Wigan travelled to Villa Park seeking to maintain their unbeaten premier league record there and also halt a worrying slump in league form which has seen them lose
three consecutive Premier League games. Roberto Martinez made two changes to last week’s starting line up, recalling fit again Emerson Boyce and Ronnie Stam for the suspended Steve Gohuri and benched Jordi Gomez respectively.
The game started off in an open fashion in conditions more suited to cricket
with both sides
Last week after five minutes Wigan were a goal down, this week they had two corners in the same amount of time although neither resulted in a shot or header on target.
Villa’s best early chance feel to Agbonlahor but the striker wasted the chance firing well over the bar.
As the game went on Villa started to exert their midfield dominance with Petrov and Ireland being thwarted by the Wigan defenders and keepers. Wigan by contrast looked to soak up the Villa pressure and hit Villa on the break but for all methodical passing from the back into midfield, the moves all too oftenseemed to have a lack of purpose when they reached the edge of the area.
Mr Clattenberg was today’s referee and he adjudged that Caldwell had been over zealous in a challenge on Agbonlahor . The free kick came to nothing and Wigan played a long ball to Di Santo who held the ball up- well and fed Diame who mindful of his wonder goal last week shot from outside the area and the ball was deflected past the far post for a corner. Again Watson took the corner and again it came to nothing.
Wigan then enjoyed a increased period of possession without actually troubling the Villa keeper, with passing that was considerably slower than the Villians’ and Wigan with Moses seemingly short on confidence and right back Stam playing as a winger, Wigan were forced to try and create through the middle but with Ireland and Petrov closing down Wigan, the possession came to naught. Villa on the other hand attacked at pace with sharp direct passing which stretched a Wigan defence lacking in pace. A speculative long ball from Villa found Bent alone in the penalty area, he managed to turn inside two defenders but his shot was superbly tipped away for a corner by Al Habsi when it seemed certain that he would score.
Wigan sought to pressurise the home keeper and Di Santo did just that when a sharp turn and shot from the edge of the penalty area forced Given into a save, however the offside flag had already been raised.
Villa were exerting their dominance in midfield against a hard working cnertal three Wigan midfield, the glaring difference being the speed with which Villa played the ball as opposed to the more static Wigan play. A casual loss of possession by Diame wide out on the right allowed Agbonlahor to break down the left, he cut inside unchallenged and fired a superb shot from the edge of the penalty area past the despairing dive of the Wigan keeper.
Wigan were stung into action and a cross from Moses was deflected away for a corner, however Watson took a short corner and on receiving the ball back delivered a weak cross which was easily cleared by the Villa defence.
Wigancontinued to try and catch Villa on the break with Di Santo leading the line superbly, a poor pass to him on the edge of the penalty area was retrieved by him and his powerful shot narrowly went past the far post.
Half time came with Villa deserving their lead based on chances taken and the positivity of their approach leaving Roberto Martinez to try and raise Wigan’s performance if the away side was to take anything from this game
Villa however started the second half with far more purpose and Wigan’s defence almost conceded a second goal within a minute of the re-start when Agbonlahor was again allowed to cut inside unchecked and his curling shot narrowly missed the far post. Bent nearly had a clear chance but shot against the prone Caldwell who had slipped in the area.
Di Santo stumbled and bumbled his way into the area and went down looking for a penalty although it would have been very fortuitous if it had been awarded.
Bannen had a shot just wide for Villa and from this, Wigan broke from the back with a direct move which fell to Di Santo in the area, Dunne took the ball, man and all and a
corner was given but again Di Santo appealed in vain for a penalty. Once again the corner taken by Watson was very poor.
Wigan opted to make a change replacing Stam with McArthur, with Villa bringing on Latics old boy Emile Heskey for Steven Ireland.
Agbonlahor then turned provider, leaving the Wigan defenders trailing in his wake down the left and firing a cross over to Darren Bent who fired unchallenged by the static Wigan defence past Ali Al Habsi.
After that it was largely game over, Wigan tried to respond by bringing on Villa old boy Shaun Maloney as an attacking central midfielder and within a few minutes of coming onto the pitch he forced Given into his first real work of the afternoon when Given saved from both him and then Di Santo with the rebound.
Villa were content to sit back and defend the lead which allowed Wigan to push further forward but time and again there was a lack of Wigan bodies in the area both from set pieces and crosses with Di Santo increasing cutting a lone isolated figure up front.
Full time increased the losing streak to four dropping Wigan to fourth bottom in the fledgling league table and the lack of creativity from central midfield, the lack of wingers and the increasingly disjointed back four seems to indicate another season of struggle.
Team plus ratings
Di Santo ( 7 )
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