It was another disappointing outing for the Latics on Sunday as they succumbed to a mediocre Wolves team at Molineux. Both teams were desperate to overcome a run of poor results to climb away from the bottom of the table, but it was Wolves who emerged victorious in this ‘six pointer’.
Tension was evident amongst both sets of players and supporters during the early exchanges. Wigan had been matching the home team for possession, but then in the 21st minute, the complexion of the game changed around two significant moments. Firstly Hugo Rodallega missed a gilt-edged chance to score and put Wigan ahead when he shot wide with only Wayne Hennessey to beat. Then only 30 seconds later, Wolves went down the other end and scored as Jamie O’Hara expertly swept in Kevin Doyle’s centre.
Wigan reacted well and created several opportunities before Stephen Hunt fouled Emmerson Boyce and conceded a penalty. Ben Watson’s penalty was initially pushed out by Wayne Hennessey, but Watson followed up to equalise.
Surely it would be game on and Wigan’s controlled passing game would start to impose itself.
But it was not to be, as early in the second half Wolves regained their lead, Karl Henry skipped past Steve Gohouri to get to the byline before crossing into the six-yard box. Al-Habsi saved from Hunt at point-blank range and then brilliantly denied O’Hara, before Edwards crashed home with the Wigan defenders in disarray.
The crucial third goal was not dissimilar, Matt Jarvis breaking down the same left flank shrugging off Boyce and cutting back for Edwards, whose shot was blocked by Alcaraz. Al-Habsi then thwarted O’Hara and Ward pounced on the loose ball to make it 3-1.
Ali Al-Habsi was once again excellent in the Wigan goal and made a string of great saves, with one in particular from Berra in the miraculous category.
Wigan created three good chances late on with Sammon’s flick and Gohouri’s header saved by Hennessey and Mohamed Diamé shooting into the side-netting.
As per the Fulham game the key statistics show that Wigan had been the better team. Shots All Attempts – Wigan 17 to Wolves 13. Possession – Wigan 51.5% to Wolves 48.5%. Passes Completed – Wigan 78% to Wolves 69%*. But once again Wigan’s failure is in not taking the chances created.
There is a rumour circulating that Martinez doesn’t spend enough time coaching the strikers, but even if this were true, for most strikers goal scoring is an instinctive thing. The crucial point to be made is that we don’t have a consistent goal scorer in the squad, we haven’t got a fifteen goals a season player to call on. So far this season Franco Di Santo has scored three, but Rodallega, Moses, and Sammon have yet to score.
We need someone who can finish, Boselli was supposed to be the answer but unfortunately he was an expensive mistake. January and the transfer window is still a long way off, so we need to look for solutions in-house.
Playing Conor Sammon in place of the out-of-form Hugo Rodallega is a likely option and adopting a more positive attacking approach will be required if we are to get anything from the Blackburn game. Getting more players into attacking positions will be crucial.
Some would argue that Martinez is at fault for the style of football and for picking the players. But the players are capable of much better and they need to take responsibility for the results. In many ways Martinez has been let down by their inability to finish and some desperately poor defending.
Following the game, TV evidence showed Antolin Alcaraz spitting at Richard Stearman after an altercation in the Wolves penalty box. The FA are now likely to suspend Alcaraz for three matches. Alcaraz’s indiscipline is typical of how the Wigan players have pressed the self-destruct button this season.
Unless the players take more responsibility, take their chances and be professional on the pitch we may have to start talking about the dreaded ‘R’ word.
* Match Stats supplied by 442 Stats Zone