Having found ourselves internet-less during the festive period, we look back on two of the best performances of the season, and another the standard treatment from an intimidated referee at Old Trafford. Overall, a pleasing festive period during which Roberto’s team has started to show its real potential.
Wigan Athletic 1 Chelsea 1
The home side were more than a match for Chelsea, who had strung several wins together before this fixture. Daniel Sturridge scored a beautifully taken goal early in the second half against the run of play, but Latics persistence paid off when Petr Cech fumbled Rodallega’s shot straight to Jordi Gomez for the equalizer.
The entire performance, but special mention to the tackling in midfield, defensive solidity, and Jordi for being in the right place at the right time at the end of a very tiring match.
Shame it couldn’t have been three points.
Ali Al-Habsi: 7; Antolin Alcaraz: 8.5; Gary Caldwell: 8; Maynor Figueroa: 8; Ronnie Stam: 7; Dave Jones: 7; James McCarthy: 8.8; Mo Diame: 7; Jordi Gomez: 7; Victor Moses: 8; Conor Sammon: 6
Wigan Athletic 0 Liverpool 0
After surviving an early period of intense pressure, Latics were unlucky not to take the lead. Ali Al-Habsi proved the savior with a penalty stop, but both teams might have gotten on the scoresheet in an exciting match.
Jordi Gomez and Victor Moses looked absolute quality against a very good team. Sure, Liverpool played an attacking game, allowing them a bit more space on the break. But in their very different styles, they were outstanding. Maynor Figueroa put in an excellent defensive performance but also managed to get forward with some dangerous shooting. Ali Al-Habsi takes man of the match for his well earned clean sheet and penalty save.
Dave Jones is an excellent footballer, but not a left wing back. Time and time again, he was beaten for pace. Got better as the match went on, but surely Patrick Van Aanholt — so exciting when he made his first appearance against Everton back in autumn — will be considered for this position sooner than later.
Ali Al-Habsi: 9; Antonlin Alcaraz: 7.5; Gary Caldwell: 7.5; Maynor Figueroa: 8.5; Ronnie Stam: 8; Dave Jones: 6; James McCarthy: 8; Mo Diame: 8; Jordi Gomez: 8; Victor Moses: 8; Conor Sammon: 7
Manchester United 5 Wigan Athletic 0
Park Ji-Sung gave United an early lead after Patrice Evra skipped through Latics defense in the opening minutes of the game. Wigan passed the ball well, however, and went close through a couple excellent Ronnie Stam crosses before Conor Sammon was inexplicably sent off for colliding with Michael Carrick. The FA would later rescind the suspension, but that damage in this game was done. Berbatov went on to score a hat-trick, Phil Dowd would award a penalty for a foul that occurred outside the box, and the game would finish 5-0.
Ronnie Stam’s crossing when the game was still 11 vs. 11. He delivered three or four delicious crosses from the right wing that had Hugo Rodallega’s name all over them. Unfortunately, Hugo was not on the field and Conor Sammon was unable to make contact.
Unlike the previous two matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, Latics’ midfield pressure was absent, and they let United play. Once again the team was afraid of United, which is a shame, because both Chelsea and Liverpool had fielded stronger lineups against us. Conor Sammon should never have been sent off but would likely have been substituted anyway. He will always endear himself to the Latics faithful with his hard-working displays, but he appears to need an extra touch to get his shot away, and does not look comfortable attacking Stam’s crosses with his head. That said, it was the referee that killed this tie.
Ali Al-Habsi: 6; Antolin Alcaraz: 6; Gary Caldwell: 6; Maynor Figueroa: 7; Ronnie Stam: 7; Dave Jones: 6; James McCarthy: 6; Mo Diame: 6; Jordi Gomez: 6; Victor Moses: 7; Conor Sammon: 5 (Franco Di Santo: 5)