I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s just me but this season seems to have been very stop start. The international breaks, the lack of FA Cup involvement and the winter snow have all contributed to the impression that despite the fact that weâ€™re well towards the business end of the campaign, weâ€™re yet to get into a familiar flow, for want of a better word.
Such has been the anticipation of our Champions League games, especially the â€˜glamour tiesâ€™, that these too have added to staccato atmosphere rather than helped. Games like the one we have on Saturday at Wigan seem to take place in the middle of a hiatus, as though they are distractions from the main event. The Premier League is structured around the CL rather than vice versa.
In the ten league games weâ€™ve played that have preceded Champions League fixtures we have recorded four wins, four draws and two losses so not the best of records. For comparison in the ten games that have immediately followed the European games we have won four times, drawn three and lost three, so only marginally worse when weâ€™re in the traditionally vulnerable state of having just played against Europeâ€™s â€˜finestâ€™.
One of the post-Europe losses occurred in August when Wigan delivered our only home defeat of the season thus far. Hugo Rodallegaâ€™s goal brought us back to earth the weekend after weâ€™d qualified for the CL tournament proper by sorting out the Young Boys 4-0. That day we were lack lustre but Wigan defended well and even though Cudicini shouldâ€™ve done better with what turned out to be the winning goal, the visitors could already have gone ahead as they regularly took us apart on the break. Kaboul nearly equalised with a header right at the death but ultimately Wigan deservedly took the three points.
The international break has as usual brought its share of injury scares. Bale, Lennon and Gallas all seem to have picked up knocks and tweaks so will all be rested probably despite the importance of getting three points from this game. We have the opportunity to put pressure on Man City before they play Sunderland on Sunday.
Wigan are desperate for points. Itâ€™s tight at the bottom but they are still bottom. Last season the great run that took us to fourth began at the DW when Defoe and Pav combined to give us a 3-0 win. Itâ€™s a familiar refrain but we desperately need these two to start firing again if weâ€™re going to stand a chance of matching that success.
We played very well against West Ham and were unfortunate not to win. More of the same is needed, this time though with a better standard of sharpshooting to round off the good work elsewhere on the pitch.
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