Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday February 19 2010
Wigan Athletic face Tottenham Hotspur at the DW Stadium in Sky Sports big match on Sunday with a 4:15pm kick-off scheduled, in the build up to the match Vital Latics have done the now customary chat, brew and Hobnobs over at Vital Towers with the opposition, as usual worbo was there, this week meeting and greeting Vital Spurs editor OxfordSpur, let`s see how it all went:
worbo - welcome OxfordSpur, the last time we met was back in November and I was quietly optimistic as we prepared to take you on at White Hart Lane, unfortunately my optimism wasn't well founded and we all know what happened, but what did happen?
OxfordSpur - Sometimes freak results just happen. I would say that it was a day when everything just clicked for Spurs whilst you seemed to capitulate once we took control, especially in the defensive side of your play. I would like to think that in the second half we would have looked fantastic against any side. To be honest it seems that since that day we may have taken our eye off of the ball a little and we have all too often failed to kill of games, which has been a huge concern and perhaps the biggest reason why we are now out of the top four, not just about losing games we should have been expected to win.
worbo - Well that's out of the way then, I thought I'd bring it up early so we don't have any awkward silences later on, but I have got to tell you I have developed a morbid fear of the number 9, any way Sunday, I see that Aaron Lennon has made a recovery from his groin injury and that there is talk of him coming into the side to face us, do you think he will? Our pitch has been cutting up really badly of late and if there is any doubt about Lennon's fitness I would advise against him playing, please don't play him.
OxfordSpur - I think the fact that despite Jermain Defoe scoring five that day, Lennon getting the man of the match vote, gives some indication to how good he was on the day and was without question our outstanding player prior to his injury at the end of December. His loss to the team and its attacking threat has been massive.
At the moment it seems that he is still a doubt and judging by your pitch, there has to be a question over whether he should be rested for a few more days unless he is deemed 100% we must not gamble. David Bentley has been playing very well in the last few games and perhaps offers a different threat, especially if the game becomes one where the midfield is by-passed as I think it might. Perhaps the biggest danger to you, and based on current form will be Gareth Bale who has been absolutely superb since coming back into the side, defensively he has been good, but offensively he has been unplayable. I can see real problems for you or anyone else if both Lennon and Bale are both available; mind you I don`t think there will be ten goals in this game...
worbo - I thought that Spurs would have pushed on this year and really made a play for that fourth spot, but even though you are still very much in touch I feel that you have missed some great opportunities especially the recent Hull and Wolves games, it looks very tight at the moment, can Spurs finish ahead of Liverpool, Man City and Aston Villa to claim a Champions League place or will it be too much of an ask this season?
OxfordSpur - At the start of the season I predicted we would finish sixth and to be honest that is where I see us ending the season, below Liverpool and City and above Villa. I think that the vast majority of Spurs fans will be very disappointed not to have taken the chance and be comfortable in fourth at this time and we have not only lost silly games, but also failed to capitalise on games we have dominated as I mentioned earlier. I think the race is still tight and there will be slip ups from all of the teams in the fight. Liverpool are still not playing well, City are beginning to look nervous and Villa maybe feeling the effects of having a small squad and still being in two cups, I also hear that Martin O`Neil has never won a Premiership game in March so fingers crossed.
worbo - The transfer window shut for the final time this season, we had a dabble with the main incomers being a back up keeper from Sporting Lisbon Vladimir Stojković, a solid centre back from Celtic Gary Caldwell, he's good, Victor Moses from Crystal Palace and a new forward, the Bolivia international Marcelo Moreno from Shakhtar Donetsk, hopefully they can all make a difference as we desperately need the points, not too keen on the keeper, Caldwell looks really solid and a great organiser, something we've needed, not seen enough of the other two yet to make any comment.
Have Spurs signed anyone to set the pulses racing in this last window?
OxfordSpur - Blood pressure up maybe, but neither Eidur Gudjohnsen or Younes Kaboul have really got the fans excited or perhaps add a great deal to the starting eleven, but at the same time they are reasonable signings who have to be given time and the chance to make an impact. Kaboul was of course with us prior to joining Pompey where he really developed, but some can`t forget that he struggled, particularly with his concentration with us. To be fair he was new to the league and very raw, but playing regular football seems to have done him the world of good, but his signing is more about the injuries to King and Woodgate, and with Dawson and Bassong we are strong, but needed back up and quality competition. Gudjohnsen is or rather was an outstanding and clever footballer and I think he could add something to our game, but like with your new strikers we have to wait and see.
worbo - I see you've allowed Robbie Keane to go to Celtic on loan, I always liked Keane, he has a real bit of class about him so to me looking from the outside it's a strange decision, how do the Spurs fans feel to him going?
OxfordSpur - The majority are pleased to see the back of him and to be fair on form, it was hard to argue against that feeling. I agree that he has great quality and the decision to loan him out and loan in Gudjohnsen is a brave move by Harry and one where we have yet to understand why, especially as Eidur isn`t yet fully match fit.
Personally I think Robbie was a player we wanted out, due to a mix of poor form and perhaps his not fitting into the future footballing plans. As good as he was rated in the dressing room, perhaps he was too pro the players and not enough towards the coaching staff. I imagine we will have to wait for either Robbie`s or Harry autobiography to know the real truth. As a player I also wonder if he was too similar to the likes of Luka Modric, who although plays deeper, there was never any real chemistry between them and similarly Robbie never truly looked comfortable with any of the other strikers, meaning he all too often played far too deep into the areas which restricted the midfield.
worbo - Wilson Palacios is coming back home on Sunday and I'm sure he'll get a rousing reception from the Latics fans he is still well liked here, a great player and a great character, have the Spurs supporters taken to him and do you feel he was worth the transfer fee?
OxfordSpur - Yes and Yes, although since the loss of his brother there hasn`t been quite the consistency or outstanding performance of last season, but I also fear he is being slightly restricted to a more defensive rather than a box to box role which perhaps suits him better. Whether this is a formation change from Harry or merely a slight dip in form, motivation of a different partner in Tom Huddlestone, I don`t really have the answer, but to be fair he always gives a truly whole hearted performance and is loved and respected for the role he plays.
worbo - The league is tighter than ever this year both at the top and the bottom, it is almost too close to call but I think Pompey are as good as down either through administration or liquidation or just as a consequence of their troubles, joining them in relegation I can see Burnley and Hull, though having watched Bolton on Wednesday they are a poor side and could end up swapping with Hull but I'll stick with Phil Brown's men.
As for the top four Chelsea look really strong and I think they will finish Champions with United running them a close second, Arsenal just have too much and will be 3rd of the rest I think Villa will be the surprise package and snatch the 4th spot on the last day, so for me its Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal and Aston Villa, at the top with Hull, Burnley, Pompey going down, how do you see the top 4 bottom 3 ending up?
OxfordSpur - I would tend to agree with you over Hull and Burnley, if we assume that Pompey are doomed. I quite like Burnley, but the loss of Owen Coyle could be the key reason why they will go down, but I still maintain they were one of the favourites despite their good home form.
Watching Bolton last weekend, I was quite impressed and feel that Coyle might just be turning things around, but he still has a huge task, but they seem to be building momentum. Purely in footballing term I want the sides who play attractive football, including West Ham and yourselves to stay up, whilst I would prefer to see clubs like Wolves get another season to build on what they have started, but at the same time wouldn`t lose any sleep if they went down (especially after taking 6 pts from us)
At the top I want United to win and feel it could be down to the game at Old Trafford who wins, but it could be a final weekend climax. Arsenal have just too many weaknesses, but do have the easier run in, but I will stick with my start of the season prediction of Chelsea, but if they don`t win it, they will only have themselves and perhaps you guys to blame for losing out. As for fourth, I still get the feeling that Liverpool will nick it over Man City, but both could yet do their best to mess it up.
worbo - Well let`s get down to the nitty gritty and get some predicting done, I can see a tough encounter, hopefully a bit of open football ending in an exciting 1-1 draw, so that's what I'm going for 1-1. How do you see it and don't say 9-1?
OxfordSpur - I would settle for eight to be honest.... I worry that it will be a scrappy game to be honest and maybe I am being cynical, but I don`t see the open game that you do, but a tight battle with you determined to show you are no soft touch and us getting restless and hoofing the ball to Peter Crouch, particularly if there is no Lennon.
The fact that both teams really need the three points may mean that both look to attack. Again though I hate to agree with you a 1-1 draw seems a reasonable prediction, but would either side be happy with that??
worbo - a point is a point and better than none, any way great to chat and good luck for the rest of the season
There is an interview with me over on Vital Spurs
You can listen to the Latics Speyk podcasts now by clicking on the player here:
Date:Friday February 19 2010
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