Date: 5th April 2009 at 7:08pm
Written by: Baskerville

Much of the talk this week has been about Amr Zaki and how his absence wopuld affect the dressing room. Whether his absence did have an effect is open to question but what happened today was that Wigan served up their worse performance of the season.

Steve Bruce made one change to the starting line up, replacing Rodellaga with the returning Valencia and retaining a 4-5-1 line up.

On the bench Zaki was replaced by Sibierski which showed the lack of depth in the Latics forward line.

Against Hull the 4-5-1 was used as an attacking model but today it was a totally defensive mode, with Mido stationed on the half way line and the other nine outfielders defending deep, hoping to soak up the Everton pressure.

For twenty five minutes it worked, with Michael Brown harrying Felliani and Cahill in midfield. Up front for Wigan, chances were at a premium, Mido hit a smart volley from outside the area which was comfortably saved by Howard and Scharner should have done better with a clear header.

The opening goal, when it came was well taken although the blame can be laid at Boyce’s feet who played Jo onside. The big Brazilian, who couldn’t buy a goal at Man City clinically struck the ball past Kirkland.

In truth it was no more than Everton deserved, they were sharper to the ball and three of Wigan’s midfield (Scharner,N’Zogbia and Valencia) had a collective off day.

Wigan’s favourite referee Mr Down delivered his usual ineffective performance, ignoring the persistent fouling by Cahill and Jagelka but booking Brown and Melchiot.

At half time Bruce opted to replace the best player on the pitch for Wigan in Michael Brown , one assumes to keep him from being sent off replacing him with Hugo Rodellaga and reverting to 4-4-2.

The new formation was breached after Felliani shot past Kirkland with only two minutes of the second half gone, after the Latics back four failed to close him down.

Three minutes later and it was three with Jo being left with a simple tap in after Kirkland saved well from Felliani but couldn’t hold the ball and it was game over.

Four minutes later and Felliani once again shot, Kirkland couldn’t hold the ball again and this time Billinge born Osman made it four.

That was the end of the scoring, Everton made three quick changes and were content to sit back and defend against a Wigan side, who could have played until midnight and not have scored.

Time and again Wigan got to the edge of the penalty area but only Watson seemed to have the confidence to shoot.

The final whistle came as a relief for the noisy travelling Wigan fans. Too many Wigan players were found wanting today and once again the Wigan forwards failed to come up with a goal.

Steve Bruce has a lot of work to do this week to lift the team, from this terrible team effort with the on form Arsenal at the JJB next week.

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland…5/10
Failed to hold two shots which cost us two goals but in reality at two nil down it was too late anyway.

Mario Melchiot…5/10
Worked hard but was let down by those around him.

Maynor Figueroa…4/10
A poor game today.

Titus Bramble…5/10
Not a good day at the office.

Emerson Boyce…4/10
Was responsible for the first goal and had a really off day

Michael Brown…6/10
Says a lot that the best player on the pitch for Wigan was only on for 45 minutes.

Charles N’Zogbia…4/10

Antonio Valencia…4/10
Very poor.

Ben Watson…5.5/10
Tried hard but was outclassed by Cahill, Felliani et al.

Paul Schanrner…3/10
Looks totally lost in midfield, Doesn’t tackle and does nothing going forward. Wasted a good chance in the first half.

Ran around a lot but didn’t look like scoring which is what he is paid to do.

Hugo Rodellaga…5/10
Some neat touches but seem determined to pass when he ahd a chance to shoot.

De Ridder…4/10
Late replacement for Valencia but offered nothing

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce 4/10. Gambled with a defensive formation and was found wanting. Lack of forwards at the club will cost us.

Cancelling the plans for a Europaen tour would appear prudent.

Phil Dowd…3/10
What a homer. Booked Melchiot and Brown for their first fouls and allows Cahill to commit five fouls without punishment.

Let the Everton centre halves batter Mido.