A slow start sums up Wigan’s first ten minutes or so. We looked a bit lax and sloppy and maybe a little bit hung-over from the Everton game. We did quickly put that behind us, and the combination of Jordi Gomez and James McCarthy worked well in the midfield to get the ball and keep it.
James the work horse closing players and making tackles, while Jordi was the man free picking the ball up and looking to start attacks; that is not to say Jordi didn’t win the ball, as he did a few times.
With this system it mean Maloney doesn’t drop very deep, and instead stays further up the pitch for more of the game, more or less having the free role off Arouna Kone up front. Maloney playing off Kone expertly, as he tried to create chances with support both from the left and right, for once this season.
That change was due to the first ever Premier League start of Callum McManaman who was had yet another good game. Beating players down the wing and looking to swing in deep searching balls. He got the assist for the first one, with the man on the left (Jean Beausejour) grabbing his first ever goal for Wigan.
So a very solid first half, with Antolin Alcaraz showing why we have missed him in our back three; Interceptions; tackles and headers galore from the Paraguayan defender. A back three of Alcaraz, Maynor Figueroa and Ivan Ramis would be a defence of beauty next season, if we get Alcaraz and Figgy tied down to new deals.
Second half this defence was tested more and held well, until Paul Scharner lost his head and played a silly ball into the path of Papiss Cisse. The striker set off David Santon, who eventually scored. Figueroa didn’t get close enough to the striker, and the defender was able to score.
The good thing to come out of that is we didn’t let our heads drop. The belief in the squad is at a new high now, you can see that. We pulled our sleeves and got to work. Frantically attacking the Newcastle goal in an attempt to score the winner, even though Newcastle were on top for a brief spell after their goal we dug deep and showed some real spirit that we are going to need.
It was a performance that had been coming, and one we need to have in every single one of our last nine games if we are to survive in the Premier League. Fighting to the final whistle and getting crucial three points.
We now need to do it all again when we face Norwich in eight days time at the DW Stadium.