When you look at the two teams we have played in the last week you can see the massive contrast in the Premier League. One team (Reading) who had only won one game all season, and Manchester City who had yet to lose one all season. Two different games would ensue, one for the better and one for the worse.
First to Staurday’s important clash with Reading, which was already being earmarked as a must win six-pointer. In the eyes of both fans their teams are at the wrong end of the table, and you would have to argue after an enthralling 3-2 match at the DW Stadium why we both languish in the bottom half.
You could see the passion from the home players (Wigan) that winning this game was important and that we wanted the points. Yet not scoring in the first half could have killed us. Chances galore came a begging and it’s those kind of things which cost you games. Luckily for us Jordi Gomez picked his game up second half to pull the game back for Wigan.
The defending against Reading was unacceptable for the first goal, and could have been better for the second. At time we seem to shut off and struggle to concentrate on the little things, getting that half a yard to block a man off when defending a ball into the box, or just clearing the ball when you are in trouble.
There is a massive difference with passing the ball to open a team up, and playing a stupid pass to cause the opposition to attack us. That though comes down to the individual player’s decision making, if it is something we need to work on then let’s do that.
The good thing to take away from the Reading game was Mr Gomez’s inspiring three goal performance. Many people, including myself, have been critical of Jordi over the years for being lazy, slow and out muscled on the ball. His second half performance was what many thought was what we had signed him for, a controlling flair player who can set players up and get into the box and score. Now that he shown he can do it, he has to do it again and again.
Against Manchester City we saw a mixed performance from him. On the one side he was getting on the ball and looking to set players free and create the space, but on the other he wasn’t willing to track back and help the defensive side of the team. I don’t think that is something he will ever really do, but his on the ball involvement was top notch.
Another player who I was really impressed with against Manchester City was Adrian Lopez. He has been somewhat of an enigma since joining. His first Premier League appearance was against Manchester City and in that came, you felt that he would be able to handle himself in this league after a year with the Premier League lifestyle.
Yet last season he was a bit of a liability when he played, someone you felt would cause a goal rather than stop them. Is last day performance against Wolves was dire and you felt that maybe we would ship him off and allow the young Roman Golobart to take his place after an impressive season last year.
Credit to Lopez though, over the summer he has obviously worked hard and got his head down. I saw him play against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and I felt that he played really well then. Now having seen him playing against Manchester City I am even more impressed with the progress the player has made, it may not have been as rapid as Ivan Ramis, but Piscu (Lopez’s nickname) has shown he would make a good starting defender let alone cover.
The worries we had about being weak in depth must now be pushed aside, after two stellar performances by a mix match Wigan squad. None can really be faulted and it shows just how much of a team game football really is, as everyone has to be ready to chip in when needed.
You look at the players who started on Wednesday night, and you have to wonder who would come in and replace them if they continue in the same form. Gary Caldwell would have no right to come in and take any of the back three places, nor would a full fit Ben Watson deserve to get in ahead of a hard working David Jones.
It is wonderful to see, and will set us up well for the long haul; we are hardly in the days of having 11 top quality players and none else. The current squad has at least 20 players who can fit into the starting 11.
My final point to take away from the last two games is the one about our shots. Against Reading we had loads, and I know not many hit the target, but enough did to see us win the game. Whilst against Manchester City we went back into, walk the ball into the net mode. It’s time the players took it upon themselves to just have a go at goal more, any attempt is a good attempt just test the keeper and see what he is made of.