Sunday, 2 December 2012

Newcastle v Latics Premier League Preview

The Latics head north on Monday evening, to take on an out of sorts Newcastle United as they kick off the crucial busy festive period. 

Roberto Martinez will be grateful of the extra 48 hours break given to both sides as a result of the game being switched for Sky’s Monday Night Football coverage, as he looks for more luck on the injury front.

Gary Caldwell

Having headed into the midweek clash against the Champions without all three first choice centre half’s, the Spaniard could well be forced to stick with same defensive line. Captain Gary Caldwell and midfielder David Jones are both rated as 50-50. Meanwhile Antolin Alcaraz, Albert Crusat, Ivan Ramis and Ben Watson are all ruled out with various ongoing injuries.

Both sides head into the clash separated by only goal difference, as Newcastle boss Alan Pardew looks to avoid a third straight home defeat and bring an end to five game winless run.

Injuries and European football have exposed the lack of depth in the Geordie team, as they focussed much of the summer in hanging onto prized assets rather than add to an already small squad. Pardew will not be able to call upon the services of the influential midfield pairing of Yohan Cabaye and Haten Ben Arfa, who both look set for lengthy spells on the sidelines. Elsewhere centre half Steven Taylor was also added to a growing injury list this week and utility man James Perch is suspended.

On what is expected to be a bitterly cold night the Latics will look to heap more pressure on the home side and keep the crowd quiet. They will gain confidence from their last outing against City where they were arguably the better side for large parts and created a number of openings.

Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo led the line impressively and Jordi Gomez was unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty before half time. Despite the absence of his first choice centre half's Martinez will have been encouraged by the performance of Adrian Lopez who lead the line and held his own against the Champions. 

Adrian Lopez
Elsewhere the Latics have secured a home tie in the Third Round of the FA Cup against League One outfit AFC Bournemouth and will be keen to make up for the Carling Cup disappointment with a run in the Cup. 

Before the the cup kicks in, they head into a busy and potentially season defining festive period, with games against QPR, Norwich, Arsenal, Everton and Aston Villa to come before they face Manchester United on New Year’s day.

Much will depend on Monday evening if Martinez’s men are in the mood to impress, the Spaniard warned ahead of the game that this is potentially a bad time to take on Newcastle, but will want to take advantage of the situation and move clear of Newcastle and the teams below them.

For the fans heading up north they will take heart from their last two Monday night outings where they secured memorable victories against Arsenal and Blackburn securing their top flight status in the process. 

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.

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.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Wigan 2-2 Stoke City – Latics Secure Draw

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

Shaun Maloney gave the Latics the lead after only four minutes, after great link up play between the tenacious Maloney and Franco Di Santo resulted in Robert Huth clearly handling. 

Shaun Maloney
Scottish international Maloney coolly converted the penalty giving visiting keeper Asmir Begovic no chance.

Unlike their last home game Roberto Martinez’s men were quickly out of the blocks. In what was an impressive start from Martinez’s men with Chilean international Jean Beausejour tormenting the Stoke backline, but he was forced off with an injury on the half hour mark.

That seemed to kill off the Latics’ creativity and drive, as the Potters brought on new signing Charlie Adam and they gained some control especially in midfield. 

Missed chances earlier in the half proved costly as Stoke levelled in the 40th minute, Walters scoring from the spot after referee Martin Atkinson had adjudged Maynor Figueroa of handling the ball inside his own area.

Irish international Jonathan Walters fired home past new dad Ali Al Habsi, and ensured that somewhat against the run of the play the visitors went in level at the break.

Al Habsi did very well to tip Mark Wilson’s fine strike onto the bar and out for a corner as Stoke pressed for a second.

Any momentum that Tony Pulis’ side had looked to have gained was banished early in the second half. Arouna Kone did well to find Di Santo who finished smartly with a first time strike.

Despite the setback the visitors fought back and found their feet once again, and Peter Crouch levelled the game up as he rose to head home from Walters’ cross.

Al Habsi was on hand late on to deny Adam a winner on debut, when he produced an outstanding save when the free kick had taken a wicked deflection.

Many will have left the DW frustrated as the Latics twice had the lead and had much of the play and possession. Speaking after the match manager Martinez was keen to pick out the positives from his side’s display:

“We started really brightly and got the goal we deserved, but then you are looking at the manner in which the game opened up and it could have gone either way.”

The points sees the Latics remain in the top of the league on four points, next up is a trip to Old Trafford, after the international break and Martinez will be keen to see his players return to Wigan with no injuries. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Nottingham Forest 1-4 Wigan – Latics Show Class to Progress

The Latics resisted a second half comeback from Nottingham Forest, to ease into the third round of the Capital One Cup.

Roberto Martinez’s men headed into the clash keen to avoid yet another upset, and despite deciding to field a number of fringe players, his side outclassed their Championship counterparts.

Argentinean international Mauro Boselli opened the scoring when he got on the end of a pin point delivery from Ronnie Stam.

The goal seemed to relax the Latics and they soon doubled the lead with a stunning 30 yard strike from Maynor Figueroa which stunned the Forest faithful into applause. The impressive Jordi Gomez got in on the act with a sublime right foot effort before the break, and ensured the Latics headed into the break with a three goal cushion.

Within seconds of the second half commencing Forest struck back with a wonder goal of their own, from Simon Cox which left Ali Al Habsi with no chance. 

Despite the dismissal of captain on the night Antolin Alcaraz, the Latics held firm and Callum McManaman wrapped up victory, after great link up play with debutant Ryo Miyaichi.

Having made several changes from Saturday’s victory against Southampton, Martinez will have been delighted with a performance that showed plenty of promise. With all of his first team strikers now having registered within the first three games the now faces a pleasant selection headache ahead of the Stoke clash.

At times Mauro Boselli’s movement was second to none, and despite not having the little bit of luck required early on, he made himself available to comfortably net his first goal of the season.

There is no doubt that anywhere around the box the Argentine is deadly and with so much midfield creativity now on hand, he could well make his second chance at the DW stadium count. 

For the first time in a long while the Latics can look forward to the third round draw, and will now prepare for the visit of Stoke City on Saturday. Martinez and co will be very confident of securing their first home victory of the new season at the second time of asking.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Southampton 0-2 Wigan - Strike Pair Ensure First Win

New pairing Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone both got on the score sheet, as the Latics secured their first victory of the new season at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.

In what the first ever league meeting of the two sides, Roberto Martinez’s men put on a fantastic performance to spoil the party for home side, on what was their first home game on their return to the top flight. 

Franco Di Santo
The home side were the brighter team during the opening phases, but unlike last week the Latics were determined to weather the storm and held firm.

The first chance of the game fell to the impressive Adam Lallana, his effort was fantastically tipped onto the bar by Ali Al Habsi. The Latics stopper was bright all afternoon, and will have been delighted with his first clean sheet of the season.

Captain Gary Caldwell was on hand when he put in an impressive last ditch challenge when Lallana was really to pull the trigger.

The Latics upped the tempo at the start of the second half, and they took the lead, after Di Santo fired home smartly, following great play from the influential Shaun Maloney.

The opener seemed to drain the confidence from the home side, with the Latics midfield ensuring that the Saints were unable to get into any kind of rhythm.

Arouna Kone
On his full debut Kone wrapped up all three points, the Ivorian international dispossessed Jose Fonte and ran the length of the pitch to finish off emphatically.

The victory will serve as the perfect tonic for Martinez and his men who were made to pay last week for a poor start to the Chelsea game. With many pundits doubting their ability to cope without the now departed Victor Moses, the Spaniard was delighted with his side's effort:

“The whole team took massive responsibility after losing Moses. I am very, very satisfied because we knew how difficult it would be.”

Next up for the Latics is a midweek trip to Nottingham Forest, in the newly named Capital One Cup. Martinez is expected to ring the changes with many of the fringe players expected to be given a run out. In a game that is being televised live by Sky, Latics fans will be keen to avoid an upset and will be keen to go on a cup run.