Match Report: Watson leaves Villas-Boas in desperate need of home improvements

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Wigan Atheltic 1

White Hart Lane

Andre Villas-Boas may have conquered Old Trafford but he is yet to conquer White Hart Lane.

His Tottenham side are still to produce a convincing performance at home and in this, their sixth attempt, they paid for it. Spurs were even slower and flatter than they had been here all season. This time they were bad for the whole 90 minutes. There was no second-half comeback like those which earned wins against Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers. There was barely a single useful chance.

“It was our worst performance of the season so far,” Villas-Boas said, quite rightly. “We needed to be sharper, more aggressive. We couldn’t get our passing right. We kept on doing mistakes.”

The regulars at White Hart Lane are not impressed, and made their feelings known at the final whistle. They had done so earlier, too, when Villas-Boas brought off Jermain Defoe to put on Emmanuel Adebayor.  “They want to win but we want a win as much as them,” Villas-Boas said, before promising that improvement was a priority. “We want to improve our performances at home. Results away have been a little better for us. We’ll try to get the home performances a little bit better.”

Spurs were more than a little off the pace yesterday. Wigan were superior in every aspect of the game, playing brave and progressive football, pressing from the front and well organised at the back. “Today as a team we were very, very strong and very, very difficult to play against,” said their manager, Roberto Martinez. “I don’t think we should take any credit away from Wigan Athletic players.”

With consecutive League wins, Martinez is delighted by his players’ confidence. “It is a question of mentality,” he said. “That is why I am so proud today. To get back-to-back wins this early in the season is a matter of approach. Having that winning mentality, wanting to come to White Hart Lane and get three points. To have that belief and that arrogance to go anywhere and be yourself makes you very, very proud of the team.”

Wigan playing with confidence are a very attractive team. They created far more than Spurs from open play, and should have been 2-0 up at half-time. It started when James McCarthy played in Arouna Koné, who exchanged passes with Sean Maloney and found himself giddily free in the box. Despite his time and space, Koné could only shoot straight at Brad Friedel. 

It soon happened again. This time Franco Di Santo started the move, Koné took it over and it ended with Maloney, with a free shot from the penalty spot, again hit at Friedel. The half-time whistle was a deliverance for the hosts, not the visitors.

“At half-time we knew that we created chances but they were not lucky chances,” Martinez said. “When we got the ball we moved it very, very well. We had very good interplay in the attacking third and created chances.”

Tottenham have started slowly before here this year, needing serious second-half improvements to beat Villa and QPR. Yesterday, there was just more of the same. Spurs did nothing to disrupt Wigan’s superiority and 11 minutes after the re-start, the goal came. Maloney swung in a corner, Friedel failed to deal with it and Ben Watson volleyed over the line.

It was a fair reflection of the game and the crowd knew it. When Defoe was taken off for Adebayor the crowd made their feelings known. Villas-Boas might argue that with Adebayor as a lone striker rather than half of a pair, Spurs built better. Gareth Bale had a shot from distance saved by Ali Al Habsi. Steven Caulker had a header blocked on the line.

But Wigan were more likely to score in the final minutes as Koné led a series of charges on the break and a 2-0 scoreline would not have been unfair.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Walker (Carroll, 78), Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro (Sigurdsson, 23), Huddlestone; Lennon, Dempsey, Bale; Defoe (Adebayor, 57).

Reading (3-4-3): Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McCarthy, Watson, Beausejour; Di Santo (Gomez, 69), Koné, Maloney.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Man of the match: Koné (Wigan)

Match rating: 7/10

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