Spurs vs Wigan
It’s been an up and down week of 2-1 score lines for Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas. The win at St. Mary’s last weekend was followed by a reverse of the same score at Carrow Road in the Capital One Cup. Saturday sees the Latics come to the lane as it Spurs vs Wigan, a match that has been no stranger to goals or upsets over recent seasons.
We had the infamous 9-1 drubbing at the Lane in 2009, but a 0-1 reverse followed the next season.
Even this term, despite their average start in the Premier League, the Latics aren’t a team that Spurs can take lightly, with Andre even issuing his own ‘Wigan warning.’
“They are a team who are extremely well organised, they certainly play in a different style than the general pattern of the Premier League. Sometimes they don’t achieve the results at the beginning of the season, but when they step up a gear they can put you in a difficult situation.”
Wigan demonstrated that at the end of last season and are showing some signs of coming out of their early slump with a 2-1 victory over West Ham last week.
So, here are my 5 keys to Spurs vs Wigan.
1. Wigan love to attack the left
Only Everton try to attack more down the left flank than Wigan in the Premier League. The combination of Jean Beausejour and Shaun Maloney see a lot of the ball, as the Latics attack 43% of the time down this flank. This compares to just 27% down the right and 30% through the middle according to WhoScored.com
Wigan’s use of wingbacks means that they can overload opponents in this area, as Beausejour’s trickery and Maloney’s short, neat passing give plenty of problems.
If we check out their last two Premier League matches on Stats Zone, we can see how one-sided they are.
Against West Ham at home last week, they moved the ball often to the left side outside the box, whilst also looking to pass in-behind the opposition right back.
Away to Swansea the week before, pretty much everything was to this side.
Spurs vs Wigan will see Kyle Walker as a key player in the Tottenham defence due to the Latics reliance on moving the ball to Beausejour and Maloney. Sandro will also need to be active in this area to help provide cover and avoid 2 vs 1 situations against Walker.
2. Spurs vs Wigan right side
With Wigan attacking so heavily down the left, their players can get skewed to this side of the field. This often can see them vulnerable to leaving right wingback Emerson Boyce exposed to 1 vs 1 situations.
West Ham created a lot of their chances from their left (Wigan’s right) side. So too did Everton, as Wigan’s tendency to leave this flank open played in to the hands of Leighton Baines and the Toffees’ ploy to use the left.
Gareth Bale has been cutting inside from the left flank and working his way in to central locations this season. Saturday may well see him have a lot more joy if he plays wider, especially in transitions when we can create turnovers and break quickly on Wigan.
3. Wigan create from short passing
For all of their playing with width down the left flank, the Latics are not a crossing side. They attempt 19 balls in to the box per game, with only Sunderland and West Brom attempting fewer per match in the Premier League.
When Wigan do get the ball out to Beausejour and Maloney, they do cross on occasion, but they are more likely to play a short slid-through pass back inside.
These cutbacks are usually looking for Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone and were highlighted in James McArthur’s goal against West Ham.
4. Wigan shots in the box
Due to this tactic of creating from short passing, Wigan are a real threat to score from inside the box.
Only Everton (69%) and West Ham (67%) take more shots from inside the penalty area than Wigan (65%).
The Latics are only ranked 14th in the Premier League with 12.8 shots per match, but almost 8 of these per game are from inside the area. This makes them a real threat when Spurs are conceding 1.6 ‘big chances’ per match.
OPTA define a ‘big chance’ as:
“A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.”
All ten of Wigan’s Premier League goals have come from inside the area this season, so Spurs will need to be wary of the Latics’ close range threat.
5. Spurs vs Wigan fouls
Wigan are a team that commits a lot of fouls in a game. This season, they are ranked fourth in the Premier League with 13 fouls per match, which sees only West Ham, Stoke and Everton make more.
The reason that this is important is that Wigan have allowed 42 chances to the opposition from set pieces, only Sunderland and West Brom have permitted more.
Spurs have scored just once from a set piece this campaign, William Gallas’ goal against Chelsea from Tom Huddlestone’s free kick. His deliveries from around the box could be key to us getting on the scoresheet.
We are also yet to take a penalty in the Premier League, this match has a high probability that we will see our first.
Spurs vs Wigan outlook
This will be a tougher game than many expect, as Wigan are a better side than their Premier League position suggests.
They have had success attacking down their left-hand side, whereas we have given up the most chances to opponents down our right flank this season.
This will make the performance of Kyle Walker particularly important in this match at the defensive end. Going forward, Gareth Bale will be a key player given Wigan’s tendency to leave their right side exposed.
After Clint Dempsey missed midweek, we may just get our first Premier League penalty this weekend. Hopefully Jermain Defoe or Gareth Bale will be on hand this time.
It’s going to be a close game, but I have us shading it by a goal.
Spurs vs Wigan prediction: Spurs 2 Wigan 1