Date: 29th December 2007 at 6:42pm
Written by: baskerville

On a day of torrential rain and gale force winds the game was never going to be about clever football but about who could adapt the best.

In the end this was our visitors who in totally dominating the second half exposed our chronic lack of depth within the squad and sent us back into the bottom three of the premier league.

Wigan named an unchanged side the only difference on the bench where Granqvist replaced Boyce.

There was still no sign of the injured Heskey nor the absent Koumas who it is rumoured on the terraces is to be moved on in the transfer window

The Latics started brightly with all the play coming down the right where the partnership between Melchiot and Valencia was causing problems for the Villa defence.

Within the first 15 minutes Valencia had fired the ball across the slippery surface into the penalty area where Bent and Sibs both contrived to miss hit the ball when unchallenged .

When the goal came it was as a result of a corner from the man of the moment Taylor.

The corner was met with a bullet header from Bramble giving Carson no chance in the Villa goal.

Indeed the header was so beautifully headed into the net that the announcer gave it to Bent no doubt assuming the goal had been scored by a striker not a defender.

Villa had very few chances in the first half to trouble Kirkland and when they did break they found the Wigan centre halves in imperious form.

One tackle from Scharner on Carew ending the strikers contribution for the afternoon. Carew appealed for a free kick but the referee Howard Webb who is by far the best referee in the premiership waved play on.

Latics were driving the ball forward throughout the first half with Brown and Landzaat out muscling Reo Coker and his teammates.

The second half saw a marked change in fortunes. Although Latics had a half chance in the 46th minutes they were on the back foot for most of the 2nd half as Villa passed Wigan off the park.

The equaliser when it came was very similar to the Wigan goal , Sibs had conceded a corner when tackling a villa player on the edge of the area the ball squirting off the pitch.

Davies rose to head the resultant corner past the stationary Kirkland.

The game carried on in the same vein and Latics previous outlet of driving down the right wing withered as the half went on.

Latics replaced the rapidly tiring Sibs with Agahowa and then replaced the industrious Landzaat with the ineffective Olembe.

Neither provided any worthwhile contribution which only served to expose the lack of depth in the squad.

The fatalistic Latics fans expected the winning Villa goal but when it came it had a degree of controversy about it.

A cross from Young which appeared to have gone out for a dead ball fell to Agbonlahor who headed into an empty net Kirkland having been left exposed once again.

All the players looked to the assistant referee but the flag stayed down and the goal stood

Latics tried to push forward in search of an equaliser but created very little other than a few set pieces which were comfortably dealt with by the Villa defence which had been pulled apart by Latics in the first half.

The final whistle was accompanied by the news that Latics had dropped into the bottom three and will have left Steve Bruce under no illusion of the task ahead of him if Wigan are to beat the drop.


Looking at the squad we have only Koumas , Pollitt, Boyce and Heskey would be considered as challengers for a first team spot. 15 players isn`t enough to stay in this division

Player Ratings

Poor command of his area left him exposed for both goals. Flapped at several set pieces.

Worked hard against the effervescent Young

Was caught for pace time and again in the second half.

Imperious in defence and scored a great goal

Caught day dreaming several times but also pulled off several good tackles

Sublime first half, poor second half

Worked hard and I was surprised when he was substituted as he was the main creator..

Michael Brown 8
Produced a committed performance both in defence and attack.

Taylor 7
Another good display from the young defender come midfielder, perfect delivery for Brambles goal

Ran himself ragged but without much quality ball. Missed a couple of half chances which cost us dear.

Sibierski ?5.5
Didn`t look like adding to his three goals tally. Still doesn`t look fit

Not good enough for this league. Offers nothing to the team

Some of his passing was appalling and didn`t make one tackle in the time he was on the pitch .

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce?6/10

Motivated the team well before the start but his substitution of Olembe for Landzaat and the subsequent re-organisaiton of the midfield with Valencia moving inside and Taylor switching to the right wing is puzzling when Skoko was on the bench and would have been a straight swap for Landzaat.

The transfer window will be crucial for Bruce and Latics` future

Referee Watch
Howard Webb?.9 /10

The best referee in the Premier League by miles. Lets the game flow and only books players when absolutely necessary. What is depressing is that when you compare him to the others they are exposed for being poor