The Sheikh's Thoughts - Latics 0-2 Chelsea
Vital Wigan's very own Sheikh_Mahand takes a look at the opening game of the season, which unfortunately saw the Latics come unstuck with a 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea, he provides us with his thoughts on the game and the performances of individual players, over to you Sheikh:
I see everyone is being as level headed as ever. Nice to see that we don't have the usual nonsense proclaiming we're already going down after the first game. I thought Wigan played rather well after the bizarre opening seven minutes, controlled the rest of the first half with ease, and were probably the dominant force in the second half as well. How much of this was Wigan outplaying Chelsea and how much was Chelsea just sitting on a two goal lead is up for debate. Either way, there's not much else Wigan could have done.
As for individual players, Ivan Ramis had possibly the worst first 45 minutes I've seen from a debutant in the first half, he looked wooden, flatfooted and out of his depth. Then after half time, it was almost as if the first half was an elaborate joke - he was very solid, used the ball better than his defensive partners and generally looked very composed. I'm sure once he gets used to playing in a back three (something that I don't think he's every done before, certainly not for long spells at Mallorca) he'll slot in nicely.
The other new signing, Koné, looked sharp and quick when he came on, plenty of goal threat about him for sure. His first touch was rather over excitable, but we could probably put that down to debut nerves/will to impress. He'll get goals this season, although how far past double figures could be interesting.
Both Jameses put a huge amount of work in and toiled away as best they could, but I think a lack of fitness from McArthur told unfortunately. Also, they were simply outclassed by one of the most expensively assembled midfields I've ever seen. The movement was a bit too much for them to cope with, but there's no shame in the performances they gave.
Victor Moses, well here's an interesting one. I simply couldn't believe how much abuse he was getting from people sat around me in ES2 and ES1. Absolutely ridiculous. There were no signs of sulking or pulling out of challenges at all, I thought he played well under the circumstances. He faded quite badly once he switched to the left hand side, but he was dangerous enough on both wings. And it says it all that Chelsea were so worried about him that they played two left backs to counter him, both of them spending most of the game double marking him. Sometimes you are just stifled by the opposition. He's still the only player in the squad who can consistently create something out of nothing, and I would be a touch worried if he does leave - those who think the players we have can compensate are lying to themselves, there's a significant gap in quality. That said, if he does go we will bring in a replacement. But I'm convinced he's now staying, in spite of the nonsensical chants from some 'fans'.
As for the rest, di Santo battled away gamely but didn't really get into the game enough in areas that would hurt Chelsea, although his miss just before half time could have been a turning point. Caldwell was as awesome as ever, Alcaraz put in the best performance I can remember from him and both Figueroa and Boyce were solid if unspectacular. I do think Beausejour and a new right sided clone are needed to make that system really work though. Maloney didn't get enough space or time to really trouble Chelsea and his set plays were dreadful, I don't think a single corner managed to miss either Cech or Luiz. Let's hope his injury isn't too bad, as we could do with him fit.
Ben Watson looked much improved when he came on, a far more accomplished and mobile player than we've seen for a while. He could be a useful backup this season. And even Jordi Gomez was impressive when he came on. I really like Gomez, and I hate the abuse he gets from a vocal minority of Wigan fans. He linked extremely well with Koné and created several chances while he was on the pitch. The only problem being that he missed two excellent chances, in particular the free header in the box. People can moan at him all they like for 'slowing the game down', but most of the time he hasn't got any options to pass to - hence why he's got to hesitate and 'slows the game down'. But hey, that's a bit too advances for some people, to concentrate on more than one player, so let's swear at Jordi.
Anyway, reasons to be cheerful and I see no reason why pre-season optimism can't be taken into the rest of the season. Southampton had their traditional performance from a newly promoted side at Citeh today, they won't keep that up all year. No reason why we can't beat them at their place. And anyway, look on the bright side - I'm sure QPR and Norwich fans would happily swap places with us right now.
And isn't it so life-affirming to see that charming young fellow England's Brave John Terry get absolute dog's abuse. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke.
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