Date: 13th December 2008 at 7:10pm
Written by: Baskerville

A masterclass in football by Valencia played a major part in securing a third consecutive home win for Bruce’s WIgan and increasing the pressure on Paul Ince.

Bruce was forced to make two changes from the team that lost at Arsenal replacing the injured and suspended Boyce and Palacios with Scharner and Brown. He also opted to recall the fit again Zaki thereby consigning Camara to the bench.

WIgan started off with a purpose, with Valencia giving Warnock a torrid time on the right ably supported by Melchiot. Heskey looked sharp up front and had a tremendous battle with the overtly physical Samba.

Latics caused constant problems for the Rovers defence all afternoon with Brown and Cattermole running the show in midfield easily overwhelming the Rovers pair of Andrews and Tudgay.

It was no surpries when the first goal came but the manner of the goal was. Predictably the chance was created by Valencia who flew down the right and crossed ow and hard, Heskey appeared to have overrun the ball but a sublime back heel left Robinson stranded and Latics were one nil up.

Two minutes later and Wigan had doubled their lead and once again Valencia was involved, this time as creator and finisher. He received the ball on the right from Melchiot cut inside and charged into the penalty area, it appeared that he was shaping towards the near post but instead blasted the ball into the far corner leaving Robinson with no chance.

Latics looked comfortable and sat back to defend the lead, allowing Rovers more than their fair share of possession. Wigan’s defence, superbly marshalled by Bramble reduced Santa Cruz and Derbyshire to half chances which were comfortably dealt with by Kirkland.

In the last ten minutes of the first hald Latics awoke from their slumber and once again exposed the multitudinous weaknesses in the Rover’s side. Valencia shot narrowly over and then created a chance for Cattermole who headed against the bar.
Latics’ talismanic striker Zaki was closely shackled all afternoon but had a good chance before half time but snatched at his shot which rolled wide.

Blackburn started the second half with more purpose but again with Brown and Cattermole completely dominating midfield, Latics rarely looked troubled.Indeed the one superb save Kirkland made was from a Taylor back header.

Rovers huffed and puffed but it was Wigan’s day and the win was sealed when Cattermole scored a deserved goal.

With the game agasint Man Utd postponed next week, Wigan completed their pre festive preparations with a well deserved win and ensured that the Latics’ faithful had an enjoyable Christmas.

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…8/10
Did everything asked of him and once again outshone one of his England compatriots.

Mario Melchiot…8/10
A captain’s performance.

Maynor Figueroa…7/10
A competant performance.

Titus Bramble…9/10
Surely the most improved player in 2008 in the whole of the Premier League.

Paul Scharner…7/10
A predominatly efficient performance marred by moments of eccentricity.

Ryan Taylor…6/10
Played out of position and it showed.

Michael Brown…8/10
Ran his socks off.

Lee Cattermole…9/10
The bargain buy of the season.

Antonio Valencia..10/10
I have run out of superlatives to describe his performances.

Emile Heskey…8/10
Worked hard all afternoon and scored an excellent goal.

Amr Zaki…7/10
Never gave up but was closely marked. Should have done better with his chance in the first half.

Kevin Kilbane…6/10
Little chance to shine.

Henri Camara…6/10
Good anticipation but has lost some of his pace.
Bottled a couple of chances.

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…8/10. Has some strong personalities to manage and the genial geordie seems to be in control. We may be safe by February!!!

Howard Webb…8/10
The best Premeir League referee by a mile althpugh how he managed not to book Samba is beyond me.