December 29, 2012
More misery for Villa
Crisis club Aston Villa alarmingly dropped deeper into a Premier League relegation battle with another abject performance in a 3-0 defeat to Wigan.
The visitors, meanwhile, moved out of the bottom three with a conclusive victory to record their first win in seven matches which highlighted Villa's dramatic shortcomings.
Villa, watched by club owner Randy Lerner, never recovered from a disastrous start when Ivan Ramis gave the Latics a morale-boosting lead after only three minutes.
Two goals in the space of four minutes early in the second half from Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone sealed Villa's fate as their confidence visibly evaporated.
In the continued absence of such players as Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia and Nathan Baker, the options open to under-pressure manager Paul Lambert are very limited as illustrated in this latest defeat.
Just how much a lightweight Villa are missing the commanding presence of Dunne was highlighted as early as the third minute when Wigan took a shock lead.
Villa's inability to defend set-pieces was blatantly exposed in the third minute after the ball ran out for a corner as Matthew Lowton appeared to handle.
Jean Beausejour's accurate corner was perfectly placed for the unmarked Ramis to mark his return after missing six games with a powerful header past the transfixed Brad Guzan.
It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a steep hill to climb.
Penalty decisions have gone against Wigan this season and on this occasion they were again out of favour when Stephen Ireland appeared to foul Shaun Maloney.
Seconds later Maloney had a wild shot from the edge of the area with a gaping goal at his mercy when Villa were again on the wrong foot.
Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge.
Christian Benteke was extremely subdued and it was left to the industrious Andress Weimann to pressurise Wigan's defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock solid.
Pulling the strings for the visitors was Maloney. The Scotland international formerly played for Villa but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick before joining Wigan last year.
Benteke finally found a route through Wigan's defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.
After Boyce and Maloney were booked for reckless tackles, Villa's best chance of an equaliser fell to Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the crossbar with an angled shot.
All these efforts in search of an equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan consolidated their lead.
Boyce raced through despite the attention of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.
In the 56th minute Kone himself got in on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Franco Di Santo as he sliced his way through Villa's dithering defence to score from a tight angle despite a challenge from Guzan.
Villa made a triple substitution sending on Karim El Ahmadi, Jordan Bowery and Marc Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Eric Lichaj.
The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.
|Aston Villa||Wigan Athletic|
|22 Brad Guzan||26 Ali Al Habsi|
|31 Chris Herd||5 Gary Caldwell|
|6 Ciaran Clark||31 Maynor Figueroa|
|34 Matthew Lowton||21 Ivan Ramis|
|27 Joseph Bennett||6 David Jones|
|30 Eric Lichaj||4 James McCarthy|
|7 Stephen Ireland||22 Jean Beausejour|
|25 Barry Bannan||17 Emmerson Boyce|
|14 Brett Holman||9 Franco Di Santo|
|20 Christian Benteke||10 Shaun Maloney|
|26 Andreas Weimann||2 Arouna Koné|
|15 Ashley Westwood||Michael Pollitt 12|
|1 Shay Given||Ronnie Stam 23|
|8 Karim El Ahmadi||James McArthur 16|
|21 Jordan Bowery||Jordi Gómez 14|
|12 Marc Albrighton||Callum McManaman 15|
|29 Enda Stevens||Roman Golobart 25|
|40 Samir Carruthers||Mauro Boselli 19|
|Karim El Ahmadi for Stephen Ireland (63)||James McArthur for David Jones (65)|
|Jordan Bowery for Brett Holman (64)||Jordi Gómez for Jean Beausejour (79)|
|Marc Albrighton for Eric Lichaj (64)||Callum McManaman for Arouna Koné (87)|
|Barry Bannan (55)||Emmerson Boyce (37)|
|Matthew Lowton (80)||Shaun Maloney (43)|
|Andreas Weimann (90)|
|· Squads: Aston Villa | Wigan Athletic|