What a performance, what a result, what a day to be a Wigan fan! I never doubted all week that we would beat Newcastle, but as confident as I was even I didn’t expect a performance and scoreline of this magnitude. The visitors were on the back of six straight wins, but this is a Wigan side who have ended longer winning runs recently, namely those of Manchester United and Arsenal.
Buoyed with three injury boosts going into the game, the home side welcomed back Shaun Maloney to the starting line-up. The influential Scot wasn’t fit enough to start each of the last two games. Franco Di Santo shook off an injury which forced his first-half withdrawal at Fulham to lead the line. Hugo Rodallega also made the bench after seven weeks out injured.
Wigan hit their straps right from the off and went in front after just thirteen minutes. Shaun Maloney played a delightful ball out wide to Emmerson Boyce. Boyce couldn’t beat his man on his stronger right foot and elected to cross with his weaker left instead. His cross was inch perfect for Victor Moses to beat Mike Williamson and loop a header into the top corner and give the home side a deserved early lead.
Less than two minutes had passed since the opener and Moses was causing havoc again. It was Maloney again who got things moving. His outrageous backhell pass while under pressure set Moses free down the left. He gave the ball to Beausejour and then continued his run into the box. Beausejour’s first-time cross was blocked as Coloccini stuck out a leg to prevent the ball reaching an unmarked Di Santo. His block fell kindly at the feet of Moses, who calmly slotted home to double Wigan’s advantage. It was a quite remarkable start to the game, and Wigan didn’t stop there.
With their tails well and truly up Wigan went in search of more goals to put the game out of sight, and they duly came. Di Santo played a delightful defence-splitting ball out to Maloney. The pass was so good it allowed Maloney to get in behind Danny Simpson and run unchallenged towards goal. Just as it looked like he would elect to pass across goal he slid the ball home under Krul to make it 3-0.
So far it was fair to say that Newcastle were struggling against Moses, Maloney and Di Santo, and it was the latter who completed the rout with a deserved goal of his own. Newcastle got men behind the ball towards the end of the first half to stop Wigan increasing their lead. Franco Di Santo tried his luck from range. His high, looping effort seemed to take an age to reach its destination, but its destination was the top corner of the net and the destination was reached! It was the goal of the game, and there was no deflection this time after his two deflected long range efforts against QPR in August.
The second half was never going to match the first for goals and drama. Newcastle’s plan was to simply salvage some pride, while Wigan didn’t want to press forward in great numbers and risk letting Newcastle back into the game. Chances were few and far between for both sides, although the best both fell to in-form frontman Papiss Cisse. First he broke clear of the offside trap only to see his curling shot glanced off the top of the bar and out to safety. Later he headed a brilliant Ben Arfa cross against the inside of the post.
The game ended 4-0. Most crucially it’s another vital three points in the battle to beat the drop. Into the bargain the size of the result means the goal difference has come right down to minus 22 and after Sunday’s results the club now has the best goal difference in the bottom five.
I said to a mate recently that I felt someone was due a battering against us. We’ve been virtually faultless and creating countless chances since early February, but the goals have never come to back that up. To do it against an in-form team such as Newcastle is quite an achievement, and it could have been more.
Wigan have started to love the DW Stadium again. Having gone seven months without a home win this season that’s now three straight home wins, each without conceding a goal. Meanwhile, Newcastle must hate the DW Stadium. This was their sixth visit, and they headed back to the north east on the back of a fifth defeat there. No away team has lost more at the DW than Newcastle United.
It’s now five wins from seven games for a Wigan side whose tally of 22 points from 29 games looked vastly insufficient following the home draw with West Brom six weeks ago. It’s been an incredible turnaround in form from Roberto Martinez and his side. To put in top performances against teams such as Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United and now Newcastle speaks volumes of the effort that has gone in to turning things around.
It’s never good to single out individuals when the team as a whole is playing so well. However, the form of the likes of Victor Moses, Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo have been key to the recent resurgence. The latter in particular is playing his best football in a Wigan shirt and is leading the line superbly. Just when we were starting to question the purchase of Shaun Maloney he’s come into the team for these past nine games and been a revelation. And the form of Moses almost makes you forget Charles N’Zogbia was ever a Wigan player, almost!
At the back the three-man defence looks solid and gives nothing away. I can’t remember the last time one of our centre backs made a mistake, while Ali Al Habsi has had little to do recently. Twelve goals conceded in thirteen games underlines how well the defence is performing right now.
In midfield you can see that James McCarthy and James McArthur grew up playing football together at Hamilton. The understanding they’ve developed since McArthur replaced Diame in the starting line-up in January is key to Wigan dominating teams in midfield, and Saturday was another example of that. McArthur, for me, would be a contender for player of the season had he featured more. Skipper Caldwell gets my vote, if you’re interested!
In my opinion one more point should now suffice. If that were to come in the next fixture at Blackburn it could well relegate our Lancashire neighbours into the bargain. It’s not over with yet, but safety is so close you can almost touch it.
Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Caldwell (c), Maloney, Moses (Gomez 83), McArthur, Boyce, Beausejour, Di Santo (Sammon 68), Figueroa.
Unused Subs: Pollitt, Crusat, Jones, Rodallega, Diame.
Goals: Moses 13, 15, Maloney 36, Di Santo 45 (+2)
Starman: Shaun Maloney
Newcastle United: Krul, Coloccini, Santon, Cabaye (Ferguson 83), Simpson (Perch 81), Williamson, Cisse, Ben Arfa (R.Taylor 73), Gutierrez, Ba, Tiote.
Unused Subs: Gosling, Best, Shola Ameobi, Elliot