Lackluster Latics give it away

Posted by Tony Brown

Shaun Maloney fires home his stunning goalGettyImagesShaun Maloney fires home his stunning goal

In stoppage time Arouna Kone looked odds-on to net an equaliser, after being put through by a great flick from Franco Di Santo. It might have helped Wigan get a result they would have scarcely deserved following a lackluster performance. In the event Kone was blocked by great tackle from Sebastian Bassong, who together with his central defensive partner, Michael Turner, had blunted so many Wigan attacks.

Norwich are a pretty ordinary team, but they have been in a good run of form and have that kind of self confidence and belief that Wigan lack. Once again the Wigan defence gifted the opposition their goals. An error by Emmerson Boyce enabled the excellent Wes Hoolahan to put through the predominantly right-footed left-winger, Anthony Pilkington. Ali Al Habsi will be kicking himself for not stopping Pilkington's left-footed shot at his near post but Norwich had been easily the better team in the first half.

Wigan lost James McCarthy to an ankle injury after a nasty tackle from midfield enforcer Bradley Johnson, with David Jones replacing him at half-time. A second change made during the interval was to take off the ineffective Jordi Gomez and replace him with Shaun Maloney. The diminutive Scot was to make a difference with a rasping shot in the 61st minute to bring Wigan level. For a little while the roles were reversed and Wigan looked the better team. However, poor defending allowed Norwich back in the game. Wes Hoolahan is 5ft 5inches tall, but nevertheless managed to outjump Maynor Figueroa and the Wigan defence to put the ball in the net, after Pilkington had too easily found his way past Boyce to put over a right-footed cross.

The Good

A cracking goal from Shaun Maloney. Kone adapted well to the Di Santo role, using his dribbling abilities to run at the opposing defence. It was good to see Mauro Boselli given a chance after being left out in the cold so long, although he looked rusty and was taken off after 72 minutes.

The Bad

The lack of defensive cohesion is costing Wigan dearly. It would be unfair to point the finger at individuals who have operated in the back three this season. However, it has been that very problem that has led to soft goals being gifted to opponents. The back three that was the fulcrum for Wigan's revival last season – Alcaraz, Caldwell and Figueroa - has not played together this season.

Wigan's injury woes continue with McCarthy (ankle ligament) and Adrian Lopez (hamstring) set to miss forthcoming matches.

Player Ratings

Ali Al Habsi: 7 – made some outstanding saves, but should have done better with opening goal and later fluffed a cross that should have led to another Pilkington goal. Not at his brilliant best, but still Wigan's best player on the day.

Ronnie Stam: 5 – disappointing. His crosses were not up to his usual standard.

Emmerson Boyce: 5 – had problems dealing with Pilkington. Disappointing.

Adrian Lopez: 5 – pacy and committed, but lacks aerial presence. Together with Figueroa should have cut out Norwich's second goal. Pulled a hamstring in added on time.

Maynor Figueroa: 5 – unimpressive. He has played too much football over the past year and needs a break. However, he is not going to get one until Wigan's injury woes subside.

Jean Beausejour: 4 – out of touch.

James McCarthy: 6 – fine until crocked by injury in first half. Went off at half-time.

James McArthur: 6 – tried hard, but it was not his best day.

Jordi Gomez: 4 – ineffective and lightweight. Taken off at half-time.

Mauro Boselli: 4.5 – could not get into the game. Taken off on 72 minutes.

Arouna Kone: 6 – looked lively in this more 'roaming role'. Not afraid to take on defenders. Got another assist with his cutback to Maloney for Wigan's goal.

Substitutes

David Jones: 5 – hard working, but passing too predictable. Lacking spark.

Shaun Maloney: 6 – his goal revealed his excellent technique. Worked hard to get Wigan moving, but to no avail. Why wasn't he on from the start?

Franco Di Santo: - came on for Boselli. Put a lovely pass through for Kone in the dying moments.

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