The final whistle in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal signalled half time for Wigan’s season and it was with mixed emotions and not a small amount of trepidation that I left the ground talking with friends about the second half of the season and what it will bring for us.
Firstly, the game against Arsenal. I took along a friend who’d I’d bought a ticket for and as he said, he’s rarely spent £27 better. Pulsating, end to end, full of incident - difficult to tell who were the Champions League regulars and the perennial Premiership bottom feeders.
Rescuing a point from a losing position against any Arsenal team, squad rotated or not, is some achievement and I believe, except for a brief red mist descending on a normally impeccably behaved player, we may have gone on to win the game. We will never know.
What we do know is that while instrumental in the draw against Wenger’s side, the loss of Charles N’Zogbia for the next three games will severely dent our hopes of securing the potentially winnable game against Newcastle and a trip to The Reebok that traditionally yields at least a point.
So half time for Latics and how’s it been? Twenty points out of 19 games is not a bad tally when looking at previous seasons and latterly the team’s tenacious performances have secured points that would previously have been lost. I imagine no team now looks forward to a trip to the DW - they may not deafened by the crowd but they will certainly will get a game.
The 20 points we have currently would be enough, if repeated, to guarantee the magic 40 point survival total, but who’d to say that’s enough this year? Currently seven points separate 10th from 20th place. This year anything can and does happen!
Considering the team’s overall performances and recently our Holy Trinity of Cleverley, Rodallega and N’Zogbia and their ability to terrify defences, it is clearer than ever that we need someone to clean up after the mayhem that these guys create in the opposition penalty area.
All teams prize strikers, hence the big bucks we all pay, but no team needs a striker more than the Latics. A 5-7 goal count for another player in the team and we would be top ten now. We supporters have lost count of the number of times a ball has flashed across an open goal unattended by both defenders and strikers or only the final touch on an excellent cross was required to score.
We have had the players to do this before - Amr Zaki was magnificent, albeit briefly, but we also had Marcus Bent, Antoine Sibierski, Jason Roberts, Henri Camara etc. etc. - all of them having what Latics require in spades.
So, the half term report:
"Excellent overall effort but lack of attention to detail in the final third could condemn you to undeserved poor exam results come the summer - you need to use a sharper pencil. Or buy some new ones."
Happy New Year. I hope.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.