Franco Di Santo of Wigan Athletic celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United at the DW Stadium.
I am going to start by first saying, that if you are a Newcastle United fan looking to read about what went wrong, then may I refer you to Coming Home Newcastle. The SB Nation blog designed to handle the matters on all things Newcastle, because I am now going into gloat mode, about how fantastic Wigan were.
So yeah we were brilliant. What made this result even better was the fact that by the end of the game, we weren’t just controlling the game we were humiliating Newcastle (sounds harsh, I know). What I mean to say, is that we just passed and passed and then passed some more, and it looked for all the world that we were the team in fourth and not fourth from bottom.
Yet it didn’t start that well. We looked to be a little hung over from the week before and started off slowly allowing Newcastle to settle into the game and take control of the midfield, something we haven’t let teams do for a long long time. It was looking daunting, but we managed to hold on for the first 15 minutes, from then on the first half was all Wigan.
The first goal came really as our first major sniff of goal. Emmerson Boyce wide out on the right hand side would provide some great width throughout the game, and his first major contribution to it, was a left footed cross which found an unmarked Victor Moses to score and make it 1-0 Wigan. Shocker, it had come from nowhere but we didn’t care and got behind the players.
Last game we took the lead against Fulham, and lost it straight away. This time however we reshaped and closed them down and made sure that they weren’t coming near our goal. A loose ball in the Newcastle box was to be their undoing. They allowed Moses to scrapper through unmarked and the winger slammed the ball home from six-yards out. This could be a big one.
You got the feeling then of just what it meant to the players and the fans. It was delirium on both accounts, the only one who was straight faced was Roberto Martinez as he talked to a beaming Gary Caldwell, you could see what the gaffer wanted. Keep your heads and let’s play football.
And boy did they play football!
Quick interact passing in the middle then suddenly looking to get wide in numbers and pull the Newcastle team apart. It was case of getting the ball wide and crossing it in, or switch the play or look for the man in the middle to create something new. But whatever it was, it was with pace, under control and towards the Newcastle goal.
I wonder why suddenly we have learnt to pass the ball, and why the strikers have learnt to play on the last man and then either turn or lay the ball off. But the simple answer is they haven’t learnt to do it, they have a man to play the ball to in Shaun Maloney. To say he was everywhere would be a gross understatement; the Scottish midfielder was in a million places at once. One minute defending the next minute setting off an attack and everything he did on the pitch is filled with a purpose. Haven’t we missed a player like that?
The midfielder would get his just rewards for his play. Jean Beasuejour with the killer pass through the heart of the Newcastle defence saw Maloney go one on one with keeper Tim Krul. Shaun simply passed the ball past the keeper and stormed off into the heart of the Wigan celebrations.
Newcastle did spark into life, and managed to break into our half a few times. Yet with nothing to test Ali Al Habsi, the best effort on goal for the North East side of the half came from a Yohan Cabaye free kick late on in the half. But the ball drifted wide of the goal, much to the disappointment of the quiet Newcastle fans.
Yet it would be Wigan who would get the next and killer goal. With four minutes of added time to be played, due to two length times down by players, Franco Di Santo would score the pick of the bunch for his 6th goal of the season. 30 yards out, the Argentinean was encouraged to shoot by the Latics faithful, and instead he curled up a beautiful chip into the top corner out of the reach of Krul. Shocked the Wigan fans more watched their team celebrate than joined in.
It was hard to grasp we were 4-0 up against what has been a fantastic Newcastle side this year, but fear was on the horizon in the shape of the second half. If Newcastle scored one early on, they could have been back in the game.
As it was, the football gods were looking down on Wigan. Whatever Newcastle tried they wouldn’t score. Firstly I put that down to great defending, our back three held their line well and numerous times, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba were both found offside. Then it was the turn of Ali Al Habsi to deny them. Two great saves against Cisse would stop the Senegalese striker scoring, one low to his left, the other high into the right hand corner.
Next to stop Newcastle was so form of look Wigan had. Twice they hit the woodwork, both time the keeper was beaten, and as left sided shot from Cisse gone in, it could have been a goal of the season contender. Having broke out wide of the left he managed to scoop the ball up and curl it round the keeper. What a player he is, but he still couldn’t beat the Wigan defence.
The other encouraging thing for Newcastle was Hatem Ben Arfa, I was glad to see the back of him for Ryan Taylor. But the midfielder had put in a great performance, finding players brilliantly, and making acres of space for himself, he just couldn’t finish.
In amongst the Newcastle flurries out our goal, and they were flurries and on chance here and there. We took a dominate stance over the game passing the ball from left to right and then back again, just killing time and making the opposition work.
That isn’t to say we didn’t have chances, had we been better finishers one of three players could have scored in one attack. Franco Di Santo getting the ball upfront played in Beasejour wide; he got to the by-line and pulled it back. Di Santo’s shot was blocked before he re picked it up again and found Moses at the back post. His shot was blocked and fell to James McCarthy who again had his shot block. Not that it mattered, but we wanted another goal!
As it was, Wigan’s best chance of the half would fall late on to Connor Sammon, who had come on for Di Santo up front. A great interchange of passing between the Irishman and Maloney, saw him spin through on goal one on one with Krul. The striker had the presence of mind to poke the ball under the keeper towards the goal. It looked to be heading in, but before Sammon could make sure, across came Fabricio Coloccini to clear the ball of the line. So close and the big Irishman would have deserved that goal for his season’s performances.
And that really is that. What a game filled with goals. Not much drama but in the end a convincing win for Wigan, which we are all extremely happy about. Two more games to go, and play like that and both of them are assured wins.