Form of Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi defended by Roberto Martinez
Oman international has made some high profile mistakes
Friday 30 November 2012
Ali Al Habsi is one of the best goalkeepers in the Barclays Premier League, according to Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.
The 30-year-old, who signed for the Latics last year following a season-long loan from neighbours Bolton, has made two errors in his last two matches, but Martinez played down any concern over his form.
Al Habsi's blushes were spared against Reading last weekend when Jordi Gomez's last-minute winner took the focus away from the keeper's blunder after the ball bounced off him and into the net to make it 2-2.
The Oman international then failed to deny Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli on Wednesday night after he blocked Gareth Barry's shot from the edge of the area and stopped Balotelli's initial follow-up, but could do nothing with his second strike.
However, Martinez was quick to deflect any criticism away from his keeper.
"I don't think it was an error (against Manchester City)," the Wigan boss said.
"Ali in my eyes is one of the best in this league.
"Sometimes you expect Ali to save the unstoppable and that's very unfair.
"The shot from Gareth Barry was moving away a little bit and he came up with a world class save in the rebound but the unfortunate point is that the ball bounced straight into the striker's path and not the defender's path.
"I don't think that's a mistake at all. That's a little bit of misfortune.
"This new ball is quite tough for goalkeepers. His reaction for the first save was outstanding."
Martinez is confident his first-choice keeper will put any demons behind him for Monday's trip to Newcastle.
"Ali is such a confident player and internally he is a very strong human being," Martinez said.
"I would say his mental strength is his biggest quality.
"As a goalkeeper you need to be able to move on from action to action and he is not affected by that. It's not a confidence issue at all."
Martinez still has a host of injury problems to contend with for the clash at St James' Park despite an extra 48 hours of rest.
The Spaniard rated both defender Gary Caldwell and midfielder David Jones as "50/50" for the match, leaving him with eight players potentially ruled out through injury.
Jones picked up a knock to his calf during Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by Manchester City while Caldwell is recovering from a hamstring problem.
Midfielders Albert Crusat (knee) and Ben Watson (broken leg), winger Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), forward Shaun Maloney (groin) and defenders Antolin Alcaraz (groin) and Ivan Ramis (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo could return against Manchester United - but it won't be like previous reunions
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
Calum Chambers joins Arsenal: New £16m signing put through Arsenal initiation as he sings The Kooks in front of team-mates
Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender
New Liverpool signing Dejan Lovren forced to train with the under-21s after US visa mix-up
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 4 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us