Explaining to my wife why Spurs can't beat Wigan

Posted by Dan Fitch

After watching the game at home Saturday I went out for dinner with my wife and child. My wife doesn't know anything about football, nor does she care to, but occasionally she'll ask me the odd question about it.

Her interest, I guess, had been piqued by the fact that I was shouting and hollering like some kind of lunatic for the last 10 minutes of the game.

"So who did you play today?"

"Wigan. We drew."

My wife took this in. As I've said, she doesn't know anything about football, but she does know that she's never heard anyone mentioning Wigan in conjunction with winning the Champions League. She also knows that it's a pretty small town.

"You couldn't beat Wigan? Why?"

"Because we're Spurs. It's what we do."

"But didn't you say that you'd beaten the Premier League champions last week ...?"

I didn't bother to answer the question. It would have been pretty difficult to explain to her what went wrong to draw 2-2 against Wigan, but you guys will understand, so I'll share my take on things.

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A big problem was the formation and the team picked to employ it. The switch to 4-3-3 worked brilliantly against Manchester City, but less well here.

Straight away I and many other Spurs fans foresaw problems when we spotted Kyle Naughton at left back.

I can understand if Andre Villas-Boas doesn't rate Benoit Assou-Ekotto and replaces him at the end of the season. He's a player who divides opinion, with plenty of Tottenham supporters who think that he's terrible. However, I'm pretty sure that every fan rates him higher than Naughton being played out of position.

It's the same old story every time that Naughton gets picked there. Spurs lack width as a result of him having to cut inside and when playing a narrow 4-3-3 with the right-footed Clint Dempsey on the left of the attack, it is vital that the full backs get forward and provide an option on the flanks.

In midfield, Tom Huddlestone started in the deep role that he has recently occupied as a substitute and once again excelled. The problem was that Scott Parker was pushed up as a result and just didn't look effective.

In different circumstances Parker would have been substituted early, but as Moussa Dembele went off in the first half with an injury, Parker stayed on the pitch until relatively late in the game. If AVB decides to persist with this formation and Huddlestone for the remaining fixtures, then Parker really should be replaced by either Lewis Holtby or Tom Carroll.

There were also problems with the front three. With Gareth Bale right and Dempsey left, the trio lacked width. With a front three I like to see one player who will genuinely attack on the outside of his flank, with the other wide player cutting in. Today everyone was cutting inside and as a result, space was at a premium.

Last week Jermain Defoe made a great impact coming off the bench, but Saturday's game demonstrated his limitations when starting. He's livelier and a better finisher than Emmanuel Adebayor, but can't hold the ball up.

Perhaps it should be Bale who starts centrally, with Aaron Lennon and Dempsey on either side of him. Having played through the middle so much of late, Bale looked on the fringes of things. The fact is that he can play across any of the front three positions and should be utilized wherever he can do most damage on a game-to-game basis.

Despite not imposing himself on the game, Bale did manage to score with a kung fu kick. That's kind of how things are going for him at the moment.

The lead didn't last long, as some shocking defending from a corner resulted in an equalizer. Spurs were the better team for the rest of the half, but struggled to create real chances.

Callum McManaman scored a great goal to give Wigan the lead in the second half and it really seemed to shock Tottenham. You'd expect an immediate response, but Spurs struggled to get a grip on the game and Wigan could have easily extended their lead.

With Lennon eventually replacing the disappointing Parker and Assou-Ekotto coming on to supply width, Villas-Boas' side started to make inroads late on. Emmerson Boyce put the ball into his own net and Spurs could have even won it in the final seconds, as a Bale free kick caused mayhem in the Wigan box.

Of course you can't help but be disappointed on a day when Tottenham could have gone third, but there's no need to panic. I'd have taken a draw against Manchester City, so in that sense, four points from the two games is not a bad return.

Don't forget that Wigan are always difficult to beat at this time of the season. It's the stage where teams at the bottom are as dangerous as those at the top. Luckily Spurs' forthcoming fixtures include teams such as Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland who are now safe.

Which leaves Chelsea. More and more that is looking like it will be the decider. I can't say I'm looking forward to that game. Even my wife knows that Chelsea are a good team, which is never a good sign.

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