Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Latics v Manchester City - Premier League Preview

The Latics welcome the Champions Manchester City to the DW Stadium in Wednesday night’s televised game, as they go in search of back to back home wins for the first time this season.

Roberto Martinez must deal with an injury crisis as he prepares to do battle against Roberto Mancini’s unbeaten team. Shaun Maloney and captain Gary Caldwell face late fitness tests ahead of the game, with stand in skipper Ivan Ramis also struggling with a hamstring injury which forced him during their last gasp win against Reading.

Jordi Gomez
Better news for Martinez is that he is likely to be able to call upon James McArthur and Franco Di Santo, who both featured off the bench on Saturday. Midfielders Albert Crusat and Ben Watson miss out, while winger Ryo Miyaichi and defender Antolin Alcaraz remain on the sidelines.

The Latics will be keen to avenge last season’s 1-0 defeat at home to City and will also look to bring an end to a run of five consecutive defeats against the blue half of Manchester.

Martinez will be looking for his side to build on the comeback win at the weekend and will once again look towards hat-trick hero Jordi Gomez to inspire and create. The gifted Spaniard has been the victim of continual abuse from certain sections of the DW crowd, but his display against the Royals will have gone a long way to silence the critics.

Vincent Kompany

As for the visitors despite still being unbeaten Mancini will not be happy with his side, knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage for the second consecutive season, many believe nothing but a second title will ensure he holds onto his job.

French international Gael Clichy remains on the injury list having missed the last two matches with an ankle problem. Captain Vincent Kompany felt no ill effects after his 90-minute performance against Chelsea on Sunday.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell is making progress but not ready to feature, while right-back Micah Richards remains out.
Joleon Lescott is fit again after injury, but the England international is not expecting to replace Matija Nastasic in the starting XI.
Despite the difficulty of the task ahead of the Latics they will be confident of once again upsetting the odds, and will only need to look back to when they beat the then current Champions Manchester United at the DW Stadium.
Home form needs to be more consistent if they are to avoid another battle to avoid the drop, and a third win of the season in front of their own fans would be very welcome.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Liverpool 3-0 Latics – Suarez Overpowers Latics

A poor second half performance ensured the Latics fell to a second consecutive defeat, against a Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

Having gone into the clash unbeaten in their last five games against the red side of Merseyside, the Latics headed into the game confident that they could pile more misery onto Brendan Rodgers’ men. 

Luis Suarez & Ivan Ramis

Roberto Martinez opted to field the same XI who fell short against West Brom last weekend, with the influential James McArthur missing out once again with a dead leg. 

The Latics frustrated the home side throughout the first period and restricted them to very few chances, with the impressive Jose Enrique, going close with an effort just wide from the edge of the area, and Daniel Agger went close shortly afterwards nodding past the post from a corner.

Martinez was forced into a change on the half hour mark with Ben Watson coming off for David Watson.
Moments before half-time, Enrique just failed to turn home, with Al-Habsi producing a smart stop to ensure the two sides went in at the break level. 

The Latics hardwork in the first half was undone within a devastating twenty minutes as
Liverpool were unplayable for large periods and took the lead with Suarez emphatically striking home, after Raheem Sterling took advantage of some lapse play in the Latics midfield. 

Enrique grew increasingly influential as the game during the second period and was on hand to see Suarez net his second after a great run and assist from the Spaniard. The former Newcastle man rounded off the scoring as he was left unmarked after some neat play between the delightful Suarez and existing Sterling. 

The Latics were unable to get a foothold on the second half as they were unable to live with Liverpool as they secured only their third league win of the season and stretched their unbeaten run to seven games. 

Ali Al Habsi
Martinez will have wanted to extend his side’s recent unbeaten run against the team he turned down in the summer, and will feel that his side were unlucky to have conceded the third and ultimately the killer blow. 

Ivan Ramis’s touch seemed to have deflected off Suarez but the Uruguayan was given the decision which resulted in Enrique’s goal. 

Although he will not have many arguments with the overall result as his side were second best for much of the contest and were lucky not to have conceded more late on as the home side wasted a number of chances. 

Up next for the Latics are two home clashes, first against Reading who themselves picked up their first win of the season against inform Everton. Martinez will be keen to ensure that his side arrest a run of two straight defeats as we head into the busy winter period.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Liverpool v Latics - Premier League Preview

The Latics prepare ahead of trip to Anfield on Saturday afternoon, as they look to continue their impressive recent record against the five time European Champions.
Roberto Martinez’s men will have fond memories of their last trip to Anfield, when they left with all three points which sparked the great escape of last season, into life. Despite a number of changes at Anfield since March, the Latics will be confident of continuing Liverpool’s awful home record in 2012.
Gary Caldwell
Having spoken in the week about his vision of a top ten spot, Martinez will be keen to ensure his side pick up and recover from last weekend’s defeat against West Brom. Having also turned down the opportunity to take the Anfield hot seat he will be keen to show Liverpool and their fans, what his side can really do.  
Liverpool are currently on an unbeaten run of six league matches, but the frustration continues as they have only secured two wins during this run. Luis Suarez has been at the heart of pretty much everything that has been good for Brendan Rodgers’ side this season and poses the main threat.
Martinez has had good news on the injury front ahead of the short trip to Merseyside, with on loan Japanese Ryo Miyachi star likely to return to the match day squad after missing the last month’s action. The influential James McArthur will be given right up kick off to prove his fitness, as the Scottish international recovers from a dead leg.
Franco Di Santo & Lionel Messi
Long term absentee Antolin Alcaraz will miss out once again, with the Paraguayan international Alcaraz making steady progress during his long term rehabilitation.
The Latics look set to stick with roughly the same XI that started last week, with James McArthur possibly replacing last week’s man of the match Ben Watson.  Martinez will also have newly capped Argentine international Franco Di Santo to call upon as he returned from his duty unhurt if as did Oman international keeper Ali Al Habsi.
A similar performance to the one they predicted at White Hart Lane a fortnight ago is exactly what is required on Saturday afternoon. A disciplined performance through tout the spine will frustrate Liverpool and will ensure that the crowd get on their back and will allow for the Latics to be just as expressive on the ball as they were in March.
Consistency is key if the Latics are to indeed kick on and make the push for a top half finish, a run of unbeaten games is needed if they are to avoid the usual mid winter despair.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Latics 1-2 West Brom – Latics Run Halted By Impressive Baggies

The Latics were unable to secure a third straight victory on Saturday afternoon, as an impressive West Brom maintained their excellent start to the season.

Scottish international James Morrison headed past Ali Al Habsi, before full back Billy Jones broke free inside the area to see his effort deflected into the net off Gary Caldwell.

Arouna Kone 
The Latics response was immediate with Arouna Kone getting on the end Jean Beausejour’s low cross to reduce areas before the break.

Despite the obvious boost that the goal provided Roberto Martinez’s men they were unable to break down Steve Clarke’s organised unit. The Baggies continually posed a threat on the break with on loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku denied by a great save from Al Habsi.

Led by the centre half pairing of Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson, the Baggies held firm, as the Latics went in search of their second, despite having much of the possession clear cut chances were at a premium.

Having secured a memorable away win at Tottenham last weekend, the Latics were unable to replicate their free flowing forward play, on what proved to be a frustrating afternoon for all involved.

Despite starting brightly the Latics were unable to make their early dominance count with Ben Watson controlling the midfield last week’s match winner went close with a long range effort. Despite looking un easy Welsh keeper Boaz Myhill, who was starting his first game since conceding six on international duty, was not tested enough and was allowed to find his way into the game. 

Billy Jones
Watson’s second half effort was kept out by Myhill and Chilean international Beausejour was unable to keep his follow up down. Shaun Maloney went close late on but they were unable to find the all important equaliser.

Up next for the Latics is a trip to Liverpool, where they will hope to reproduce their performance last season when they left Anfield with all three points, which sparked the great escape.

Fans will keep an eye on Franco Di Santo who could line up alongside Lionel Messi for his Argentina debut as they take on Saudi Arabia in midweek.

Martinez will be keen to ensure that his other international stars return from midweek friendly duty unhurt, as they prepare to clock up the miles, ahead of the return to Wigan in time for the short trip to Merseyside on Saturday. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Latics v West Brom - Premier League Preview

The Latics head into their clash with in form West Brom on Saturday afternoon, looking for their third consecutive league win of the campaign as they kick off a run of three home games during November.
Roberto Martinez’s men responded perfectly to a six game winless run, with back to back wins at home West Ham and away to Tottenham.  
Arouna Kone
November looks set to be pivotal month for the Latics and their ambitions for the campaign, with three home games and a trip to the hit and miss Liverpool, November could see the Latics looking up the table rather than down.
Much is made of the usually poor early season form from the Latics, but recent performances will encourage both Martinez and fans alike. Both the tempo and fluidity of the last two outings have been reminiscent of their form at the back end of last season, during the memeorable great escape.
Martinez talked this week of how he feels he made the right decision in staying with the Latics during the summer and sees this season as the next chapter in the club’s history.
Facing them at the DW are Steve Clarke’s inform West Brom who find themselves in fifth position level on points with Everton who currently occupy the final Champions League spot. Encouragingly for the Latics, the Baggies are winless on the road this season having lost three of their four outings to date.

Ben Watson
Having suffered an injury time defeat at Newcastle a few weeks ago the Baggies will look to give their travelling support something to shout about this weekend. Although they haven't had the best of recent encounters with Wigan, failing to win the last four, including last season’s 1-1 draw.
As for team news Martinez looks set to stick with the XI that won at White Hart Lane last weekend, with Scottish international James McArthur is rated as 50-50, with match winner Ben Watson likely to retain his starting spot.
Ryo Miyachi is one again out with an ongoing groin injury and Albert Crusat and Antolin Alcaraz will miss out, with return dates for both still unknown.
As shown at the back end of last season momentum and confidence is vital for Martinez and his team, he explained that in managing to keep the core of his team together during the summer transfer window has provided him with the perfect opportunity to make clear progress this season.
Games at home this season regardless of the opposition, based on last week’s performance are evidently winnable and will have many of the fans heading to the DW quietly confident this season.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tottenham 0-1 Latics – Watson Strike Seals Impressive Win

The Latics stunned Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon, as Ben Watson solitary strike was enough to give the Latics their second consecutive league win.

Watson became the first English man to score for the Latics this calendar year, when he netted from close range after Brad Friedel failed to deal with Shaun Maloney’s corner.

Arouna Kone, Ivan Ramis & Ben Watson

Roberto Martinez’s men put in an inch perfect defensive performance and going forward they had much of the game and created the better chance throughout. 

The Latics were on the front foot from the outset and kept the Spurs backline busy, as they carved out three great chances during the opening period.

Veteran keeper Friedel was on hand to deny both Maloney and Arouna Kone, as the pair linked up to great effect all afternoon, and match winner Watson fired over from range in the first half.

The Latics were finally rewarded for their dominance early into the second period, when Friedel was unable to keep Watson’s effort from going across the line.

Much of the pre match talk had focussed on how the Latics would deal with the inform Gareth Bale, and Martinez’s men responded by doubling up on the Welsh star, disturbing his influence on proceedings.

Gareth Bale & Jean Beausejour 
Wigan’s goal early into the second period stunned White Hart Lane, and this seemed to affect the home side, and voiced their disapproval when Jermain Defoe was changed for Emmanuel Adebayor shortly after the opening.

Despite needing to chase the game the Latics saw out the game with some ease, with Steven Caulker’s header the only real concern for Ali Al Habsi.

The centre half pair of Ivan Ramis and captain Gary Caldwell through themselves at every Spurs effort and frustrated the home side to great affect.

Despite the expected late onslaught the Latics held firm and secured their second victory in a week and moves them onto eleven points and up to eleventh place.

The victory signals a fantastic start to November as the Latics still face a trip to Liverpool, along with three crucial home games as the season really begins to take shape. 

Latics v Tottenham - Premier League Preview

The Latics are aiming to bounce back from their midweek cup exit at the hands of Bradford City, as they go in search of back to back league wins for the first time this season, against in a form Tottenham at White Heart Lane.

Roberto Martinez opted to make nine changes to his starting XI on Tuesday evening, and is likely to call upon the same side that secured their first home league win of the campaign against West Ham last weekend.

Franco Di Santo

Long term absentees Albert Crusat and Antolin Alcaraz are still unavailable while Ryo Miyaichi is still struggling with injury following his return from international duty with Japan.

The Spaniard will be looking towards striker Franco Di Santo to the line, who was rewarded for his fine recent form with his first senior international call up for Argentina, for their friendly with Saudi Arabia this month.

Despite also being knocked out of the Capital One Cup in midweek, Spurs head into the game in great form and currently find themselves in fourth spot. The Latics will have to ensure that the influential Gareth Bale is kept quiet, as he netted three times against them last season.

Three seasons ago the Latics suffered a humiliating 9-1 defeat at White Hart Lane, but followed that up with a 1-0 win of their own, the following season.

Gareth Bale

Having been able to pull off a number of great escapes in previous seasons, this campaign has been seen by Martinez as a significant one, where he is keen for his side to be genuinely considered as an established Premier League side.

In order to achieve this, a level of consistency must me maintained, as Martinez explained to the media on Friday afternoon: “Now is the time to bring consistency in performances and results which is where our focus is right now.”

“We know it’s going to be a tough game for us but our aim is to carry on the good football shown against West Ham United last weekend, taking that level of performance to White Hart Lane to be as good as we can be.

“There are lessons to take from our last two away games against Sunderland and Swansea City, aspects of our game that need to improve if we are to get a positive result on the road.”

In what is already shaping up to be a tough November, with Liverpool, West Brom, Reading and the Champions Manchester City to come. Martinez and his team know that the next month will determine their season and they will be looking to pick up something on the road and will of course have fond memories of their last trip to North London when they beat Spurs’ rivals Arsenal.