Friday, November 24, 2006

Wigan Preview

Its Wigan at home on Sunday as Spurs are dealt another favourable home game after a Thursday night UEFA match. Someone must have been having a word somewhere as so far it’s been so good after UEFA games:

After Salvia Prague (A): Tottenham 0-0 Fulham
After Slavia Prague (H): Tottenham 2-1 Portsmouth
After Besiktas (A): Tottenham 1-0 West Ham
After Club Brugge (H): Tottenham 2-1 Chelsea
After Bayer Leverkusen (A): Tottenham ?-? Wigan

The run does come to an end after Dinamo Bucharest as we go to Middlesbrough, but it has been a useful little quirk of the fixture list for a team not used to playing twice a week. Particularly after our “record” number of games last year – the fewest ever if all the Gooner and Hammer statisticians from last season were correct.

Wigan are a funny little club, only having been in the league for less than 30 years, and coming from a Rugby League town they are way down on the list of things you think about when someone mentions Wigan. After Andy Farrell, and of course The Verve, Wigan is famous for having and then not having a pier. Very strange. Wigan Athletic, as the football club are known, in 1972 applied to join the Scottish Football League as they weren’t getting anywhere in England! Still once JJB’s Dave Whelan took over things started looking up, and with the appointment of Paul Jewell they took the Championship by storm. They did excellently last season as well, and confounded most people who thought they would go straight back down. They have had it hard this season though as Spurs stepped in and bought their best player, Pascal Chimbonda, and they lost Jason Roberts, their target man, and replaced him with Emile Heskey.

Heskey aside, Wigan still represent a tough task for Spurs on Sunday. They are one of the teams that chase and press, fight for every ball and work their socks off. The opposite of Spurs, and just the sort of team we can’t cope with. See Reading and Bolton away and Everton at home for evidence if you’re not sure. Last season they kept knocking the ball up to Scharner at White Hart Lane and he won absolutely everything against Dawson and caused no end of bother. We scraped a 2-2 draw in the end, but it wasn’t pretty and we lucky to come away with a point.

As usual Jol and Hughton have to sift out the dead and wounded from the previous battle and work out who is fit enough to play. In an ideal world, you would pick the same team that started last night, as without JJ it was our first choice eleven. BMJ picked the same side for the Chelsea game that started against Brugge, so its possible, and that worked out OK so why not? Either way, what ever combination of players is picked, they should be too much for Wigan, but Spurs still need to match them for effort. If they do that then there is no reason why we shouldn’t steam roller them and warm up nicely for a certain derby game on December 2nd.

It would be good for Berbatov to score in the league, and Keane looks like he really needs a goal but you have to fancy Chimbonda to get on the score sheet against his old club. He came very close to breaking his duct last night, and if he’s fit enough to play it could be one of those peculiar twists of fate that football throws up – just like Berbatov scoring against Bayer Leverkusen. One suspects Pascal might celebrate rather more flamboyantly than Dimi did though, given his rather acrimonious departure from Wigan. Anything less than a win will be a poor return for a nearly fully fit Spurs team, who have to start performing in the league sooner rather than later.

Come On You Spurs!

The Waddler.