Seldom will one see a game as sterile as this, with so few chances created. It was a damp squib. A Latics team looking low on confidence had 58% of the possession, but never committed enough men forward to pose problems for the visitors’ packed defence.
Uwe Rosler surprised us by leaving Martyn Waghorn on the bench, playing Marc-Antoine Fortune up front with Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney. Rosler preferred Rob Kiernan to Leon Barnett and he was joined by Emmerson Boyce and Gary Caldwell in a central backline of three. James Perch and Jean Beausejour were the wing backs, with James McArthur and Jordi Gomez in central midfield. Scott Carson continued in goal. Nick Powell did not make the squad.
Harry Redknapp put out a lineup with lots of creative players, but from the onset it was clear that his tactic would be to pack his defence and frustrate Latics. It was a measure of strength of the QPR defence that Wigan’s first decent shot on goal came after 42 minutes when Gomez pulled down a long pass from Caldwell and forced a good save from Rob Green. Carson had been virtually unemployed at the other end. It had been a scrappy, physical affair with McArthur, McManaman and Caldwell joining Richard Dunne in receiving a yellow card.
QPR came out more positively early in the second half with Junior Hoilett looking lively and having a shot go wide. Carson did well to punch away a cross from Hill, and then made a good save from a low shot from Traore.
Latics got back on top of possession and had the chance of the match when Kiernan found Fortune eight yards from goal, but the French Guinean spooned it wide. One was expecting Rosler to make his habitual substitutions around the 60 minute mark, but they were not forthcoming. The game continued to be scrappy, with Latics mainly relying on long balls which were gobbled up by the visiting defence.
The substitutes came after 76 minutes as Martyn Waghorn and Nicky Maynard replaced McManaman and Fortune, but it had little effect. The game reached its predictable conclusion in a dull goalless draw.
QPR came in to the match in better form than a Latics team that had lost 4 out of their last 6 games. It showed.
Wigan looked solid defensively.
Looking on the bright side Latics are still in with a chance in the return match on Monday.
It was more like watching a game of chess rather than a football match. QPR stymied Latics, who had little to offer in the final third of the field. Apart from that first half shot from Gomez, Wigan’s flair players could not provide that telling pass or shot that would make the difference.
What was missing from Latics was tempo. Roger Espinoza is a player who can not only put energy into a game, but has a catalytic effect on his team mates. However, he sat on the bench the whole match. James McClean could also have come on and injected some life into Wigan’s play. He too was shunned.
We did not see Latics playing the Rosler way with high pressing and fast counterattacks. They were insipid and cautious, the wing backs holding back and not enough players getting in the box.
Fortune started the match after not having scored in his last 17 games. It was no surprise when he missed Latics’ best opportunity in the second half. However, that was the only opportunity he had, given the woeful service into the box. Rosler could be criticized for starting Fortune rather than Maynard who had scored two goals in the previous game. However, had Maynard started he would have been on the receiving end of too many long balls, which is not his forte. Fortune once again plugged away, given poor service.
Latics have played QPR three times this season and still not scored a goal.
However, all is not lost. An early goal for Wigan on Monday would provide a big boost for their flagged self-confidence and could see them go through. Stranger things have happened.
Scott Carson: 6.5 – did all that was required of him.
James Perch: 6 – solid.
Emmerson Boyce: 6 – solid.
Gary Caldwell: 6.5 – solid in defence and put some decent long balls forward.
Rob Kiernan: 6 – looked comfortable in defence. Injured by Clint Hill’s elbow in the first half, unseen by the officials.
Jean Beausejour: 6 – solid in defence, seemed afraid to go too far forward.
James McArthur: 6 – worked hard to maintain possession.
Jordi Gomez: 6 – worked hard but could not put his stamp on the game.
Callum McManaman: 6 – could not find a way through a massed defence.
Marc-Antoine Fortune: 5.5 – spurned his only opportunity of the game.
Shaun Maloney: 6 – not at his best yet after a long time out injured.
Martyn Waghorn, Nicky Maynard: – came on after 76 minutes, but could not make the difference.