide.  

Once more in Lancashire, Ledley King was getting trampled all over ... quite literally on one occasions by Roberts - as he was getting little change out of our captain.  The ref let it all go, but in injury time booked Davids for a late challenge on Camara.  Celebrity status definitely has it's drawbacks.

Baines hit a free-kick that bounced off Roberts' back and went safely wide before the half-time whistle sounded.  The break brought to the end a half that had seen Tottenham push on after scoring and although Wigan had some shots on goal, they were all from distance and Jenas tried his luck from fully 35 yards at the other end without any greater accuracy.

How Lee McCulloch got away with persistent fouling, I will never know, but one on Jenas out on the right earned Spurs a free-kick, which Carrick played to Tainio on the far post.  The Finn took the ball down and hit a shot that Pollitt turned away for a corner.  The next time Tottenham attacked, Pollitt was picking the ball out of the net.  A move that started down in Tottenham's left back position saw Lee, Tainio and Carrick work the ball up to Keane and he touched it off to Davids, still inside his own half.  Breaking forward with the ball, with Hanchoz taken out of the game on the halfway line, the Wigan players backed off and he got to the edge of the box.  Mido ran across him, leaving De Zeeuw in two minds about who to go with and this left Edgar with the opportunity to go past him as he stumbled and drill a low shot on goal that went through Pollitt to give Spurs the vital second goal they had been seeking.

With Wigan desperate to get back into the match, the next ten minutes consisted of a flow of fouls and free-kicks leaving no discernable pattern to the game.  When a long ball was played down the right hand side of the Tottenham area, Camara took it down well and around Dawson to hit a low shot from a narrow angle.  Robinson did well to palm it out to the far post, but it fell to McCulloch with no Spurs player near him and he side-footed into an empty net to give the Latics a lifeline.

The home side's frantic efforts produced only one more effort on goal, with Bullard skying his shot and Spurs players punched the air with relief when the final whistle went.  Having dropped points in draws with Man U, Arsenal and West Ham, the three points were important to get back to winning ways.

It was a tough game, but one in which Spurs played some controlled football on a pitch that cut up badly and did well to counter the direct Wigan style.  With some games against teams near the bottom of the table coming up, it is imperative that the same grit is shown and that complacency does not set in.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  MICHAEL DAWSON

Burton Bradstock

                LO

LONELY BOY

 

What a laugh our day away in Wigan was.  Three points.  A good sing-song and the opportunity to take the rise out of the bloke sitting on his own in the front row.  Billy No-Mates ... until someone came along to join him.  Poor sod !

What with the early mistake by De Zeeuw letting in Keano and then Davids producing a Ginola type run (well, in distance if not slalom style) to score later, it must have made his day miserable, but one man's meat and all that.  It made our trip home South a great deal easier.

Not a lot has been said here about the holding by McCulloch on King from a first half corner and this was perhaps even more of a penalty than the one on Robbie.

The impressive thing about the game was the way that Spurs dictated the pace and direction of the game.  Wigan were all muscle and hustle and bustle, with one of their few moments of finesse earning them a late consolation goal, but it was too late.  Spurs had scored the all important second goal and were playing out time.

With Wigan being second in the table, this means Spurs have drawn and beaten three of the top four and only lost to Chelsea after a dodgy ref's decision.  This gives great hope for the future, especially as this might have been a match we had got turned over in during recent years.

Benny The Ball

Hallelujah !  More than one goal scored for the first time since the middle of October and coincidentally enough, that was the last time we won in the league, 2-0 at home to Everton which just goes to show that if you fail to score more than one goal per game chances are you arenít going to win.  Score two or more goals in a match and the likelihood of victory improves dramatically !  

So it proved to be at the JJB stadium at Wigan on Saturday where Keano and Edgar doubled our goals FOR tally for the first time in five matches.  Personally I was delighted to see our pit-bull get off the mark in the North West even if the Wigan defending leading up to his goal resembled that of my 5-a-side team on a Thursday night, shambolic.  

The Dutchmanís goal swept aside any hint of nerves amongst the boys going into the final 15 minutes of the match.  Letís not forget how weíve managed to squander 1-0 leads recently because of our inability to score a second goal so I was positively jubilant when Pollitt politely let the ball shoot underneath him, thank you very much weíre going home happy.  

That said we still found it a little confusing at the end there to be more than one up and possibly felt obliged to let in our customary goal at the death so we could put our nerves through the meat grinder in 4 minutes of added time but letís be fair the boys done good.  

I think most of us were surprised to see Keano, thereís only one Keano, start for the second game in succession.  I was convinced Defoe would be drafted back in after the Irishmanís poor show against West Ham but the jolly Dutchman is obviously wiser than I.  In my pre-match for this game I lamented the lack of width recently and demanded Defoe be drafted back in for the ineffective Keane.  

As it was, Keane played really well and scored and the midfield was tuned perfectly to match and outmuscle their strength until quality took over in the second half and Davids could race away and lash home the winner.  Width?  Who needs width?  Iíll keep my mouth shut perhaps from now on regarding tactics !  

So, Keano sent us on our way with a slightly fortuitous moment which led to the goal.  OK, it was bloody lucky and awful defending from De Zeeuw that led to our first goal but Iím not complaining, he should have cut out Tainioís through ball but he didnít, Keane scored and the home side never really recovered I feel.   

We restricted them to nothing more than long shots and one header that went over the bar from a corner and that was it, Robbo didnít have a save to make.  Ledders and Dawson just seem to get better and better and perhaps now Keano deserves to keep his place at home to Sunderland on Saturday where 3 points are surely up for grabs against the basement boys, they look truly awful.  Jenas was a little quiet again but I like look the look of Tainio the more I see of him, bags of energy and he was unlucky not to be on the score sheet on Saturday with one rasping drive whistling just past the post.  With Routledge and Lennon both now fit, competition for places is fiercely intense (just ask Jermaine!) and it will be interesting to see who Jol goes with against the Black Cats.  

In all honesty I expected more from Wigan and would have taken the draw if it had been offered before the game but I think they are slowly coming back down to earth after their stupendous start.  That said, they certainly caused the Goons a lot more problems last week than they did to us on Saturday and we can be rightly chuffed with our maximum take home.   

On the day, Jol got the tactics spot on for this one and there only ever looked like being one winner after Keaneís goal.  It wasnít a vintage performance and one that will stick in the memory for that long but we got the job done against a team who are flying.  Itís an old clichť now but this IS the type of game we would have lost not so long ago so a big pat on the back for the boys and the 5000 fans who made the long trip up North, tremendous effort.  Happy 50th game in charge Martin, Iíll try not to question your tactics again !

Saul McNeilage

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Everton 1 Newcastle United 0 Sunday
Fulham 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Sunday
Middlesbrough 2 West Bromwich Albion 1 Sunday
West Ham United 1 Manchester United 2 Sunday
Midweek scores :
Liverpool 2 Sunderland 0 Wednesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 14 12 1 1 33 7 37 +26
2 Manchester United 13 8 3 2 21 13 27 +8
3 Arsenal 13 8 2 3 22 10 26 +12
4 Liverpool 13 7 4 2 15 8 25 +7
5 Wigan Athletic 14 8 1 4 16 10 25 +6
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 14 6 6 2 16 10 24 +6
7 Bolton Wanderers 13 7 2 4 14 12 23 +2
8 Manchester City 14 6 3 5 15 12 21 +3
9 West Ham United 13 5 3 4 17 13 19 +4
10 Middlesbrough 14 5 4 5 20 20 19 0
11 Charlton Athletic 13 6 1 6 17 18 19 -1
12 Blackburn Rovers 13 5 3 5 15 17 18 -2
13 Newcastle United 14 5 3 6 12 14 18 -2
14 Fulham 13 4 3 6 14 17 15 -3
15 Aston Villa 14 4 3 7 14 22 15 -8
16 Everton 13 4 1 8 5 16 13 -11
17 West Bromwich Albion 14 3 3 8 15 24 12 -9
18 Portsmouth 14 2 4 8 11 20 10 -9
19 Birmingham City 13 2 3 8 8 17 9 -9
20 Sunderland 15 1 2 12 12 30 5 -18

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