Wigan stay in the bottom three following a defeat to high flying Everton , serving up a performance high on effort but woefully lacking in pace and quality.
Roberto Martinez opted to switch from his preferred 343 for the second game on the trot, eschewing the 442 used against Arsenal on Saturday this time employing a 451, with Kone operating as a lone forward and Di Santo dropping to the bench with a welcome return for captain Gary Caldwell.
This was an unfamiliar line up for the WIgan team and fans alike and it nearly cost them when within two minutes Everton were allowed to break unchallenged through the middle and Anichebe wasted a good chance shooting over.
In a game played in driving rain both sides tried to play the ball along the ground with Wigan’s triumverate of the two James Mc’s…Arthur and Carthy alongside David Jones looking to control centre midfield and Everton looking to exploit Wigan’s lack of pace out wide, with Pienaar and Baines having a great deal of success attacking the Wigan right flank.
Everton dominated the positional play and in one five minute spell, five corner,s one after the other tested the Wigan defence and the last one left the home fans baying for a penalty for handball.
Pienaar was at the heart of everything good about Everton’s play this afternoon and one slight of foot by Baines left Stam sprawling on the sodden turf and his cross found the South African whose shot was deflected wide.
Everton’s two big men up front worked well in tandem and Boyce, Figueroa and Caldwell had to be on top of their game, in contrast to Wigan with Kone ploughing a lonely furrow on his own easily shackled by Distin and Jagielka.
On the occasion when Wigan did reach the opposition’s penalty area they seemed shot shy,putting in an extra pass sending the ball wide rather than shooting at goal.
The first half in total was short on quality play from either side, with a midfield battle ensuing that both sides when in the dry for their half time cuppa were content with the score but knowing an increased effort would be required if anything other than draw was to be acheived.
Everton started the second half by far the stronger, upping the tempo and putting Wigan on the back foot and with the away side seemed unable to clear their line, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before Everton opened the scoring. Hitzlsperger fired a powerful shot which beat Al Habsi’s dive but bounced off the cross bar
Latics continued to struggle under pressure and the ominous portents regarding the opening goal proved true but the goal when it came had a massive amount of luck attached to it. Osman was allowed far too much room on the edge of the penalty area and his fierce shot took a wicked deflection off Caldwell, totally wrong footing Al Habsi who appeared to have the shot covered and the Toffees were ahead.
Everton continued to pressurise Wigan who looked ragged in defence, disjointed in midfield and impotent in attack with only Maloney looking dangerous and indeed the Scotsman had a good shout for a penalty waved away, when he twisted Osman inside and out but there appeared to be hardly any contact as he went down and Lee Mason waved away the protestations.
Very soon and not for the first time this season Latics conceeded a second goal and not unusally it was as the result of poor marking from a set piece when Jagielka rose unchallenged to head into the far corner effectively killing the game.
Wigan’s team spirit never flagged and with the introduction of Di Santo whose passing and vision had been sadly missed, fed the ball through to Kone who used his power and strength to scramble the ball over the line.
Roared on by the Wigan travelling faithful including over one hundred bananas pressed for an equiliser but Everton comfortably held on, leaving Wigan fans hoping that an influx of talent in the January transfer window will be enough to spark another great escape.
Team line up and ratings
Al Habsi…..7 had little to do
Boyce…..7. worked hard
Caldwell….7 unlucky to conceed the own goal.
Figueroa…..6 out of position for the second goal.
Stam…..5 given a torrid time by Baines and Pienaar.
Beausejour…..5 reluctant to go forward and can’t defend
McCarthy…..6 worked hard
Jones……7 Another good performance
Maloney……7.5. Man of Match , only creative spark in starting eleven.
Kone…..6.5 worked hard and deserved a goal for his effort.
Di Santo for Jones…….7, should start on Saturday
Gomez……n/a little chance to influence proceedings
referee Lee Mason
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