Tottenham Hotspur v. Wigan Athletic: Match Report

Michael Regan

Spurs failed to capitalize on their early dominance and had to claw their way back into the match to salvage a point.

Well, this was stupid.

Spurs squandered a great chance to jump into third place and steal the initiative in the race for the Champions League. Instead, a lackluster second half against a Wigan side desperate to avoid the drop saw us barely escape with a point.

Tottenham started the match brightly, employing a 4-3-3 formation similar to the one we ended the Man City match with, with Parker coming back into the side at the expense of Lewis Holtby.

We dominated the early exchanges, with Bale heading inches wide from a Huddlestone free kick as early as the second minute. Kyle Walker had the beating of Beausejour all day and created several good chances.

It wouldn't take long for our early dominance to pay off, as Bale scored one of the most comical goals you'll see all season in the 9th minute. Bale chased down a terrible backpass from Figueroa to Robles and the keeper's clearance cannoned off the bottom of Bale's outstretched right foot straight back into the top corner of the goal.

Of course, Spurs can never make anything easy on themselves. Less then a minute later, McManaman beat Vertonghen down the wing, and the Spurs defender poked the ball away from a corner. Vertonghen was then beaten again from the resulting corner, easily outjumped by Emerson Boyce who nodded home the equalizer.

Unfazed by the reversal of fortune, Spurs stayed on top for most of the first half. Huddlestone kept trying to loft balls over the back line for Spurs' attacking players to run on to, but we never managed to quite make things click. Our long balls fell most frequently to Defoe and Walker. The Wigan defense did just enough to put Defoe off his shooting, and Walker couldn't manage to find anyone in the box with his crossing.

Our best chance of the half came when Defoe burst into the box after a great ball from Huddlestone. The wee man tried to round the keeper, but Robles did just enough to get his fingers to the ball and take it off Defoe's foot. Parker followed the play and latched onto the ball, but rather than shoot first time he decided to take a few touches, dribbling straight into the keeper's still-outstretched arm.

Two injuries marred the first half, with Figueroa stretchered off with a groin pull and Mousa Dembele injuring his hamstring, replaced by Lewis Holtby.

The second half kicked off, and Spurs looked a completely different team. Wigan got on top early and made Spurs pay for their slow start. In the 48th minute, McManaman collected the ball on the top of the box, muscled his way inside Kyle Naughton and rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

Wigan stayed on top for the next 15 minutes, when AVB finally decided to do something about it. In a tactical masterstroke he replaced Naughton with . . . Assou-Ekotto? This baffling decision to make a like for like left back change while trailing mystified supporters and did nothing to impact the course of the game.

A minute later, Spurs should have found themselves facing 10 men, when Jordi Gomez launched a high kick at Holtby's face/chest area while already on a yellow card, but the ref waved it off. Spurs could have very much used the help, because they still didn't look like getting back into the game.

In the 73rd minute, AVB tossed the dice with his last substitution, bringing on the returning Aaron Lennon for Scott Parker. This saw our formation switch from the 4-3-3 to more of 4-4-2, with Lennon and Bale playing wide and Dempsey moving behind Defoe in the middle.

We had a couple of decent moves, but never really looked like scoring. But in the 87th minute, Kyle Walker beat Beauseejour, earning a free kick on the right side of Wigan's box. Hudd shocked everyone by playing a low pass in to Gareth Bale instead of lofting it into the box. Bale scuffed a shot backwards into Emerson Boyce, and the ball bounced off the unfortunate defender and straight into the back of the net.

Spurs tried to steal all three points, and almost made it happen in the 94th minute. Defoe won a free kick at the edge of the box and Robles could only parry Bale's effort. The ball fell straight to Tom Huddlestone 8 yards out and the midfielder should have finally earned his haircut, but he blasted it straight back at the keeper. The ball pinged around the box, with Defoe's acrobatic attempt blocked by Boyce and Dempsey's tame effort cleared away, before the whistle went and the match ended all square.

Four points from matches against Wigan and City aren't terrible, but after doing the hard part and bagging three against City, winning today's match should have been the easy part.Our top four destiny is now out of our hands, and we desperately need United and Swansea to take points off our rivals.

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