Wigan have impressive qualities and deserve greater recognition
Wigan hosted Arsenal yesterday lunchtime and put on a proud display of relentless hard running, team unity, strength, pace, skill and desire. I was really impressed by what I saw from a team that I had dismissed at the start of the season… in retrospect because of ignorance of the extent of their attributes.
Wigan lost 3-2 but this was a case of a team losing, but also winning at the same time. They started the better team only to be hit by two counter attacking goals of the highest order; one from RVP after a supreme control and pirourette around one of the Wigan centre-backs followed by decisive run towards the box and low hard finish, the second a clinical low finish into the far corner by Henry after a perfect through ball from Francesc.
This is when Wigan showed the excellent character which has propelled them to an amazing second place in their first ever Premiership season. They didn’t put their heads down; instead they kept on coming at Arsenal and pulled one back from a set piece free kick: Baines lifted the ball into the box, De Zeeuw headed it back across the goalmouth, and Camara showed a good stikers instict by flying low across the ground and heading it in.
Wigan regained their early momentum and were looking threatening before Henry's inch-perfect 32 yard free kick in the 41st minute: Andy Gray then remarking that 'world class' was not appropriate to describe TH… he was 'universal class!'. But again Wigan didn't lie down. Pascal Cygan this time woefully at fault (and not for the first time!!) as he got sucked out of his left back position into the centre of the pitch where he first failed to clear the ball despite reaching it marginally before the Wigan opponent, then failing to charge back into the left back position which was exploited by the persistent and impressive right midfielder Jimmy Bullard, who used the space to optimum effect and blasted the ball home past Lehmann.
So the half-time scoreline was 2-3, and everyone watching the entertainment- either at the JJB or at home on Sky- should have been thoroughly impressed by the Premiership new-boys.
The second half saw no goals. And although Arsenal had a greater control of possession, Wigan still showed team unity, fighting spirit, and good skill to keep the Gunners' on their toes. I was impressed by the front play of Camara and Roberts: who possess fearsome attributes of pace, power, and determination to surpass the vast majority of strike-partnerships in the Premiership. The four midfielders of Bullard, Francis, Kavanagh, and McCulloch are never-say-die players who attack and defend as a formidable unit. And once again Chimbonda was outstanding in supporting Bullard down the right-hand side: they definitely won their dual with Ljungberg and the catastrophic Cygan.
The great thing about the Wigan performance yesterday is that it's their norm, not their exception. They played with similar spirit on the opening day of the season against Chelsea, only to lose to an injury time curler by Crespo. They then lost 1-0 at Charlton, but since had gone on an unbeaten run of 10 wins and one draw in the Premiership and Carling Cup combined... which came to an end yesterday.
Despite this defeat, Wigan did impress me a lot. They possess a lot of qualities, and decisively show more hunger for the game than I have seen from most other Premiership teams. I personally look forward to seeing more of their matches over the rest of the season.