It wasn’t exactly the kind of performance that’s going to get you in the first few games on Match of the Day — especially considering the high number of goals scored in the Premier League today — but it was Latics’ first home points of the season, and that’s all that matters.
You can grit it out for ninety minutes away from home, give your all defensively but still concede the killer goal in the final minute to come away with nothing. This was nothing like the Everton game, though. Whereas the Latics goal was pretty much pummelled for ninety minutes that afternoon, things were much more even today. Martinez predicted an open game, and so it proved to be.
It wasn’t glamorous, but in the end it got the job done. Roberto had tweaked the starting line-up from the aforementioned Everton game, with Paul Scharner consigned to the bench, and a now fully-fit Chris Kirkland returning from injury. The latter had a bit of work to do, but managed to repel all shots — including a potentially dangerous deflection which he managed to tip round his left post — and retain his clean sheet.
But Robert Green was forced into making a couple of saves as well. Koumas looked busy as ever, and Diame put in some hard yards in the midfield area, earning him a Man of the Match award from the game’s sponsors.
Wigan probably edged proceedings, but West Ham weren’t short of their own chances, some of them pretty close. Referee Alan Wiley let things flow, and applied an element of sensibility to the game, refraining from reaching for his cards as much as possible. As a result, Latics were able to pass the ball around in spells and made the breakthrough in the 56th minute through a Hugo Rodallega follow-up.
After that goal, West Ham came at the Wigan goalmouth strong, new boy Diamanti sailing a free kick just wide and clipping the outside of the post in the last ten minutes. But Latics managed to hold on and secure their first win at home this season.
I probably don’t need to express how important these three points are, considering the remaining fixtures coming up this month. Arsenal away will be extremely tough, and Chelsea at home probably even more so.
Roberto is still settling in, and we need to give it some time: this was only his fifth Premier League match. Six points from five games? Not an utter disaster, considering the changes that have taken place over the past six months. In fact, pretty much the contrary. Every game will be a learning exercise, and this relatively inexperienced Premier League side will get better as the season progresses. Don’t lose the faith.