Match Report: Wigan Athletic show their steel and put West Ham United to the sword

Wigan Athletic 2 West Ham United 1: Latics get their first home win of the season with a well-deserved victory over West Ham

It would have been mentioned quietly to Roberto Martinez this week that a defeat against West Ham would equal Wigan's worst start to a Premier League season. They were well aware of dismal results in front of their home fans – without a victory here since May – and must have been conscious that the calibre of side they have welcomed, and handed points to, at the DW Stadium thus far are ones they needed to start beating.

Only a thumping run of form, defeating the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, prevented what had seemed the inevitable last season. So this result was important not only for their points tally, but for the psyche.

Staying in the Premier League is not reliant on beating the big clubs; survival is built on overcoming teams not too dissimilar. Opportunities had already been missed against Stoke City and Fulham, so three points were vital. Pre-match comments from Wigan's Gary Caldwell's that it was a "must-win" fixture were intriguing. It was a bold move capable of having an adverse effect on the team. In fact it got the desired response, indicating they thrive upon pressure.

"It was a must-win game and that's always difficult to cope with. It brings extra expectations and all of a sudden you want to win and not really know how to do it," Martinez said. "Today was the complete opposite. We were very mature and kept the ball very well. The most pleasing aspect was the way we coped with the attacking threat of West Ham. It was a well-deserved three points and this is the start of our season."

The pressure piled on by their captain coerced a fearless Wigan into not allowing the weight of defeats and relegation chatter to engulf them. Attractive to watch with a fluidity that was not indicative of their league position, they bossed proceedings.

From Jean Beausejour's corner, Ivan Ramis evaded Winston Reid and thundered a volley beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen in a phase of play that highlighted the problems of disorganised man-marking against attackers who possess a greater willingness to meet the ball first. Ramis stole a march, leaving two defenders trailing in his wake – curious for a Hammers side usually so well-drilled at set-pieces. At least, unlike zonally, Reid could be held accountable.

West Ham really struggled, swarmed over by the hosts, and were reduced to hitting Andy Carroll quickly – a ploy Sam Allardyce would not have envisaged when setting up his impressive-looking attacking four. The overriding problem in failing to stamp any sort of authority on the game stemmed from a lack of communication and gumption at the back.

Arouna Kone's loitering role confused George McCartney, who instead of passing him on to his central defenders, followed the striker from full-back. That in turn left Matt Jarvis constantly tracking wing-back Emmerson Boyce, who joyously rampaged down the touchline. It meant that when the ball broke, Jarvis was nowhere to be seen, his own threat nullified, and saw Carroll cut a lonely figure.

Allardyce eventually cottoned on, instructing Jarvis to stay further forward in an attempt to call Boyce's bluff. It worked to an extent, and when they began to play, the visitors briefly looked the real deal. The winger and James Tomkins both went close before James Collins lamely found Ali Al Habsi from close range. But Boyce was unnerved – continuing to bomb forward and, moments after the restart, Wigan sealed the points. Tomkins was out-run by Franco Di Santo, who found James McArthur via Beasejour and Shaun Maloney, and the Scotland midfielder fired in an unstoppable second.

West Ham are trying to play differently, to change perceptions. They were set up to operate in a manner intent on passing and moving, but ended up serving up the grizzly dish supporters of Championship teams endured throughout last season. Carroll's inclusion makes it too easy for them to go from back to front all too quickly.

Allardyce was furious afterwards. "Our technique on the ball was ridiculously poor today. It has been very good in possession which has kept the pressure off us away from home. It was a real blow and a real shock, because I didn't expect that type of performance," he said.

As poor as West Ham were for the majority of proceedings, this was more about the effectiveness of Martinez's exciting brand of football which he loyally sticks with through thin and thinner. They defended well and attacked from all angles, presenting themselves as a team enjoying playing together, composing victory immaculately. Tomkins rattled the crossbar late on, and then scored with a header, but the Irons did not deserve to escape from Lancashire with anything other than defeat.

Wigan's confidence in their own ability despite the previously negative results must be credited to the manager, and the hope is that this acts as a kick-start.

Wigan (3-4-1-2): Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour; Maloney; Di Santo (Watson, 78), Kone

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Jaaskelainen; Tomkins, Collins, Reid, McCartney; Diame (O'Neill, 73), Noble (Cole, 64); Jarvis, Nolan, Benayoun (Maiga, h-t); Carroll

Referee: Jon Moss.

Man of the match: McArthur (Wigan)

Match rating: 6/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent