Seven points from the last four games represents a better return than our first 12 games of the season, I think that says it all. The late, late penalty given to Blackburn in a game that really should have been won has seemed to galvanise the squad, focusing the players and in particular the defence, who in return have been showing more resolve (bar the 4-0 thrashing at home to Arsenal) than they have done all season. We are finally showing the fighting spirit of the last half of the EPL 2010/11.
The game against Chelsea was an intriguing contest statistically, as the basic stats provided above show.
As you can see possession is relatively equal, with Wigan just shading it. The home side were also more accurate in their shooting testing Cech 6 times, with Chelsea only managing 2 attempts on target. The percentage of accurate passes was relatively even with Wigan completing 411 to Chelsea’s 397. Wigan’s wide players were more consistent hitting their targets with crosses, whilst more corners were awarded to Wigan and the defence of Chelsea were asked to make more tackles. From this, it is pretty plain to see Wigan deserved their point, if not more, yet on the balance of play either set of supporters shouldn’t begrudge the other a point, whether that would be met with celebrations or commiserations.
Gary Caldwell, Antolin Alcaraz and Maynor Figueroa
As has been the tactic adopted in recent weeks, Wigan employed three centre backs for the majority of the match, with a more attacking approach taken by Martinez when they went a goal down. Although some blame must be put onto these players for Daniel Sturridge’s well taken goal, this defensive method limited Chelsea to relatively few opportunities and coped all but once with the 19 crosses put into the home sides danger area, a very impressive statistic.
The table above shows the defensive work the team got through. Gary Caldwell led from the back, with an impressive 5 successful clearances from an attempted 8, Figueroa was the most efficient of the back three with 4 from 8 and finally the less fruitful Alcaraz with 2 from 6. Breaking that down further Caldwell and Figueroa both completed a total of 3 successful headed clearances from 5 and 4 attempts respectively, and Alcaraz totalled 2 from 4 clearances with the noggin. This, supplemented by the defensive work from James McCarthy and Jordi Gomez, who both successfully cleared the ball from the box twice, dealt Chelsea few opportunities to test Al Habsi, something they only managed to do twice. Although top sides, with the quality players at their disposal need only one chance to score, against relegation rivals this defensive effort would have probably kept the opposition scoreless.
Goals Change Games
The goal from Sturridge forced a change of tact from both managers. AVB chose to introduce a holding midfielder to sure up the shaky defence, whereas Martinez adopted a more attacking philosophy, with the lively Di Santo and surging Rodallega coming on to replace Sammon and Jones, two players who in their own right had good, solid games. The three strikers cum wingers of Moses, Di Santo and Rodallega backed up with the floating Gomez and Diame caused Chelsea all sorts of problems in the final 20 minutes, which eventually resulted in a well deserved goal and point gained from the boot of Gomez.
This result will have given the Latics a further confidence boost running into two more games against top opposition, starting with Liverpool at home on Wednesday and onto Man United away on Boxing day. Hopefully these games, will provide more of the same defensive stability Wigan showed against Chelsea, which in turn will give our attack the chance to nick a goal or two.