Monday, October 19, 2009

Wigan review

Given the circumstances leading upto the game (preperations hampered through injury and an international break) and then during the ninety minutes itself (going a goal down on the stroke of half-time and then playing the final half an hour with ten men) a point can be seen as a very good return.

It is, I suppose, a measure of the current sides mentality that we came away with a point rather than empty handed, and also a sign of the ambition and expectation there is that there is also a sense of frustration to not come away with all three-points.

Having gone behind on the stroke of half-time to a goal I thought contained four mistakes on our part - losing out on the initial header, Richards beaten to the ball, Given not dealing with the shot effectively enough and finally, being second to the follow up - we got back into the game at exactly the right time with a neat finish from Petrov that Wigan will feel they should have done better to clear.

The second half was an entertaining one to watch and had plenty of tension following Zabaleta's sending off, which despite the soft first yellow card was inevitable after the rash challenge he has a habit of committing. It would have been interesting to see if we indeed would have gone on to win the game with a full compliment of players.

This is not to say it was a backs to the wall job as whilst we looked resolute in defence, we had possession and carved out opportunities but were unable to get that one quality chance which could have taken the points.

I was impressed with Wigan though I have to say. Whilst defensively they can be exposed they have plenty of spark and pace going forward. It will be no surprise to see them knock of one or two of the more fancied sides throughout the season, although a lack of a goalscorer will limit their ambition.

Hughes again opted for a 4-4-2 line-up, leaving Ireland on the bench and I'd argue allows Wright-Phillips's more opportunity. Whilst we look a more compact and tight side my preference is for a 4-3-3 which affords more flexibility and attacking threat. I can see why Hughes prefers to start away from home with the more defensive set-up (with the option of switching if the game demands) but that is twice in succession we have gone behind on our travels. Perhaps a little less caution would have yielded a greater return than the two points we have managed.

vote it up!

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