Festive cheer and merriment was the mood of the day, as many happy people filled up with food and hoped, headed towards Goodison Park. The Evertonians were expecting their side to sweep away a lowly Wigan side, while we Wiganers were expecting our side to step up and carve out some sort of result.
It was a first half, that as an away side you have to be happy with. You stop the home side getting on the ball, you limit their attacking chances, and then you try to hit them quick on the counter attack. This is much the same way we have gotten results away from home under Martinez, and at half time after a very good first half you had to feel confident of us doing it again.
Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe were causing the Latics defense problems. The pace and technical talent of one and the power and the physical control of the other was something we had to work as a unit to control. With the return of Gray Caldwell returning to lead and instruct the team, we looked a lot more organised in the first half than we have done in the past few games.
At the other end, Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney were linking up well when they got their chances on the ball. Maloney playing further up the pitch than he would normally, with Franco Di Santo sitting on the bench, yet James McCarthy and James McArthur were controlling the middle of the pitch and able to find Shaun.
We weren't really able to force the issue though and our best first half chance came from a Shaun Maloney freekick. However the powerful strike was easily saved by Tim Howard who stepped to his left to collect the ball. Apart from that the Everton defense stood strong.
The second half started with a change for Everton as Steven Naismith came on for an injured Darron Gibson, and within 6 minutes of the restart of the game, Everton were 1-0 up. Leon Osman got the goal, on the edge of the box, the midfielder had a shot which was deflected away from Ali Al Habsi who was wrong footed by the shot. Nothing he could have done their, but Osman should have been closed down sooner and the ball cleared, instead he was given time to pick his spot and shoot.
Latics reared their heads and went on the attack, they wanted something from this game and they felt they could get it. Maloney going more direct won a corner, which was delivered beautifully for Gray Caldwell to knock down into the box, and then go wide. More positive and much better from Latics.
More time on the ball and Arouna Kone was willing the ball to his feet. A low cross into the Everton box was aimed at the free Arouna Kone, yet Phil Neville got in the way of the ball and stopped the chance of an equalizer. Yet it would be Everton who would got the second goal to break Latics hearts.
Phil Jagielka rising above Caldwell, managed to power home a header from a Phil Neville cross. The game was wrapped up for Everton you felt. Yet we are Wigan we are resolute and we don't tend to take going down well. We regrouped, we brought on Jordi Gomez for Ronnie Stamm, and we had our goal.
Shaun Maloney's shoot looped up and into the air. Everton failed to clear the ball and allowed Kone to squeeze through them and tap the ball home, 2-1 and you wondered if we could get a second and a point. Yet the hope which had just been rekindled lasted to the end of the game.
Nothing happened though, and Everton were able to hold out and take all three points, as Wigan drop deeper into danger.