A woeful performance from shapeless Wigan. They handed Leicester a gift after 15 minutes when big central defender Liam Moore headed in a corner with ease, nobody having marked him. The goal gave the home team the impetus and they never looked back. The result was sealed with a soft penalty in the last 10 minutes.
Owen Coyle had used the same starting lineup that he used in the previous match against Nottingham Forest, except that James Perch came in for the departed James McCarthy. It was like replacing a thorough-bred with a pit pony.
Wigan struggled to get to grips with the game in the first half. Their packed midfield looked sluggish and ceded control to Leicester . When Latics tried to attack they had no width, except for when Jean Beausejour moved up from his full back position. There was nothing happening on the right hand side. There was a distinct lack of purpose in their play.
The overworked central defenders – Thomas Rogne and Leon Barnett – struggled to cope with the movement of Leicester strikers Jamie Vardy and David Nugent. Marc-Antoine Fortune was a truly lone centre forward, although when for once he got away he went down in the penalty box following a push, only for the referee to wave play on.
Wigan’s best chance came just before half time from a fine effort from Barnett, whose rocket shot could have gone anywhere, but went to keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
The second half started in the same pattern and one was expecting Coyle to make wholesale substitutions at any minute. Jordi Gomez and Roger Espinoza were replaced by Callum McManaman and debutant Nick Powell after 55 minutes, but it made no noticeable difference. It was followed by another change after 61 minutes with James McClean coming on for Shaun Maloney.
Despite now having two wide players there continued to be no pattern to Wigan’s play. It was no surprise when Leicester added a well-deserved second goal, albeit through a generous refereeing decision. Latics fans could argue that Vardy ‘s fall after colliding with Beausejour was less of a penalty than in the first half when Fortune hit the ground after being pushed. Scott Carson almost saved Nugent’s penalty, but the power of the shot beat him.
However, the referee cannot be blamed for Wigan’s defeat. Leicester are a well organized team with a solid defence. They more than merited their victory.
Once again Scott Carson looked reliable in goal and the centre backs had to work hard due to the lack of shielding from midfield. Thomas Rogne and Leon Barnett need to continue to play together and develop that mutual understanding that centre back pairs need. One hopes that Coyle will resist the opportunity to tamper once again.
Coyle was quoted as saying that if he could have made seven substitutions he would have done so. He also criticised refereeing decisons. However, the manager needs to take more responsibility for a poor team performance.
Roberto Martinez’s tactical approach at Wigan could be rigid and Latics were criticized for passing the ball across the field rather than being direct. However, Martinez managed to instill a system in which each player knew his role.
That is not the case with Coyle’s teams. There has been no consistent tactical pattern up to this point and changes have been reactive, rather than proactive. The end result is the whole adding up to less than the sum of its parts. Players don’t seem to be able to read each others’ games. Part of this is down to having so many new faces, but much is also due to the lack of structure in the tactical approach.
With a host of quality midfield players available Coyle chose to put the limited James Perch in front of the back four. With two specialist left backs in the squad he chose to play Beausejour – a wing back maybe – but never a full back, in that position.
Wigan tried to keep the ball on the ground in the first half but every time the goalkeeper got the ball his long kicks went straight back into opposition hands. It was a revelation around halfway through the second half when Carson threw a great pass to the half way line to start a Wigan move. This is not to criticize Carson himself, who is probably playing under orders. The big goalkeeper has been Latics best player so far this season.
One mistake that Martinez habitually made was to play Jordi Gomez in a forward role. Coyle is falling in to the same trap. Supposedly Gomez was playing some way forward on the right. The Spaniard never has been and never will be a wide player. He looked lost most of the time and it was no surprise when he was substituted. Gomez’s natural role is as a creator in the centre of midfield, but last season he really improved in the midfield holding role. A forward he is not.
Scott Carson: 7 – alert and solid. Unlucky not to save the penalty.
Emmerson Boyce: 5 – poor. His lack of pace was exposed by winger Lloyd Dyer.
Thomas Rogne: 6 – a disciplined performance; he never gave up trying despite being under constant pressure.
Leon Barnett: 6 – with a little more poise and composure he could be a top central defender. Lucky not to concede an own goal in the second half when he headed back to Carson who was not where he thought.
Jean Beausejour: 5 – covered acres of ground in the first half trying to get Latics’ attack going. Made some errors but played with commitment. Unlucky to have another dubious penalty against him.
James Perch: 4 – poor.
Ben Watson: 5 – unable to stamp his class on the game.
Roger Espinoza: 5 – not as involved as usual. Probably jaded from World Cup qualifying matches with Honduras.
Shaun Maloney: 5 – ineffective. Maybe also jaded from matches for his country.
Jordi Gomez: 4 – lost.
Marc-Antoine Fortune: 6 – sacrificed to the robust Leicester central defenders who constantly surrounded him. Worked hard without support.
Callum McManaman: – unable to prise open a tight Leicester defence.
Nick Powell: – not able to make much impact.
James McClean: – ineffective.