No Tottenham fan who has watched Spurs this season can have been completely surprised by the Premier League defeat at home to Wigan Athletic. It has been a result that has been threatened all season. While Tottenham have climbed to fourth place their performances have been unconvincing and in all of them they’ve ridden their good fortune and held on to get the win. Wigan’s win wasn’t achieved through a backs to the walls defensive performance for ninety minutes with a goal snatched in a rare foray forward. Their deserved win came because they were well organised, worked hard and showed enterprise going forward which constantly troubled Tottenham’s defence. Wigan defended in numbers with five across midfield protecting their three central defenders but they also attacked quickly in force with men getting forward to support their front men. On previous occasions, following a shock home defeat, the visiting team’s goalkeeper has put in a ‘Man of the Match’ performance but not yesterday. Wigan’s Al Habsi had a relatively quiet afternoon so effective was the Wigan defensive plan and so lacking in creative ideas were Tottenham.
A result like yesterday’s has been on the cards all season. It’s just that in previous matches Tottenham have been able to gather themselves, lift their game and get the goals which have saved them. This time they couldn’t do that and in truth never looked like getting anything from the game once Wigan had taken the lead on 55 minutes. Even with thirty five minutes to play while Tottenham increased their effort and Wigan were forced to play deeper, Spurs didn’t create a clear cut opening on goal. Wigan had one moment of good fortune when they cleared Steven Caulker’s header off the line from a corner. Equally, if Spurs have been similarly organised with a defender on the post for a corner he could have prevented Watson’s winning goal from crossing the line. A home defeat can sometimes be explained as ‘just one of those results you get during the season’ but this loss was a culmination of what has been happening with Spurs all season.
Although Spurs’ defeat against Wigan was only their third League defeat of the season, their performances have not been convincing especially at home and the wins covered a multitude of failings.
Tottenham at Home (2112-13)
- West Brom (Draw 1 – 1): Spurs controlled the match for an hour but in last thirty minutes, having gone ahead, defended poorly to concede a late goal and West Brom could have won the match in the closing minutes.
- Norwich ( Draw 1 – 1): Poor for much of the game but scored in the second half. Another late equaliser for Norwich as Brad Fredel won ‘Man of the Match’ award.
- Q.P.R (Won 2 – 1): A poor first half performance as QPR took the lead. Two goals in a minute rescued Spurs against a team who have yet to win the League this season.
- Aston Villa (Won 2 – 0): Spurs scored two second half goals to secure victory after Villa spurned good opportunities to take the lead
- Chelsea (Lost 2 – 4): Spurs had a good period early in second half which enabled them to recover from being a goal down at the interval but Chelsea had too many creative options.
- Wigan (Lost 0 – 1): Spurs had greater possession but their play was slow and lacked creativity allowing Wigan to settle into their game with the visitors becoming stronger as match progressed.
The only home game in which Spurs have performed well through the entire match was the scoreless draw with Lazio when they had the misfortune to have three goals disallowed while in the Chelsea match Spurs clearly missed Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele while against Wigan, without Dembele, they lacked a presence in central midfield.
Even away from home there has been a measure of holding on desperately in the closing stages as their opponents have come back at them. The win at Old Trafford was exceptional but was based on an outstanding first half and then defending in depth for all of the second half. That type of performance was always going to be required to achieve success at Old Trafford but the same was required at Southampton last weekend. Having scored two first half goals and dominated the game for forty five minutes there was a complete turn around and in the end Spurs were relieved to hear the final whistle. In last week’s Cup defeat, Spurs controlled the match for eighty minutes but had only scored once, losing to two goals in the final ten minutes.
Spur’s inability to perform for a full ninety minutes and press home their advantage when in control or the dominant team has caught up with them in the last two matches and are two of a number of issues that Andre Villas-Boas will have to address in the coming days with three important matches in the next fortnight.
Spurs lost at home to Wigan but it wasn’t really a ‘shock’ result.