Been a while since these two games, yet it is time for me to sit down with a warm cuppa (it is freezing!), and look back on two encounters which can see the stature of our side and great qualities which Roberto Martinez and his coaching staff build into our players.
The last two games have seen our side, limp and hobble its way through 180 minutes of football, with many of our first team players missing. That is not set to change and it is likely to be another two weeks before anyone is ready to fully return to this Wigan side. Shaun Maloney is on the cusp of a return, yet who deserves to leave the current starting line up? The answer is none.
The performances that our lads have put in have been fantastic; from being down to 10 men and battling against a Newcastle side (a game which we controlled for large parts); to battling to take the lead and come back from behind to draw against QPR. One thing the last few games have shown is our fantastic depth to our current squad.
One great example of this is Adrian Lopez. The defender was someone we all worried about in the past, yet now he has resurged to be a solid part of our make shift back three (seeing David Jones play against QPR, who also had a great game). Although the defender was at fault for their second goal, you can’t fault the rest of his performance where he was strong on and off the ball and read the game beautifully to intercept and tackle players.
So it’s all good news; it’s just getting that consistency. We have struggled this year because of our injury. In the past four games the same starting line-up hasn’t been given. Last season Martinez was naming, as close as he could to, the same squad for our amazing run.
Usually you find the same 11 start to build a sort of ‘telepathy’ together knowing who is going to be where and when to pass the ball or hold onto it. So far the rest of our squad have shown they can just as easily slot in and work just as well with the rest of the squad when they need to. The work ethic and the understanding in the squad is fantastic, and in the long run can only be a positive thing.
So all round the feeling in Wigan has to be good doesn’t it? Well we are 18th. But in the circumstances you can understand the league position. The next step for Latics is holding out over a tough winter period and keeping pace with the teams around us. This weekend’s game against Norwich will be an important one before a tough home tie against Arsenal; followed up by games against Everton and Aston Villa, finishing with Manchester United in the New Year.
Plenty to build with and much to do in the coming month with, five games in the space of less than three weeks, everyone has to be on their best, and anyone coming back has to be willing to fight for their place back in the team.