Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Can Wigan save themselves from the drop again?

Wigan have started the season off poorly. Its simple as that. Three wins from 16 games is hardly inspiring form. Not only this, the team have a winning ratio of 20% which is frankly quite frightening if you’re a Wigan fan. But this woeful start to the season and a reflection on last season’s results, spell one question, Is this the season when Wigan fall through the relegation trap door?

Possibly. But the side have shown some fight. Recently Wigan picked up two away wins at Sunderland and West Brom. Furthermore, the team managed to hold Chelsea at home last weekend. These results are utterly vital, especially the away results. It shows Wigan have the ability to take points from the teams in and around them. Not only this, very few of Wigan’s relegation rivals can boast two away wins on the bounce.

Many pundits argue Wigan’s ability to keep possession of the ball has been the difference between them and their relegation rivals. Perhaps they have a point. After all, Wigan have a impressive passing accuracy of 81% this season. Wigan have also made more accurate passes (5268 passes), than Wolves (4938 accurate passes), Aston Villa (3876), Blackburn (3738), and Bolton (4470).

So, Wigan keep the ball better than the teams in and around them. That’s all well, and good but is it really working for the side? Some may comment that it does work for them. After all, under Martinez’ Wigan have never been relegated. However, against certain sides, Wigan’s passing strategy seems like its suffocating some of the Wigan players.

For example, when Arsenal and Spurs visited Wigan at the DW, the London sides high pressure system continuously caught Wigan out. Wigan would look to slowly build from the back and progressively go forward. However, Arsenal and especially Spurs did not allow Wigan’s defence to settle on the ball. Thus causing the players to misplace passes or worse, pass the ball straight to the opposition.

These missed place passes have proved to be fatal. As Wigan have often found themselves trailing games because of defensive mishaps.

But another problem Wigan are encountering is the team are not scoring enough goals.

This season, Wigan have scored 15 goals in 16 games. It is the worst goal scoring record in the Premier League. Indeed, Wigan are craving the return to form of Hugo Rodallega. Last season the Columbian scored 9 goals. While in 8 games this season, he failed to net.
Wigan’s struggle to score goals is a significant issue. Especially if one follows the trends of the last few seasons.

Last season, Wigan had the second worst goal scoring record in the Premier League. They scored 40 goals last season. While the team who had the worst goal scoring record, Birmingham City scored 37 goals and were relegated on the final day. Furthermore, in the 2009/10 season, Hull and Portsmouth scored the least amount of goals (34 goals) and both were relegated. Finally, three seasons ago, in the 2008/09 season, Middlesbrough scored (28 goals) and found themselves going through the relegation trap door.

This is a cause for concern for Wigan. Under Martinez, the team have a history of not being able to score goals. In Martinez’ first season, Wigan managed 37 goals, the third worst in the division. While as stated before, last season, the team had the second worst goal scoring record in the division. And so far this season, the team have the worst goal scoring record. Perhaps this is symbol of the yearly decline of Wigan.

The statistics also paint a vivid picture. If you cant score, you cant win and if you cant win, you cant survive.

Wigan’s goal scoring statistics foreshadow a worrying end to their Premier League dream. Of course there is a long way to go. But if Wigan’s statistics continue to follow the same trend, there really is one inevitable route which Wigan will be taking. Relegation.

But scoring goals are not Wigan’s only problems. The club are also conceding a hell of a lot of goals too.

Wigan have the third worst defence in the league. They have conceded 30 goals already this season. Wigan are far more exploitable than some of the teams around them. After all, the teams who often survive in the Premier League are often the most efficient. They can either consistently score, or they are very strong defensively. Wigan have been neither under Martinez. If the team could score far more goals, perhaps their goals conceded statistic would not be a big issue, as their total points tally would do the talking for them.

The problem Martinez is facing is a reoccurring problem. Relegation. In Steve Bruce’s final season at Wigan, he left the club 11th. The team were 13 points away from relegation. While under Martinez, the team have always finished 16th. In his first season, 2009/10 season, they finished 6 points away from the relegation spots. While last season, The Lactics finished an alarming three points away from the relegation zone.

This is clearly a worrying trend. With every season, the club are getting closer and closer to the relegation trap door. Only three years ago, the club were safe in mid-table. But now, under Martinez, the team have not had any progressive improvement. The team have been in a freefall of decline.

Wigan Athletic are aesthetically pleasing with their tidy keep ball philosophy. But the stringent issue is the team cant do anything productive with it. The club have won their last two away games, but that does not hide away the fact the team have severe underlying inadequacies such as not being able to finish or concede which have been crippling the club for years.

This may well be Wigan’s final dance in the Premier League.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure what has happened to Wigan's defence this year. Sure it has never been great, but its fallen apart just like Boltons this season


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