At the end of the season, if Wigan are relegated then Wigan manager Roberto Martinez will point to this nil – nil draw as one of the results that was responsible for their demise such was their failure to trouble Shay Given in the Villa goal despite controlling the game for large sections of the game against a very poor Aston Villa side.
Roberto Martinez opted understandably to retain the same starting eleven that defeated Bolton on their last outing but some of the intensity of that win was lacking today.
Wigan have had two problems this season, an inability to keep clean sheets and an inability to score goals, however the switch to a Barcelona like back three with two wing backs has seen the goals against column drop in recent weeks with both Caldwell and Alcaraz looking far more assured.
Wigan started the brighter , a pattern they repeated for most of the game with Beausejour looking to cause problems for the Villa defence. All too often however the last ball whizzed across the front of the goal with no one there to make it count. Wigan’s first real chance fell to James McCarthy when Villa failed to clear a cross and as the ball came back into the area, McCarthy bore down on the ball but as he shaped to shoot, Emerson Boyce who had pushed up in support failed to spot his team mate and swung wildly at the ball and the ball cannoned off a defender and was cleared away.
Wigan’s only real moment of danger in the first half was when Robbie Keane got away from McCarthy and put a beautiful ball through to Bent who out paced Caldwell and when one on one with Al Habsi saw the Oman international save well with his legs.
At the other endWigan’s best hope of scoring seemed to rest from corners taken by new signing Beausejour, the best of which was a long floated corner which fell to Caldwell. With everyone in the ground expecting a header from the Scot he chose to volley it narrowly over the bar.
Up front for Wigan Franco Di Santo chased every ball like an Irish setter chasing its tail, lots of enthusiasm but very little chance of success. The big Argentinean lacked support when he did win the ball allowing the two cumbersome centre halves for the away side to clear with ease.
The second half started much the same as the first with Wigan in the ascendancy, Moses seemed to be the preferred outlet but all too often his final ball was misplaced or easily blocked. Luckily for Wigan, Villa offered very little going forward allowing Wigan to continue to build momentum and it seemed to the home fans that surely a goal would come soon. The fact that it didn’t says more about Wigan’s blunt attacking rather than Villa’s heroic defence.
Latics best chances in the second half fell to Di Santo who was thwarted by a fine save late on and a couple of penalty shouts which fell on the dear ears of Mr Friend.
Villa’s best chance was thwarted by a fine block by Boyce as Keane fired a goal bound shot from close range. Not even the introduction of old Wigan favourites Heskey and N’Zogbia the latter following a serious looking injury to Darren Bent sparked any sign of a Villa charge. Full time brought a chorus of boos , not for Wigan but for Villa who accompanied this with chants of you don’t know what you’re doing directed at Alec McLeish.
The point leaves Wigan still rooted to the foot of the table and no home win since last August increases the pressure onWigan’s chances of survival.
Al Habsi …. 7 Solid performance.
Boyce…….. 6 Not his best performance but one superb block.
Figueroa…. 6 Steady.
Caldwell… 9 Led by example.
Alcaraz….. 8 Looked untroubled.
Beausejour…8 Best attacking option.
McCarthy….6 Good going forward but casual passing let him down.
Moses……..5 Wasted to many good options.
Gomez……..7 some good creative play
Di Santo…..6 increasingly isolated up front
Rodallega…7 provides pace and creativity up front
Diame……6 Little chance to influence the game
Subs not used
Kirkland, Jones, Watson, Stam
Referee Kevin Friend
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