Premier League. Saturday 24th September 2011. DW Stadium. 3pm Kick Off.
Wigan. A team that have been struggling and scrapping around the bottom of the table for most of their Premier League life. Wigan. A team that Spurs destroyed 9-1 at White Hart Lane in 2009. Wigan. A team that Roberto Martinez has playing nice football, that many have tipped for the drop this year. Wigan. A team that took 4 points from Spurs last season.
It all sounds so typical doesn’t it? A decent footballing side that Spurs should destroy and yet last season they took 3 points away from The Lane and then held out against a spluttering strike force to claim a home point. Obviously that was a feature of last season, Spurs playing well against the lower teams yet coming up with virtually nothing to show for it. It’s no secret that at least one win over Wigan, Wolves, WBA, West Ham and Blackpool would have seen Spurs take a Champions League place comfortably. Too often last season, it was all domination and no penetration. Sounds like a recipe for rubbish porn and poor football. A great win, inspired by the debutants at Wolves followed by a fine performance against Liverpool suggests that we may be looking at a different story this year for Spurs. Will this be the case on Saturday?
The biggest news coming out of Wigan is the injury to probably their best player, Hugo Rodallega. His absence will be keenly felt by Roberto Martinez and his team and a lot of responsibility will fall upon Victor Moses. Wigan’s young English forward was much touted when he was at Crystal Palace and some were surprised when he chose the Latics over bigger clubs. Moses had a slow start but is now beginning to show the potential that brought him to the Premier League. Along with Moses, Wigan will look to Franco di Santo to trouble Spurs back line and James McCarthy may also have a big part to play. Ali Al-Habsi will have a big role to play if Wigan are to keep the fired up Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe at bay. The Omani keeper can be inspired but can also have lapses in concentration, any of those will be pounced upon mercilessly by Spurs attackers who are now clearly hungry for goals.
After the excellent performance against Liverpool at The Lane there are unlikely to be many changes although Rafa Van der Vaart may well come in for Niko Kranjcar to play from the right. Last season this caused problems, with the right back being left exposed and resulting in Spurs conceding. With Kyle Walker starting to look like a one-man right wing and Scott Parker adding more defensive responsibility in midfield then this could well work now. There are others now coming back into contention and William Gallas, Sandro along with possibly Huddlestone and Pienaar could give Redknapp some good selection problems. Luka Modric’s goal last week seemed to reinvigorate the Croatian as has his burgeoning partnership with Scott Parker. Those two should be able to dominate the Wigan midfield and get Bale and Van der Vaart/Kranjcar into the game and provide opportunities for Adebayor and Defoe. At the back, Brad Friedel is set to continue in goal. If Ledley King is able to keep up his game a week routine then Spurs new assuredness in defence should continue despite any threat that Wigan may muster. I expect Spurs to line up like this: Friedel; Walker; Kaboul; King; Assou-Ekotto; Van der Vaart; Parker; Modric; Bale; Adebayor; Defoe.
For all Wigan’s pretty football, Spurs do it better and have stronger players in every position. If Redknapp can continue to keep his side motivated for these kind of games then there is no reason to believe that Spurs won’t come away with anything less than a win at the DW Stadium. I believe Adebayor and Defoe will continue their goalscoring form, the defence to continue their solidity and expect Spurs to run out 3-0 winners.
Stuart Watts ( @Studub on Twitter )
Spurs win: Evens
Wigan win: 11-4
My prediction (Spurs 3-0): 14-1
First Spurs goalscorer:
Van der Vaart & Pavlyuchenko 7-1