Date: 8th November 2008 at 4:00pm
Written by: Baskerville

Latics arrived at the JJB today with the worrying statistic of only scoring three goals at home ( one pnealty) in five home games. This record is now three goals in six games and Stev Brucwe must be concerned that his team have an inability to break down teams who come to defned.

Steve Bruce unsurprisingly opted to keep faith with the same team that won at Portsmouth last week, the only change being Kingson replacing Pollitt on the bench.

The first half was probably the worst half of Premier League football I have witnessed. Stoke a re a big physical team who use their midfielders predominantly as supplementary defenders and rely on their defenders to play the ball long for their industrious strikers to chase.

Latics unfortuantley allowed themselves to be sucked into playing the same with Palacios and Cattermole largely by-passed by their own team mates.

Zaki and Heskey were once again straved on any quality ball and were reduced to scrapping for loose balls. Latics most creative player was Jason Koumas but too often the final ball found clean air.

Stoke’s most attacking moves predictably came from Delap’s throw ins aimed at the giant Shawcross but Wigan managed to deal with them competantly if not confortably.Latics best chance of the first half was a long range shot from Palacios which went close to Sorenson’s post

Half time was a welcome relief for both sets of fans who had witnessed a half which was more suited to Coca Cola division one.

The second half saw Latics atatcking with more purpose with Valencia and Kouams looking dangerous and Palacios pushing forward more often although yet again the final balls were poor and Wigan seemed content to either walk the ball intot he net or shoot from outside the area.

Emile Heskey appeared to take a knock in the first half and limped off in the 57th minute to be replaced by henri Camara. Camara looked sharp and his pace and lack of height seemd the catalyst for the Latics to play the ball on the gorund which created more chances, the best falling to Palacios and Koumas but both were well saved by Sorenson.

Bramble also had a shot well saved and it was evident that Latics weren’t going to get the three points that they needed.

Latics also appeared to have a good shout for a penalty but Mr Riley who had a good game waved play on.

Full time bought muted applause for the Wigan fans who are becoming increassingly concenred about their ability to accrue points at home

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…7/10
Could have come and sat with us in the East stand and wouldn’t have conceeded. Won’t have an eaaier afternoon’s work this season.

Mario Melchio…6/10
Had a virus this week and seemed off the pace this afternoon.

Maynor Figueroa…6.5/10
Worked hard all afternoon, on occasions tried the hard instead of the simple pass.

Titus Bramble…7.5/10
A confident, assured performance, couldnt argue with his booking

Emerson Boyce…7/10
Kept Sidibie and Fuller quiet

Antonio Valencia…6.5/10
Not his best performance. Got caught in possession several times.

Wilson Palacios…6.5/10
Has the defensive game for the Premier League but currently lacks the creative spark the forwards so desperately need.

Lee Cattermole…7/10
Tried to push Latics forward and defended well

Jason Koumas…8/10
Ran, passed and shot all afternoon. Not all of them came off but at least he tried. A superb swerving shot was brilliantly saved by Sorenson

Emile Heskey…6/10
Didn’t get much change out of the Stoke defence in the air

Amr Zaki…6/10
Well marshalled by the Stoke defence and was denied any quality ball in the penalty area

Henri Camara…6/10
Looked sharp, but didnt recieve much quality ball in goal scoring postions.

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…6/10

Needs to come up with a cunning plan to break down defensive minded teams at the JJB. So far he hasn’t

Re-enforcements needed
The lack of quality on the bench and the absence of a creative midifelder within the squad means Steve Bruce must strengthen in the transfer window. Also two new strikers and another centre half is required

Lets hear it for Mike Riley
Mike Riley probably gave the best referring performance I have seen this season. Was pragmatic regarding the tackling and didn’t book anyone unless it was deserved.

Well done Mike