Martinez is the master of surprise at Wigan
PUBLISHED: 16:20 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:32 07 September 2010
GAME theory suggests that, in a game of poker, it is wise to bluff on an entirely random basis – regardless of the short-term results, it makes a player impossible to read and predict...
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW
Tottenham Hotspur v Wigan Athletic
Sunday November 22, 3pm
By Ben Pearce
GAME theory suggests that, in a game of poker, it is wise to bluff on an entirely random basis - regardless of the short-term results, it makes a player impossible to read and predict.
Roberto Martinez may not be into cards, philosophy or sports psychology, but he has nevertheless mastered the art of surprise in his first few months at Wigan.
It is probably fair to say that no-one knows what to expect from the Latics, and it is virtually impossible to formulate any kind of pattern to Athletic's form.
After all, this is the team that beat Chelsea 3-1 at home, lost 2-1 away at Hull the following week and then held Manchester City 1-1 up in Lancashire.
Aha! A pattern, and an obvious one. It is hardly new to find a team who are formidable at home but struggle on the road. The 4-1 drubbing at Blackpool in the Carling Cup certainly seems to support this theory.
Unfortunately that would be too simple. Having replaced Steve Bruce, ex-Swansea boss Martinez made his Premier League debut with a 2-0 victory away at Aston Villa - still the only game the Villans have lost at home.
And last month Wigan travelled to Turf Moor to face Burnley, who have won every other home game - beating Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland along the way.
At this moment the Clarets have scored 10 goals at home and conceded just five. Of course, Wigan scored three of those, winning 3-1. The following week they lost 4-0 at bottom club Portsmouth.
Meanwhile, Martinez may have overseen victories over Chelsea and West Ham at the DW Stadium, but he has also endured a 1-0 defeat against Wolves and a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester United on home turf.
The only decisive conclusion that can be made about Athletic is that they concede a lot of goals - having shipped 22 so far, only four teams have a worse defensive record.
Titus Bramble is arguably the posterboy for Wigan's inconsistency, while 31-year-old stand-in left-back Erik Edman - who will be familar to Spurs fans - has made just two appearances this season and five in total in the last 15 months.
At the other end of the pitch, having taken Jason Scotland with him from Swansea, Martinez is yet to see 30-year-old £2million striker Jason Scotland find the net from 13 appearances.
And, although January recruit Hugo Rodallega has chipped in with five goals so far this campaign, midfielders Charles N'Zogbia, Paul Scharner, Mohamed Diame and Hendry Thomas have added just three between them in all competitions.
Ham&High Sport verdict: It is impossible to know which Wigan will turn up. But, with Aston Villa, Everton and Man City all to come in the next month, as well as Man United in the Carling Cup, Spurs must win this one regardless of how their visitors are feeling on the day - the confidence and momentum will be almost as important as the points.
The visitors' 4-4-1-1 formation will often look like 4-5-1 as teams continue to pack the midfield at the Lane, and Martinez will have observed that Spurs have recently struggled to play through that system.
As usual, Aaron Lennon's width will be a key weapon and, assuming he is now fit, he will fancy a good run at former team-mate Edman on his return to action.
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