Spurs v Wigan: Latics warming up for another walloping
AS Tottenham prepare to host Wigan on Saturday, it is hard to forget the ecstasy of this fixture last season, when a rampant Spurs side battered the Latics 9-1 at White Hart Lane...
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW BY BEN PEARCE
Tottenham v Wigan Athletic, Saturday 3pm
AS Tottenham prepare to host Wigan on Saturday, it is hard to forget the ecstasy of this fixture last season, when a rampant Spurs side battered the Latics 9-1 at White Hart Lane.
It was a crazy scoreline in a freak game, the kind of match that only comes around once in a decade or so. Lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice - surely.
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Unfortunately for the Wigan supporters who make the trip to Tottenham this weekend, that reassuring adage will hold precious little comfort. More than few will return to N17 fearing a repeat performance, and their team has certainly given them every reason to feel apprehensive.
The Latics have made the worst start to a top-flight campaign in Premier League history, conceding 10 goals in two defeats and failing to score themselves. Add the 8-0 defeat to Chelsea on the final day of the last season and Wigan's last three matches have an aggregate score of 18-0.
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Admittedly, two of the three matches in question have been at Stamford Bridge. However, Wigan kicked off the new campaign with a 4-0 home defeat to Blackpool - and Ian Holloway's Seasiders have subsequently been thrashed 6-0 by Arsenal.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan is notoriously loyal to his managers, but even he may struggle to ignore his survival instincts, and bookmakers list Roberto Martinez as the most vulnerable Premier League manager.
In truth, Wigan's unfamiliar teamsheet reeks of relegation. A perennially porous rearguard is compounded by an uninspiring midfield, who are struggling to create chances for an impotent front line.
Martinez has been busy in the transfer market this summer, signing seven players. But, if anything, Wigan look worse.
The Latics have lost Titus Bramble to Sunderland while Mario Melchiot and Paul Scharner have both departed after their contracts expired, and Jason Koumas has been loaned to Cardiff.
Meanwhile, Martinez is continuing with a suicidal transfer policy - bringing in average players from inferior leagues and thrusting untested foreigners into the spotlight.
The Wigan boss recruited Jason Scotland and Victor Moses from the Championship last season and saw them score a combined total of three goals from 50 appearances, while Gary Caldwell arrived from Celtic but was unable to shore up the back line.
This summer midfielder James McArthur has arrived from Hamilton, having scored one goal in 38 appearances in Scotland last season, and Dutch midfielder Daniel De Ridder failed to score in 22 games during a loan spell at the DW Stadium last season - but has still earned a permanent deal.
Meanwhile, Wigan have signed four new defenders, but three of them started on Saturday and shipped six goals against Chelsea. Centre-backs Antolin Alcarez and Ronnie Stam have arrived from FC Bruges and FC Twente respectively, while right-back Steve Gohouri has come from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Caldwell is currently out of action with a thigh injury while left-back Maynor Figueroa could also miss the trip to Tottenham with a knee problem, having been replaced by Emerson Boyce at Stamford Bridge.
Wigan have responded to their defensive crisis by signing Steven Caldwell - brother of Gary - a free agent after being discarded by Burnley at the end of last season when his contract ran out.
At the other end of the field, the Latics have splashed out �6m on little-known Argentinian striker Mauro Boselli, who has arrived from Estudiantes de la Plata, but he is yet to open his account for the season - along with all of his team-mates.
Wigan are in the process of selling Scotland, who failed to justify his promotion from the Championship last season, while Charles N'Zogbia - one of the few bright sparks in the Latics team - has submitted a transfer request.
THE VERDICT: Wigan have very little quality in their side these days and the central pairing of Hendry Thomas and Mohamed Diame are ill-equipped to compete with the division's best middle men.
Most importantly, the Latics are suffering from a severe lack of pace in almost every department. That will be a big problem, as it has been against Blackpool and Chelsea, as they prepare to face Aaron Lennon and, in particular, Gareth Bale.
Wigan are currently operating with a completely new back line, who look individually poor and are all trying to gel as a unit.
This looks like a fairly comfortable home win and, if Tottenham create their usual glut of chances at the Lane, this could be another eye-watering scoreline.