Each week, after the dust has settled, we’ll be taking a look back on the latest Wigan Athletic result. This week, we examine the lessons from the 2-0 home loss to Chelsea. If you missed our match report, please check it out here.
1. Momentum: Despite the wooden start, Latics played in very much the same flowing style and tactical shape as they ended last season. Even the most optimistic of us had felt there was a possibility the team would lose their momentum, or that Roberto might revert to his previously preferred 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 formation. Rustiness and fitness issues aside, the XI on the pitch looked no weaker than last season — while the seven on the bench looked stronger.
2. Maynor Figueroa, the wingback: While the signing of Ivan Ramis provides necessary cover and competition for the established back three, this match confirms it does the same at left wingback. Jean Beausejour remains untouchable when fit, a specialist in his position whose form swung Latics fortunes last season. But Maynor proved on Sunday that he is an excellent option, far more suited that the willing, but ill-suited Dave Jones, who filled the position before Beausejour’s arrival in January. His through ball for Franco Di Santo in the first half was particularly impressive — great vision.
3. Depth: Players like Ryo Miyaichi, Ronnie Stam and Callum McManaman weren’t even on the bench. Nouha Dicko was allowed to leave for a season-long loan at Blackpool. How far we’ve come in the last few years.
4. Statistics: While we concede that Chelsea were 2-0 up for almost 90% of the match, Wigan were as good or better than them for most of the game. Latics enjoyed 7 corners to Chelsea’s 1, 15 goal attempts to Chelsea’s 6, and 52% possession of the ball.
1. Baptism of fire for Ivan: Having been turned a little too easily by Eden Hazard in midfield in the build-up to the first goal, the defender then lunged at the French attacker in the box, giving away a penalty minutes later. Rough start, but he improved as the match went on.
2. Injuries: Both Shaun Maloney and James McArthur had to be withdrawn with niggles. It has since been reported that they should be fit to play Southampton this weekend, but the McArthur back issue in particular has the potential to continue flaring up if he doesn’t get adequate rest and treatment.
3. Opportunity lost: With a better start, Latics might have gotten something out of this game. Chelsea were good on the break, but wouldn’t have been playing on the break quite as much if they hadn’t taken that early lead.
Ali Al-Habsi: 6 — Didn’t have much to do other than retrieve the ball from the back of his net.
Antolin Alcaraz: 6 — A little rusty in the first half but got better as the game went on, and even contributed the attacking effort in the second.
Gary Caldwell: 7 — Good display from the captain, steady in defense and strong in distribution.
Ivan Ramis: 5 — The early mistakes ultimately cost Latics the points, but there was much to like about his reaction to them. Should prove a good addition once settled.
Maynor Figueroa: 7 — Looked instantly comfortable in the left-wingback role.
Emmerson Boyce: 7 — Strong and steady when defending, delivered some quality crosses in the first half.
James McArthur: 6 — Did okay despite a bit of rust, before being withdrawn due to a recurrence of his back injury.
James McCarthy: 7.5 — Very strong in midfield, rarely gave the ball away, great range of passing. We only wish he would shoot more often.
Shaun Maloney: 7.5 — Excellent in the first half, creative, energetic and positive.
Victor Moses: 7 — Gave the Chelsea fullbacks a torrid time when he ran at them. A few poor crosses but a few excellent ones as well, plus a snapshot from an impossible angle that troubled Peter Cech in the first half. Hope he stays.
Franco Di Santo: 6 — Got into some good positions but headed narrowly over early on and took a heavy touch after being sent through by Figueroa late in the first half.
Jordi Gomez: 6.5 — Latics did lose some of their positivity when Maloney went off, but Jordi was fairly involved, drew fouls for the team, and might have scored on several occasions.
Arouna Koné: 7 — His first few touches were nervy, but he kept the ball and his movement was hugely promising. He got on the end of two or three crosses and almost scored from each of them.
Ben Watson: 6 — A little rusty as many of his teammates, didn’t contribute an immense amount but didn’t let anyone down either.