Wigan recorded only their second home win and first back to back wins of the season as they thoroughly outplayed a rather jaded looking Stoke outfit.
Wigan competed for every ball with their traditionally physical opponents but it was their neat tiki-taka play that made the difference between the two sides.
Shaun Maloney, James McCarthy, James McArthur carried on from their fine performances against Liverpool with some neat interplays and determined closing down.
Stoke’s long ball tactics were expertly dealt with by Wigan’s back line, in particular Gary Caldwell and Antolin Alcaraz stood up well to Stoke’s aerial bombardment. Peter Crouch is one of the most difficult characters to nullify in the air but Wigan coped admirably and limited their opponents to only a few half chances.
Wigan on the other hand created chance after chance. In the opening minutes Franco Di Santo had a one on one with Asmir Begovic but the Argentinian striker fired straight at the keeper’s legs and the ball went out for a corner.
Soon afterwards Jean Beausejour had another great opportunity when he found himself unmarked in the six yard box but he miss hit his shot and Robert Huth cleared the danger.
Shaun Maloney had a great volley saved by Begovic and soon after another attempt from outside the box which the keeper spilled for a corner. The Bosnian goalkeeper was looking uncomfortable under pressure and he was by far the busier keeper as Wigan pressed forward.
Beausejour and Emmerson Boyce were a constant threat and Boyce had a great chance when only a yard from goal, after a superb cross field pass by Maloney, but instead of hitting the ball first time he attempted to bring it under control and the opportunity was wasted.
Throughout the half Wigan had moved the ball from side to side changing the point of attack and creating many problems for the Stoke defenders. Maloney and Moses made inroads into the Stoke penalty area, but despite Wigan’s dominance the teams went in level at the break.
Early in the second half Dean Whitehead clearly handled the ball in the Stoke penalty area but referee Clattenburg waved away Wigan’s appeals for a penalty. However, it was not long before justice was done as Latics scored an exquisite goal. Beausejour put in an inch perfect cross and from ten yards out Antolin Alcaraz headed powerfully into the right hand corner of the Stoke net.
Soon afterwards Beausejour had another amazing opportunity when from Ben Watson’s free kick he was left free in front of goal but he scuffed his shot and the ball went tamely to Begovic.
At one nil Wigan could never be totally confident of the result but Stoke rarely tested Ali Al Habsi despite the introduction of Ricardo Fuller, Wilson Palacios and Cameron Jerome.
In stoppage time Wigan sealed the result after an excellent piece of work by Moses. He snatched the ball off Andy Wilkinson on the half way line and raced towards goal before rounding Begovic and tapping the ball into the Stoke net.
It was a day for football purists, with Wigan’s excellent tiki-taka style of football overcoming the long ball and physical approach adopted by Stoke.
If this style of play and level of performance can be maintained in the remaining seven games Wigan Athletic will be playing Premier League football again next season.