James McCarthy battles with Guillermo Molins (Credit: Bernard Platt)
They may have a gap in their competitive calendar for a couple of weeks, but Latics have been keeping busy with a training camp in La Manga and a low key friendly with Swedish champions Malmo FF back home in Wigan this weekend. Though Latics dominated the first half, the visitors ran out 3-1 victors with goals from Wilton Figueiredo, Jimmy Durmaz and Daniel Larsson. Wigan’s goal came via Guillermo Molins, who inadvertently turned the ball into his own net late on, but the damage was already done by the 67th minute.
In the second half Wigan changed from their more regular line-up and lost command. Malmo ruled the game and the result was written to 1-3 after a magnificent Molins own goal. – Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet
Roberto Martinez used this opportunity to experiment with a few different lineups, including a rather intriguing 4-3-3 formation which, according to Malmo-based newspaper Sydsvenskan, resulted in some ‘tough English football’. Although that very same media outlet reported Wigan as fielding “all their regular players”, we can only ascertain from the limited Internet coverage available –the game was played behind closed doors without the knowledge of local media or supporters– that Victor Moses, James McCarthy, Conor Sammon, Steven Caldwell, James McArthur and Jordi Gomez figured for certain. Hugo Rodallega, our main source of goals this season, did not feature at all, leading one to think that our attacking line would most likely have comprised of Conor Sammon and/or Franco Di Santo as Martinez looked to give the majority of his first team a run out.
The first half saw Wigan dominate possession and earn four corners as they looked to launch their attacks down the wings –not really much of a difference there then– but did not trouble the Malmo goalmouth. Again, sounds all too familiar. Wilton Figueiredo struck with his left boot from just outside the area minutes before half time, and from then onwards the Sky Blues took over as Wigan made five changes, but with experimentation the name of the game this was always likely to be the case. Jimmy Durmaz made it 2-0 on the hour mark and Daniel Larsson put the result beyond doubt, following up a strike that rebounded off the Latics keeper (Pollitt? Kirkland?) just seven minutes later.
Though it is never nice to lose, I don’t think we ought to read too much into this contest, which presumably saw Latics tinkering with different lineups and formations in preparation for the tough string of fixtures to come in the next couple of months. It would be silly to write off our Premier League survival chances on the evidence of one friendly with not a great deal riding on it save for a place on the bench against Birmingham.
Nevertheless, the Swedish media is taking this opportunity to big up their domestic league no end. Malmo’s Ghanaian-born midfielder Jeffrey Aubynn reckons the gap between the Swedish and English leagues to be ‘not as big as many believe’, but when asked how Malmo would fare in the high rolling, fast paced Premier League, he stated that he dared not answer.
Of course, we had it rough, for it requires wider squad and thicker wallet [To play in the Premier League]. But over two games, we will be able to be involved in the war against teams like Wigan. — Jeffrey Aubynn, via Aftonbladet
Update 15 March: Official Latics site briefly talks about the match