Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Latics 0-0 Bradford City AET – Bradford win 4-2 on penalties – Latics Suffer Penalty Misery

The Latics were made to pay for repeated miss chances, as they crashed out of the Capital One Cup on penalties to League Two side Bradford City on Tuesday night.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Shaun Maloney fired over from the spot, and Jordi Gomez’s tame effort was saved by Matt Duke, as the Bantams clinically disposed all four of their kicks from twelve yards.
It was a frustrating night for the Latics as the dominated much of the game but were unable to find any real penetration, at a rain swept DW stadium.
Jordi Gomez
Manager Roberto Martinez ran the changes with only Ivan Ramis (who captained the team) and Ali Al Habsi retaining their places after the weekend’s win against West Ham. Ben Watson played in an unfamiliar centre half role alongside Ramis, and Adrian Lopez.  
Ramis looked to have given the Latics the lead early into the game put his header was ruled out for offside from Gomez’s free kick.
Gomez was at the heart of everything that was good with the Latics play and went close on two separate occasions.
As the game wore on the Latics were unable to break down a stubborn visiting backline, with the midfield unable to stamp their usual authority on the game. As a result clear cut chances for both front men Mauro Boselli and Callum McManaman.
The Argentine ensured a frustration evening as he was unable to create anything of real note throughout.
Boosted by a 5,000 strong following Bradford carved out their only clear cut chance with 15 mins left of normal time when former West Ham player Zavon Hines broke free, only to be denied smartly by Al Habsi.  
Late on first team regular Jean Beasejour and Maloney brought about some much needed composure to the Latics forward play.
They should have sealed a place in the final eight deep into extra time when Gomez missed when he was through on goal with only Duke to beat.
Franco Di Santo
The miss summed up the evening for Martinez men who despite controlling the tie never looked as if they were going to actually win and the defeat will be hard to take for fans who saw the competition as a genuine chance of progress.
Elsewhere there was good news for Franco Di Santo who managed a surprise call up to Argentina’s friendly squad against Saudi Arabia in November, he will line up in a forward line boasting the likes of Carlos Tevez, Higuain and of course Lionel Messi.
Up next is a trip to Tottenham on Saturday and a start of a tough period, which includes Liverpool, Manchester City and inform West Brom. Martinez will look to pick his players up as they aim for all three points.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Latics v Bradford City - Captial One Cup Fourth Round Preview

Roberto Martinez is set to use Tuesday night’s cup tie as an opportunity to give his fringe players some valuable game time, as he sets sights on a place in the last eight of the competition.

League Two’s Bradford City are the opposition on what will be the first game under the floodlights of the DW stadium this season and they will be confident of causing an upset.

Mauro Boselli

The Latics are set to be without on loan Arsenal midfield Ryo Miyaichi who also missed the weekend’s victory against West Ham, the Japan international has been sidelined with a troubling groin injury for a few weeks now.

Definitely out are Antolin Alcaraz and Albert Crusat, with manager Martinez unable to provide an expected return date for both just yet.

The Latics will be without Scottish international midfielder James McArthur who picked up his fifth booking of the season late on during Saturday’s defeat of West Ham, with David Jones, Ben Watson and Jordi Gomez all battling for a start in his place.

Record signing Mauro Boselli is set to start and will be keen to impress once again, having netted three times in his two previous cup outings. Youngster Callum McMannaman is also set to feature after a number of promising substitute appearances this season.

The tie provides the Latics with a great opportunity to progress into the last eight of a major trophy and will have many dreaming of a cup run reminiscent of the 2005/06 season.

Jordi Gomez

Bradford City arrive in decent form, having exceeded pre season expectations to date, but manager Phil Parkinson is set to be without a number of key players. City midfielder Ricky Ravenhill will serve the first of his three-game ban after being dismissed for violent conduct in the 1-0 defeat to Burton Albion at the weekend, while Andrew Davies and Luke Oliver are also almost certain to miss out as well after picking up injuries at the Pirelli Stadium.

Gary Jones may not feature on Tuesday evening either after Parkinson acknowledged that the midfielder might not be ready for two games in four days, following his return to first team action, and Craig Forsyth will definitely miss out as the winger is cup-tied after already playing in the competition for Watford.

Martinez will be keen to see his side progress and crucially ensure that they can gather some real momentum, and move away from the danger zone in the league.

As with the earlier rounds, he will also want to see that the same hunger and desire from his fringe players, as he will be look to freshen up his first XI over the course of the winter period.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Latics 2-1 West Ham - Ramis Stunner Sets Up Win

The Latics produced their best performance of the season on Saturday afternoon, to secure their first home victory, against a lacklustre West Ham.

It was an outstanding display right from the go, as Roberto Martinez's men followed up their Capital One Cup victory against the Londoners last month with a crucial three points.

Ivan Ramis
Ivan Ramis opened the scoring with a stunning strike straight from a Jean Beausejour corner, and the crucial second came from James McArthur as he fired home at the start of the second half.  

Despite being ten places adrift at the start of the day the result was never in doubt and the score line certainly flattered Sam Allardyce’s men.

Having named an unchanged team from last week’s defeat to Swansea, Martinez’s men put in a more complete performance which stifled their visitors from the outset.

The confidence and belief was evident from the Latics throughout, their rhythm and control enabled the team to dictate play and create plenty of chances, as West Ham’s midfield struggled to get on the ball.

Possession was quickly won back time and time again, as the industries pairing of James McArthur and James McCarthy, dominated the battle against former Latic Momo Diame and villain of the afternoon Kevin Nolan.

Ramis who had agreed terms to join West Ham in the summer, netted his second goal of the season ironically against the Hammers direct from a corner. He poised himself on the penalty spot and emphatically struck home, two days after turning 28. 

Following the stunning opener the game fell into the predicted pattern as the Latics played their usual brand of pass and move football, and the visitors pumped everything upto Andy Carroll.

Ramis and captain Gary Caldwell were helped out by Maynor Figueroa at the back and kept the on loan Liverpool player as he was left frustrated all afternoon.

James McArthur

The Latics were unlucky not to have gone into the break with better cushion with McCarthy, Beausejour and Shaun Maloney all going close.

The inevitable second arrived only minutes into the second half as Scottish international McArthur capped a fine display with a goal. He smashed home low and left from six yards after some great work from the terrific Maloney.

West Ham rarely threatened but as the Latics were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure late on they went close with James Tomkins’ effort coming off the woodwork, thanks to a deflection from Figueroa.

It was a case of second time lucky for Tomkins deep into injury time as he volleyed into an empty net but it was far too late for the Hammers.

The late consolation was the only blight on a terrific afternoon’s work from Martinez’s men. The performance was more in line with form at the back end of last season and will fans will have left the DW in good spirits.

The result moves the Latics onto eight points and importantly now gives them a four point cushion above the drop zone ahead of the visit to Tottenham next weekend.

Before the visit to London is the Capital One Cup tie against League Two’s Bradford City, on Tuesday night. The fourth round tie will provide Martinez with the perfect opportunity to freshen up and give his fringe players game time.  

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Swansea 2-1 Latics - Latics Fall Short on Welsh Trip

The Latics suffered their fifth defeat of the season, as they were unable to pull off a late comeback against Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.

Spanish duo Pablo Hernandez and Miguel Michu struck the decisive blows within a crushing two minute spell. Despite a wonder goal from Emmerson Boyce, the Latics returned to the North West empty handed.  
Emmerson Boyce 
The Latics named an unchanged team from their clash with Everton two weeks ago and should have taken the lead in a tense opening half, when Shaun Maloney’s effort was kept out by Michel Vorm.

The opening goal of the game came when Pablo Hernandez, Swansea's club-record signing, broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with a low shot past Ali Al-Habsi from 18 yards. 

Michu added the crucial second for the Welsh club, with a close-range header from Jonathan de Guzman's corner for his seventh goal of the season. 

The Latics refused to lie down and were back in the game after Emmerson Boyce's exquisite 69th-minute back-flick, but were made to rue a contentious decision to rule out a header from Arouna Kone.

It was a decision that cost the Latics dear as they were unable to find that decisive blow late on, with even keeper Al Habsi going close with a header in the dying moments.

Roberto Martinez
Former Swansea boss Martinez, who was unsuccessful in his appeal against a disciplinary charge from the FA this week, was unhappy with yet another decision going against his side on the road:
“It was a call which didn't go our way. It was really costly. I felt it would have been an interesting final 10 minutes because we could have won the game. 

Sometimes you want to be honest with the referee's decision, but I have learned my lesson. I cannot really comment.

I need to accept it and give an official answer. Sometimes the calls go your way, sometimes they don't. But I thought we deserved a point.”

Up next for the Latics is a crucial home clash against West Ham, which will spark many a memory of a memorable afternoon the last time the Hammers visited the DW.

With the winter nights almost upon us, Martinez will use this week to pick his side up following this latest set back. He will be keen to bring this winless run to an end and give his side some breathing space above the teams currently occupying the bottom three as the league begins to take shape. 


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Latics 2-2 Everton – Latics Denied by Late Penalty

The Latics were pegged back twice, as they had to make do with a share of the points, in an entertaining encounter on Saturday afternoon.

Fans will have left the DW stadium wondering what might have been, despite having witnessed the teams strongest performance of the season, the search for the first home victory of the campaign goes on.

Franco Di Santo
Roberto Martinez decided to field Franco Di Santo in his starting XI, replacing Jordi Gomez, and his side put in a dominant display in a cracking opening half.

The opening goal came as a result of fantastic work from Shaun Maloney who was back to his imperious best and was at the heart of everything going forward. After beating Seamus Coleman his cross was met by Arouna Kone who managed to beat Tim Howard from an acute angle.

No sooner had the play re started the visitors had levelled up with their first move forward. Nikica Jelavic was on the end of Steven Pienaar’s attempted shot showed why he is regarded as one the deadliest finishers around.

Despite the set back the Latics refused to get down and continued to dominate for large periods of the first half and re took the lead thanks to some fantastic work from the tremendous Kone.

His raw pace did for Johnny Heitinga as he latched onto Gary Caldwell’s pinpoint long ball and despite looking as if he was going no where, was able to square the ball back for Di Santo to smash home.

The Argentine almost added a third, moments later, as his smart attempt was kept out by Tim Howard.

Ali Al Habsi was on hand to ensure that the Latics headed into the break ahead, and they begun the second half on the front foot.

Shaun Maloney
There was a lot of needle in the middle of park as both midfields looked to impose themselves on the game. The referee Kevin Friend did not allow for the game to flow and was unable to stamp his authority on the game with a number of strange decisions.

As the game wore on the Latics invited the visitors onto them and were reliant on hitting them on the counter. Unfortunately they were made to pay for this with only five minutes to play, as Maynor Figueroa brought down Kevin Mirallas.

Former Latic Leighton Baines emphatically beat Al Habsi from the spot to secure a share of the spoils for his team.

But the Latics’ could well have secured all three points late on as Kone and Maloney linked up once again, with the Scottish international’s strike taking a deflection just over the cross bar.

Despite the feeling of having dropped two points it was certainly an encouraging performance from Martinez’s men as they more than matched one of the form teams of the early season.

Up next is a trip to South Wales after the international break and Martinez will be keen to see his international’s return without any injuries, as he prepares his side for a crucial run. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Latics v Everton - Preview

Wigan look to secure their first home victory of the season on Saturday as they welcome in form Everton to the DW Stadium.
The Latics will have Jordi Gomez available after his red card in last week’s defeat to Sunderland was rescinded on appeal, although the return of Antolin Alcarez from injury is unlikely with the away trip to Swansea more of a realistic target.

Jordi Gomez

Manager Roberto Martinez will be keen to secure what would only be his side’s second victory of the season and ease some of the early season pressure, which has seen confidence slide after an encouraging start.
As for the visitors they have started the season on fire and are currently in second place, which is their best ever start to a Premier League campaign. The start has left many wondering if the Blues can genuinely push for a Champions League place next season.
This will be a real test for Martinez who himself is keen to put a few weeks of bad press behind him, speaking on Friday he explained he is happy to move on: "It would be all too easy for me to be bitter and say that, from now on, I won't speak after the game. That would be wrong, because I would be going against the fans and my Wigan Athletic fans, who deserve to know the view that I have on the game. What's important - and I learnt this very, very early - is never question the integrity of a referee or a human being who is trying to do their best."

The Latics will look to end a run of seven games since they last beat David Moyes’ team, but Everton haven’t had it all their own way with three of the last four games ending in draws.

All good run must come to an end at some point and many will have this game down as a win for the visitors but Martinez will be confident that his side can bounce back from recent defeats and make it an uncomfortable afternoon for the Blues and secure victory in the process.