Inside Lane: A Spurs fan’s view on the defeat against Wigan
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg gives his verdict on Saturday’s shock reverse against Roberto Martinez’s Latics.
A record of two wins from six home league games and another poor display at White Hart Lane were enough to heap the pressure right back onto Tottenham for their next home fixture, as boos were heard at the final whistle on Saturday.
Spurs’ most abject display since Norwich in early September and the similarities between the two performances were too many for comfort.
The next home league fixture is not until November 25 – but there will be plenty of pressure for that game given that it is a London derby against West Ham, who are close behind in the league table as things stand.
Wigan managed to check the momentum that Tottenham had built up through September and October, almost from the offset.
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Taking a deserved 1-0 win after half time, they became the first team this season to keep Spurs from scoring in the league without even forcing Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal to put in a great performance.
Roberto Martinez, who was briefly linked with the Tottenham job during the summer, picked a side that dominated possession and controlled the match, despite not having the most shots on goal or the high-profile players.
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Shaun Maloney was a great example and he is enjoying a superb 2012, doing far more at his end than Clint Dempsey managed at the other.
It has been a bad week for Tottenham with the midweek League Cup exit to Norwich - late Dempsey penalty miss and all - and continuing fears over Mousa Dembele’s availability with his reoccurring hip injury.
Spurs were missing anyone who could confidently put their foot on the ball and drive Wigan back through the middle - just as they missed a strong, fast, energetic midfielder to prevent the Latics from passing the match to death the other way.
If you had to pick any Tottenham who you would not have wanted to get injured on Saturday (other than Gareth Bale of course) it would have been Sandro, but he was forced off after just 23 minutes and replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Sandro is not yet at Dembele’s level, particularly in possession, but he keeps pressure on the opposition in a way that Tom Huddlestone and Sigurdsson simply can’t.
Andre Villas-Boas has been criticised in some quarters for the thinness of his squad and the options in central midfield.
But with five central midfielders to choose from - before you even get to Tom Carroll, Iago Falque or Sigurdsson as possible emergency cover - you’d have to put it down to bad luck rather than poor planning.
With Dembele, Sandro, Scott Parker and Jake Livermore all out of action by half-time on Saturday, Spurs’ midfield crisis resembles Manchester United’s unlucky issues at centre-back.
Dembele has been particularly badly missed, as the statistics show – Tottenham have won all four of the league games that he’s started and have taken just five points from a possible 18 when he’s not.
Meanwhile, it’s rare to see a goalkeeper end up behind his goal-line in a match, so for it to happen twice in seven days to Brad Friedel was quite surprising.
Had he stayed on the right side of his line, he may well have prevented the goals scored by Ben Watson on Saturday and Jay Rodriguez’s strike for Southampton the previous weekend.
Friedel actually got a strong block on Watson’s effort, and the ensuing follow-up, so it was probably extremely frustrating for him to see the goal counted anyway.
Interestingly, given the debate over the goalkeepers and the praise that the American has received for his consistency, he is yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
Ultimately, Spurs fans were left to reflect on a second consecutive league defeat at White Hart Lane and yet another game where Spurs were unable to string a strong first half and second half together.
That has only happened against Aston Villa and probably Man Unite - although we were under siege for the last half-hour there.
But despite all of that, the league position remains remarkably positive.
Everton let a lead slip late on against Fulham to move ahead of Spurs only on goal difference, while Arsenal remain two points behind having failed to pull off what would have been their own shock win at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Newcastle took points off each other to sit six points and three points behind respectively.
Next up in the league are the trips to the Etihad and the Emirates - and neither Man City nor Arsenal are hitting their early 2012 form, though Tottenham aren’t exactly blowing teams away either.
That said, City’s home record is still immense and Arsenal’s midfield is very strong, so Spurs are certainly up against it – particularly if they don’t get some good news on the injury front before they host the Hammers on November 17.