Going into this game Tottenham were looking for their third successive win in the Premier League while Wigan were trying to end their two game losing sequence. The match at Wigan would be a test of Tottenham’s new found resolve and if it would stand up to battling it out against a team in the lower regions of the League.
Wigan Athletic 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Scorers: Diame Van der Vaart, Bale
Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro (Livermore), Bale; Van der Vaart (Giovani), Adebayor
The Spurs’ team showed two changes from the side which started against Liverpool – a late withdrawal by Jermaine Defoe due to a virus and the continued absence of Niko Kranjcar through injury saw Rafael Van der Vaart and Sandro return to starting line-up.
Spurs began brightly and were ahead after three minutes when Wigan gave the ball away to Emmanuel Adebayor who progressed into the penalty area and played the ball across to Van der Vaart who smashed the it into the roof of the net. It was the perfect start for Spurs and they continued in a similar vein throughout the first half.
The second goal came twenty minutes later when Gareth Bale met a Luka Modric corner and powerfully glanced the ball past the Wigan keeper. It was all to easy for Spurs with Bale a constant threat with his pacy running. He had a shot saved and then almost repeated his goal from another Modric corner. In the final minutes of the half a Bale cross was powered over by Adebayor. Tottenham’s passing and movement in the first half had been excellent with both Adebayor and Van der Vaart creating space by dropping into midfield to collect the ball.
At half-time Wigan made changes to the shape of their team and were much more competitive and allowed Spurs less time on the ball. This pressure worked in their favour and within five minutes they had pulled a goal back. Poor defending by Spurs led to the goal as under pressure Benoit Assou-Ekotto had an attempted pass blocked, the ball went up into the air and was flicked back towards the goal by Ledley King and as it fell Younes Kaboul couldn’t get a foot in to clear, allowing Mohamed Diame to score.
This encouraged Wigan and they increased the pressure on Spurs who were not as composed as in the first half and were stretched in their defensive work, just relieved to get the ball clear. As it looked as if Wigan would get a second, a second yellow card for Steve Gohouri for another foul on Bale reduced them to ten men and eased the threat on Tottenham.
Against ten men Spurs were able to pass the ball around while Wigan looked to hit them on the break with the long ball which the Spurs defence didn’t cope with comfortably. Kaboul could have put the game beyond the home side on three occasions – he saw a header from a Van der Vaart corner go just over the bar, his shot from a free-kick was deflected onto the bar and from the resulting corner taken by Bale he headed wide. Being only a goal behind gave Wigan hope and a long range shot almost caught Brad Friedel off his line but he recovered to collect easily. The final minutes remained nervy for Tottenham as any slip would have let Wigan in but the home team’s lack of control at the crucial pass saw them spurn opportunities to level.
At half-time, it looked as if Spurs would have a comfortable afternoon, but a revitalised Wigan made them work hard for the three points which have taken Spurs to sixth in the Premier League with a match in hand. Next up in the Premier League are near neighbours, Arsenal, at White Hart Lane. The squad players and youngsters will presumably have another game in the spotlight against Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League on Thursday evening.