After Monday’s excellent performance against the Gunners, Roberto Martinez opted to retain the starting eleven which secured Wigan’s first ever win at the Emirates Stadium with the only changes being a return to the bench for Steve Gohuri and Shaun Maloney. There was still no place for talismanic striker Hugo Rodallega as he continues to recover from his knee injury.
Latics started off positively and had a good shout for a penalty turned down in the first few minutes when Gomez went down in the area, the Wigan man claiming a push by Senderos. Mr Mason who awarded Wigan a penalty at Anfield wasn’t convinced and the away side continued to press with Gomez shooting over from the edge of the area.
Fulham countered and Murphy put the ball across to Duff who was allowed to shoot unchallenged but the shot didn’t trouble Al Habsi in the Wigan goal.
Victor Moses has withdrawn from contract talks this week but any concerns that his mind would be elsewhere seemed to be discounted as a typical Moses’ run saw him cut inside but Schwarzer saved comfortably.
Both sides looked dangerous and Pogrebnyak had a goal bound shot blocked by captain fantastic Gary Caldwell and at the other end Di Santo running around with his usual exuberance caused frequent problems for the Fulham defence. Gomez was at the heart of everything that Wigan were producing and the Spaniard earned a free kick from a foul but his shot hit the wall and was easily cleared.
Fulham are noted for scoring at home and Dempsey and Dembele both had shots blocked by the committed Wigan defence. Dempsey continued to pressurise the Wigan defence and beat Boyce on the outside and his cross fizzed across the area but thankfully for Wigan, no Fulham player could get a touch on the ball and Beausejour kept his composure and cleared for the away side.
Wigan suffered a blow when Di Santo who has been in fine form in recent weeks was replaced shortly after the half hour with a knock and Conor Sammon, now the only fit forward on the books was brought on to replace him.
Fulham continued to press and another fine cross from Dempsey forced Al Habsi into making a fine catch to nullify the threat.
Latics whilst looking comfortable were not attacking with any great frequency and once again it was Gomez with a long range show which didn’t trouble the home keeper. Gomez was involved again just before half time when Moses broke down the left , passed to Gomez who controlled the ball brilliantly and then fired a goal bound shot under presusre, which Schwarzer just managed to get across to.
The half time whistle brought an end to a half which was short on goals and quality but not on effort or endeavour.
The second half started in the same vein as the first ended with Dempsey and Gomez the key players for the respective teams. The American had burst through but was brought down by Figueroa , however Mr Mason ruled that the Honduran had got the ball. At the other end the Spaniard shot from a tight angle but couldn’t squeeze the ball into the net.
Martinez opted to freshen things up, replacing the best player on the Wigan side this afternoon with the man credited with sparking the recent Wigan revival Shaun Maloney.
Within two minutes Wigan were ahead, when Emerson Boyce blasted a shot from the edge of the penalty area into the net for his first goal of the season.
Wigan were guilty earlier in the season of failing to hold onto leads and so it proved again today when in less than a minute the home side had equalised. Dempsey once again proved the creator when his pass found Pogrebnyak shot past Al Habsi and it was game on again. Fulham almost took the lead a couple of minutes later when Riise got round Moses fired the ball over and Pogrebnyak’s attempt hit the woodwork and bounced onto the line and Wigan scrambled the ball away.
Fulham continued to press and Al Habsi had to get down quickly to save from Riise. As the game continued, Wigan retreated further back, allowing Fulham to pour forward and Figueroa had to react smartly to block a Dempsey shot.
Wigan were content to soak up the pressure and try to pass their way out of defence with the back three showing the value of their understanding of each other’s play.
Roberto Martinez opted to make his third substitution bringing on the more defensive minded Watson to replace the creative McCarthy
Fulham continued to have the best of the action when Pogrebnyak’s mis-hit shot trickled towards the goal, hit the post allowing Figueroa to clear the ball.
Fulham the next chance when a mis hit clearance from Caldwell hit Senderos and fortunately for Wigan, the ball trickled past the post with Al Habsi stranded.
Latics were riding their luck but in the dying minutes the luck ran out, when Senderos headed a deserved winner for the home side and the result leaves Wigan still very much in the relegation battle.
Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa
Moses, McArthur, McCarthy
Sammon for Di Santo, Maloney for Gomez, Watson for McCarthy
Man of Match…Gomez who was involved in everything for Wigan, until he was substituted that is .
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