Friday, September 23, 2011

Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Spurs Look to Improve on Last Season

Last season Tottenham's record against teams at the wrong end of the Premier League was disappointing and ultimately cost them the chance of securing a second Champions League campaign.  The opportunity to improve starts against Wigan and is essential if Tottenham are going to make any significant challenge this year.

With no disrespect to Wigan Athletic, it was results against teams like them that were the root cause of Tottenham failing to secure a Champions League place.  Last year the two matches yielded just one point.  In August, 2010 Wigan caused an upset by winning at White Hart Lane, their single goal victory coming just days after Spurs had secured their place in the group stages of the Champions League with a four goal success over Young Boys, Berne.  Wigan were the only team to take three points at White Hart Lane and the result was even more surprising as they had lost heavily in their opening two games of the season. The return game was a dour goal-less struggle in April when Spurs  had lost form and Wigan were battling relegation.  This struggle went on to the final day of the season but Wigan held on to their Premier League place for a sixth successive season.

Tottenham have recovered from a poor start with successive victories at Wolves and 4 - 0 over Liverpool last weekend.  Although losing in mid-week with a weakened team in the Carling Cup at Stoke, they will be looking to continue on the winning trail in the Premier League at Wigan and Harry Redknapp will turn to his strongest team for this match.  He will be hoping that Ledley King will be fit to play his third successive League game, while William Gallas is returning to fitness having played for the Spurs XI earlier in the week.  The decision of fitting Rafael Van der Vaart into the team will become an issue again if Niko Kranjcar is fit after going off at half-time against Liverpool.  Van der Vaart recovered from injury sooner than expected and was on the bench last weekend before replacing Kranjcar.  He then played at Stoke for over an hour and will be looking to start at Wigan.  Jermain Defoe has scored in the last two League games and Emmanuel Adebayor has three goals from his first two appearances for Spurs.  Fitting all of them into the team will be depend on the manager's decision on formation and whether he can play Van der Vaart as part of a midfield four - wide on the right but free to roam.

Wigan's season opened with three games against the promoted teams - they drew with Norwich and at Swansea before defeating QPR 2 - 0 at home.  They have now lost twice, away to both Manchester City (0 - 3) and Everton (1 - 3).  They went out of the Carling  Cup defeated 1 - 2 at Crystal Palace.  Last weekend's defeat at Everton also saw them lose their striker, Hugo Rodallega, through injury which will keep him out for three months.  Three of their four League goals have been scored by Franco Di Santo whom they signed from Chelsea for £2 million in August, 2010.  However, prior to this season, in over 50 League games the young Argentine striker had only managed two goals.

Previous Results:
Apr. 2011 PL (a) Draw 0 - 0
Aug. 2010 PL (h) Lost 0 - 1
Feb. 2010 PL (a) Won 3 - 0 Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (2)
Nov. 2009 PL (h) Won 9 - 1 Defoe (5), Crouch, Lennon, Kranjcar, Bentley
Jan. 2009 PL (a) Lost 0 - 1
Jan. 2009 FA Cup (3rdR) (h) Won 3 - 1 Pavlyuchenko (2, (1pen), Modric
Sept. 2008 PL (h) Draw 0 - 0
Apr. 2008 PL (a) Draw 1 - 1 Berbatov
Nov. 2007 PL (h) Won 4 - 0 Jenas (2), Lennon, Bent
Apr. 2007 PL (a) Draw 3 - 3 Keane (2, (1pen)) Berbatov
Nov. 2006 PL (h) Won 3 - 1 Berbatov, Defoe, Lennon
Feb. 2006 PL (h) Draw 2 - 2 Mido, Defoe
Nov. 2005 PL (a) Won 2 - 1 Keane, Davids

Memorable Matches:
The 9 - 1 mauling at White Hart Lane will never be forgotten, only a goal ahead at he interval through an early Crouch header, Wigan totally collapsed in the second half.  Two early second half goals set Spurs up but Wigan pulled one back although it should have been disallowed for handball.  Spurs seemed aggrieved at that decision and it seemed to spur them into action.  Defoe completed his hat-trick in seven minutes and went on to get five.  Aaron Lennon scored and Bentley and Kranjcar added two late strikes.

The first ever match between the two sides was the Premier League game in 2005.  It is notable for the first, and only, goal scored for Spurs by the Dutch master, Edgar Davids, which ensured the victory.

He Played for Both Clubs:
Wilson Palacios who joined Stoke in August for £6 million came from Wigan in January, 2009 for £12 million. 

Pascal Chimbonda also signed from Wigan for £4.5 million in the summer of 2006.  He was a member of the Carling Cup winning team in 2008.   He left for Sunderland in July, 2008 but returned to Spurs the following January.

Tottenham will be hoping to continue on their winning ways in League matches so as they don't continue to inhabit the lower regions of the table.  Having played one match less than everyone else and starting with defeats to the two Manchester sides means they are constantly lagging behind in the table and any further losses will damage their prospects of a top finish.  This situation will continue for some time as there is no imminent date available to play their outstanding game against Everton.


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