From our Special Correspondent – Jamie Aspinall.
Norwich City were like an electronics shop crammed with Plasma TV’s helplessly waiting for Wigan to come along as the low-life looters and smash their way in to take what they please. The only problem being, Wigan didn’t possess a striking implement and were unable to force an entry into the Norwich goal from open play and failed to walk away with, what should have been an easy three points.
It took a well executed Ben Watson penalty to give the Wigan faithful an optimistic feeling that this wasn’t going to be anything like last season’s opener against Blackpool, but that feeling was short lived once Wigan failed to look convincing in front of goal. The biggest criminal of all was Franco Di Santo. Having been allocated the new number 9 shirt, he appeared to have a new fire in his belly and was making frantic runs forward which did very fortunately result in him being bundled over by De Laet’s clumsy challenge just inside the box. His energy could have also gained Wigan a second penalty not long after, when Russell Martin clearly stuck a foot out to catch Di Santo’s leg but the dramatic fall to ground made the referee Stuart Attwell believe it was a dive.
The problem is that if Di Santo hadn’t been brought to the ground, then what are the chances of him actually beating the keeper, or at least hitting the target? He clearly doesn’t have that natural striker’s instinct of where the goal is as he proved on a number of occasions. The most disappointing was when a ball came over the top of the defence and Di Santo had enough time to control the ball, set himself up for a shot and write a post on his twitter page, but instead he panicked and softly headed the ball from a ridiculous angle and distance with an effort that resembled a back pass.
It was not surprising then that he and the lacklustre Gomez, who I can’t remember contributing anything, where swiftly swapped for Rodallega and Sammon in the second half. The introduction of the two substitutes was met by the fans with a large applause but it did not have the impact expected. The biggest contribution towards a goal was Sammon’s strong run and pass across the box to Ben Watson who casually struck the ball with the outside of his boot only for it to cannon off the keeper’s right-hand post. Watson who was by far one of the greatest performers during the 90 minutes carried on his form from the end of last season and was my man of the match. The official man of the match was given to Victor Moses who appears to now have become our new Charles N’Zogbia and one of our only hopes for a goal. He was electric down the left flank and left his markers tripping over themselves with his trickery but failed to have that cutting edge final ball or bit of luck that his effort deserved. Moses has been scoring for fun in the pre-season friendly’s, however in the competitive Premiership games he still seems a little panicky in front of goal and hopefully with a few more starts he can start finding the target more often.
I don’t want to be unfair to the well supported Norwich team as they dug deep and probably merited a point due to the fact they never gave up, but they did not have a lot to offer in the game in terms of chances and quality and I felt they looked like a Championship team at times, it should have been an easy victory for Wigan. It may well be that Norwich were finding their feet and didn’t want to take too many risks away from home in the hope they could take a point and if this is the case then they achieved their aim. In my view though, Norwich were poor and struggled to play the ball to one another with any flow or clear direction. They couldn’t deal with Wigan hassling them off the ball and will need to improve on many levels in order to keep their premiership dream alive. They did however take their chance when it came to them, which is something we regularly fail to do.
The foundations are in place for us to become a strong mid-table team and we should be reasonably happy with a point in the circumstances, it just feels like we need to find our next Ellington, Roberts or Zaki (before he self destructed) as it has been a long time since we could rely on a centre forward to find the back of the net consistently. It is imperative that we strengthen our attack as soon as possible. Our great passing football deserves it.