Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v Wigan Athletic
White Hart Lane, London N17 - The World Famous Home of the Spurs
Sunday 22nd November 2009, Kick Off 15:00
Premier League, Match 13
Tottenham Hotspur: 4th in Premier League, 22 points from 36
Wigan Athletic: 13th in Premier League, 14 points from 36
Referee: Peter Walton
Assistant referees: Nick Kinseley & Mike Bull
Fourth official: Keith Hill
Tottenham Hotspur host Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane on Sunday 22nd November in the first Premier League game after the international break in which England played a friendly against Brazil in Qatar. The England squad featured four Spurs players - Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch, all of whom were on the field at the end of the match with Huddlestone making his full England debut. Meanwhile in Paris, Robbie Keane's 41st goal for Ireland wasn't enough to get them to the World Cup Finals.
Spurs had a hard-fought 2-0 win over Sunderland last time out and Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes performed miracles, including a penalty save from ex-Spur Darren Bent, to keep a clean sheet. The Spurs goals came from Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone with assists provided by Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. The win lifted Tottenham back into the top four. Wigan Athletic had a 1-1 home draw against Fulham with their goal coming from Emmerson Boyce following an assist by Paul Scharner. The draw left Wigan in 13th place in the table and was played-out in front of the lowest Premier League crowd of the season so far - 16,172.
Spurs have a good record against Wigan and have only lost once in nine meetings. The teams met three times last season with Spurs drawing the League game 0-0 at White Hart Lane and beating Wigan in the FA Cup Third Round 3-1 at the Lane with goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko (2) and Luka Modric for Spurs and Henri Camara for Wigan . Wigan won the away League fixture 1-0 with a Maynor Figueroa goal scored deep into injury time.
Wigan's former Honduras international Wilson Palacios is in the Spurs squad, while former Spurs' Swedish international Erik Edman is currently with Wigan.
Spurs' Academy team have been drawn away to Wigan Athletic's in the FA Youth Cup Third Round and the match will take place on Wednesday December 9, kick off 7pm, at the DW Stadium.
KEVIN BOND ON WIGAN:
Kevin Bond has warned we must be wary of a Wigan Athletic side capable of beating anybody on their day when they visit the Lane on Sunday. Roberto Martinez's side have proved how good they can be, becoming the first team this season to beat table-toppers Chelsea and also winning 2-0 at Aston Villa in impressive fashion on the opening day. But they are a difficult side to predict, with disappointments coming in the form of a 1-0 home defeat against struggling Wolves back in August, and a 4-0 thumping at the hands of bottom club Portsmouth last month.
Therefore, our assistant manager believes we need only concentrate on our own game so that we are ready for whatever the Latics have to throw at us. Kevin said: "Wigan are perhaps a work in progress at the minute with a new manager, some new players and playing in a style that perhaps they weren't playing in before. "Some weeks I think they've been awesome, playing some great football and playing teams off the park to a degree. "Other times they've been beaten when perhaps they shouldn't have been, so they need that sort of consistency that everybody looks for. "But on their day they've beaten the best in the country, so we won't be taking them for granted and we know that we'll have a tough match on our hands and need to play well ourselves - that's what we'll concentrate on."
In terms of how we will look to go about our business, Kevin admits the free-flowing, dangerous attacking play we became known for in the early part of this season is what the team strives for. But at the same time, he feels the doggedness and defensive resolve that has helped get us results against the likes of Sunderland more recently is not to be frowned upon if it means three priceless points.
Kevin added: "We haven't been at our best recently but we've still managed to get victories when maybe we wouldn't have in the past, so that's something very positive. "Of course we'd like to get back to be pleasing on the eye, knocking the ball about, creating chances and looking a real threat. "Perhaps we haven't done that so much of late but we'll certainly try our best to get back to playing that way if we can."
Aaron Lennon is back for Sunday's clash against Wigan at White Hart Lane. The flying winger has missed the games against Everton, Arsenal and Sunderland after picking up an ankle injury against Stoke back on October 24. The injury also ruled him out of any involvement in England's friendly against Brazil last weekend.
Harry Redknapp confirmed that 'Azza' was ready to return after training on Friday. Central defender Sebastien Bassong is back in the frame after damaging a hamstring against Arsenal on October 31 while goalkeeper Jimmy Walker is also training again after a wrist problem.
That's perfect timing with fellow keeper Carlo Cudicini now absent with wrist and pelvic injuries as he recovers from his recent road accident. Carlo has been discharged from hospital today.
Ledley King (hamstring) is running but unlikely to feature against Wigan while the news is good on Luka Modric (fractured fibula) and Giovani (ankle). Luka's rehabilitation has progressed to running and ball work and Gio is expected to return to full training next week.
Wigan's injury list remains slim with only full-back Maynor Figueroa on the sidelines, so former Spurs player Erik Edman will continue to deputise. Boss Roberto Martinez may select the same team that drew with Fulham.
• It is 12 matches since Spurs drew at home and 12 matches since Wigan drew away.
• Wigan beat Tottenham for the first time in their history last season when they won 1-0 at home.
• Their first ever meeting between the clubs was 26 November 2005, they has since played nine times with Spurs winning four, Wigan one and there has been four draws.
• Tottenham have scored as many goals in the league as Manchester United this season.
• The five headed goals Tottenham have scored this season puts them second only to Aston Villa, who have scored six.
• Spurs have conceded 10 goals from opposition midfield players - more than any other team in the top flight this season.
• Wigan have the worst record of any side in the league against bottom-half teams, but have the third-best against top-half opposition.
• The Latics have scored the fewest goals from set-plays this season (three).
• In 22 Premier League visits to the capital, Wigan have only managed three wins (two at West Ham and one at Fulham).
Keane: 8 goals (6 league); Defoe: 7 goals (6 league)
Rodallega: 5 goals (5 league); Boyce and Scharner: 2 goals (2 league)
LAST LEAGUE MATCH LINE-UPS:
Tottenham Hotspur (W 2-0 v Sunderland, h):
Gomes; Corluka, King (Dawson 59), Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Jenas, Huddlestone, Palacios, Keane (Kranjcar 63), Crouch, Defoe.
Subs not used: Alnwick, Hutton, Bale, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko.
Wigan Athletic (D 1-1 v Fulham, h):
Kirkland; Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Edman (Sinclair 78), N'Zogbia, Thomas, Scharner, Diame, Rodallega, Scotland (Koumas 90).
Subs not used: Pollitt, Amaya, Cho, Gomez, De Ridder.
MARK LAWRENSON'S PREDICTION:
You are never quite sure what you are going to get with Wigan this season and they have turned into a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde side.
I reckon with Tottenham at home and Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane all available they will be too strong for Wigan.
Verdict: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Wigan Athletic
WILSON PALACIOS ON WIGAN:
If anyone in our squad knows what sort of game to expect against Wigan Athletic on Sunday, it's Wilson Palacios! The midfielder meets the Latics for the first time since leaving them for N17 back in January. And although much has changed at the DW Stadium since his departure, including the manager, he is still able to give a fair assessment of our next opponents. Wilson said: "This should be a good game. Wigan always play good football and they will make it difficult for us. Nonetheless, we hope to win. "I still have many friends at the club and I've had three weeks of them talking to me about the game, sending me loads of texts!"
One friend in particular, Honduras international team-mate Hendry Thomas, has almost come in as a direct replacement for Wilson at Wigan. And as two tough-tackling midfielders, the reverberations could be felt across North London when they clash at the Lane. But Wilson insists they are different, adding: "Hendry is a good player but I wouldn't say that he is similar to me. "We don't really share the same style and I believe we like to play a different sort of game but, nonetheless, he is hard to play against "Maynor Figueroa, the left-back, probably won't play on Sunday because he is injured, but he is also a good friend of mine from the national side along with Hendry."
HEURELHO GOMES ON WIGAN:
Heurelho Gomes is aiming for another three points on home soil on Sunday before our tough triple-header on the road. We've won four out of six games at the Lane so far in the Barclays Premier League and the popular goalkeeper is aiming for victory against Wigan before the trips to Villa, Manchester United and Everton. Gomes - who played such a key role in the win last time out against Sunderland on November 7 - is the main feature in Sunday's official matchday programme.
He said: "I believe that you must win your home matches if you are fighting to reach the top four, but picking up points away from home is what makes the difference between the top teams. "We have a quality group of players who have enjoyed some good results on our travels and if we can continue this, we will maintain our place towards the top end of the table. "We certainly have some difficult away games coming up, but if we can pick up another three points against Wigan it will give us the confidence we need going into those games.
"Wigan have played some good football this season and can be difficult to beat, but I'm optimistic." Gomes produced the key moment against Sunderland when he turned away Darren Bent's penalty with us 1-0 up just minutes into the second half. Tom Huddlestone rattled home a 25-yarder to secure the 2-0 victory and the Brazilian international feels that hard-earned success underlined the spirit and winning mentality in the squad. "We certainly look stronger than last season and what I like is that we are always looking to win games and work well together as a team," he explained. "There is a good spirit and a great atmosphere in the camp and when a team stays together like this, it makes it much easier to win games."
After Wigan, we travel to Villa in the league on November 28, United in the Carling Cup on December 1 and then Everton back in the league on December 6.
Sunday afternoon's match will be the 10th meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic
Here are the results of all the previous 9 games with Spurs' score shown first:
26-Nov-05FA Prem 22,611A W 2 - 1 Keane, Davids 19-Feb-06FA Prem 35,676H D 2 - 2 Mido, Defoe 25-Nov-06FA Prem 35,205H W 3 - 1 Defoe, Berbatov, Lennon 15-Apr-07FA Prem 16,506A D 3 - 3 Berbatov, Keane (2, 1pen) 11-Nov-07FA Prem 35,504H W 4 - 0 Jenas (2), Lennon, Bent 19-Apr-08FA Prem 18,673A D 1 - 1 Berbatov 21-Sep-08FA Prem 35,808H D 0 - 0 02-Jan-09F.A. Cup 3 34,040 H W 3 - 1 Pavlyuchenko (2, 1pen), Modric 11-Jan-09FA Prem 17,500A L 0 - 1
LAST TIME WE MET AT THE LANE...
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Wigan Athletic
2nd January 2009, FA Cup 3rd Round, White Hart Lane
Roman Pavlyuchenko's two goals and Luka Modric's header put Tottenham into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Pavlyuchenko enjoyed a superb match, and coolly slotted home a 52nd-minute penalty after Fraizer Campbell was fouled by Wigan keeper Richard Kingson.
Modric headed home a second after Jamie O'Hara's shot hit the post, before Henri Camara scored for Wigan late on.
But Pavlyuchenko had the final say with a fine injury-time goal, keeping his team in three cup competitions.
They have a Carling Cup semi-final against Burnley on Tuesday and a UEFA Cup date at Shakhtar Donetsk in February.
But although Premier League survival remains their number one objective, boss Harry Redknapp - an FA Cup winner with Portsmouth last May - must have been pleased with much of what he saw against a side who have won five of their last six Premier League starts.
And as heartened as he will have been with Pavlyuchenko's virtuoso performance, he would have been equally pleased with Heurelho Gomes's confident display in goal, although he was rarely tested by an off-colour Wigan attack.
Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent started in attack for Spurs, who had Gareth Bale at left-back and O'Hara playing in front of him.
Wigan had injury problems, with Lee Cattermole suspended and Emile Heskey, Chris Kirkland and Amr Zaki all out, leaving Kingson to make his debut and Camara to lead the line.
Camara had the first chance of the match, with an opening intelligently worked down the left by Kevin Kilbane and Antonio Valencia but his header flew a yard wide of the far post.
Moments later, at the opposite end, Modric spurned an equally inviting chance, when he played a delightful one-two with Pavlyuchenko before drilling his left-footed shot wide.
Spurs emerged as the more creative force, with Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley frequently finding space, and Kilbane almost scored an own-goal when attempting to clear a cross from the England international.
Bent limped off and was replaced by Campbell in the 28th minute, and the 21-year-old immediately looked at home, finding a good position as he almost converted a Bentley cross with his first touch.
Probably the closest either side came to a goal in the first half was on 44 minutes. O'Hara's weak cross rebounded fortunately to Modric, who turned and shot on instinct, forcing Kingson into a low save.
But had he released the unmarked Bentley, hovering menacingly to his right, Spurs would surely have gone into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Wigan started the match, statistically, as the team with the best form in the top flight, boasting 15 points from the last 18 available. But they remained on the back foot early in the second half, so it was no surprise that the home team opened the scoring on 52 minutes.
Campbell's pace was the key, as he surged into the area chasing a ball which ricocheted invitingly into his path. Kingson tried to challenge fairly, but caught the striker's ankle with his glove and referee Alan Wiley had little option but to point to the spot.
Pavlyuchenko buried the penalty-kick confidently low and left and minutes later almost set up a second goal for Campbell, whose header was this time brilliantly saved by Kingson.
Wigan responded with their brightest spell of the match, winning two corners in quick succession, but the omnipresent Pavlyuchenko was on hand to put in a vital block as Paul Scharner attempted to force an equaliser.
However the majority of the attacks were by the home team, and when O'Hara - whose build-up play had often been patchy - fired his shot against the post, Modric was positioned perfectly to latch onto the loose ball.
Wigan did eventually score, mainly through some weak Spurs defending, but Pavlyuchenko's super strike from outside the area in the final seconds gave the home fans the climactic finish they would have desired.
However, there was a sour note for Redknapp in the closing moments when he chose not to use substitute Hossam Ghaly, despite the Egyptian midfielder being stripped and ready to come on, because the home crowd jeered the player.
It would have been Ghaly's return to the first-team after throwing his shirt on the ground when substituted under Martin Jol in 2007.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp:
"Roman did well today, took his goals well and worked hard for the team so that was encouraging.
"We played Luka in that central midfield role today for the first time and he showed he was strong enough and certainly good enough to play there, he was terrific."
Redknapp on Ghaly:
"Everyone started booing and I heard people shouting abuse. I didn't want to change the atmosphere of the game with eight or nine minutes left.
"Obviously there is a problem with the boy playing. It's got to be very difficult for him in the future. I spoke to him afterwards about it."
Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate:
"[Pavlyuchenko] has a smile on his face and he's starting to learn the language and it's important for him he does that. He's a happy-go-lucky lad.
"You have to keep on buying as a club. We are not different to the rest of the league. We want to stay in the league. At the moment we are in relegation battle and we all know that, so if we beef up the squad then the more the better."
Wigan boss Steve Bruce:
"We made a couple of mistakes so I'm hopeful that we can have a few back for our next league game [Spurs] in 10 days' time and have a go at them then.
"Without [injured strikers Amr] Zaki and [Emile] Heskey we just didn't have enough firepower. The Christmas period has taken its toll and a club like ours can't afford to have four, five out. It's not good for us."
"Unless we have a really substantial offer [Zaki and Heskey] won't go. The last thing we want is to be dismantling the squad we are putting together.
"We are having a really good time in the league at the moment. I'll do my utmost to keep the squad I have in tact."
Gomes, Corluka, Woodgate, Dawson, Bale, Bentley, Modric (Lennon 90), Zokora, O'Hara, Bent (Campbell 27), Pavlyuchenko.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Ghaly, Gunter, Taarabt, Boateng.
Goals: Pavlyuchenko 52 pen, Modric 76, Pavlyuchenko 90.
Kingson, Boyce, Bramble, Scharner (Figueroa 73), Kilbane, Valencia, De Ridder (Cywka 74), Brown, Palacios, Kapo (Edman 84), Camara.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Taylor, Routledge, Holt.
Booked: Palacios, Kingson.
Goals: Camara 88.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).
BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Spurs' Luka Modric