Wigan Athletic 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2: Davids' determination drives selfless Spurs spirit

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The Independent Online

Things are slowly changing at White Hart Lane. Since when did Tottenham Hotspur so relish the challenge of playing away from home against the likes of Wigan Athletic? It was never easy on Saturday and Spurs barely did enough to merit their first win in five games. But in a way this victory was more impressive than a 3-0 canter would have been.

Mido apart - the Egyptian striker was like the ghost of Spurs past in his apparent reluctance to impose himself - everything Spurs did was ego-free.

Ledley King and his young sidekick Michael Dawson were superb in central defence. They subdued the fleet-footed Wigan forwards who have proved such a threat at Premiership level.

"They were rocks today," said Martin Jol, the Tottenham manager. "If you're playing against teams like Wigan and Bolton, who play a lot of balls into the box and try to get behind you, then you need big defenders. We've conceded 10 goals now in 14 games so they're doing well.

"[Dawson] did a very big job and it's important for the team. He's 21 and is developing his personality. If Michael can do that verbally then he will be a big player."

In front of them Edgar Davids was unselfish - or at least he was until he burst from the halfway line in the 76th minute to score his first goal in English football.

"I thought maybe in the mentality stakes we could do a bit better, on the pitch and in the dressing-room, and he [Davids] has that," Jol said. "After every game he praises them or criticises them and then leaves the dressing-room and leaves them alone.

"He's a different player to Roy Keane. [Keane's] a winner, he wants to prove something to everybody but Edgar Davids doesn't have to do that because maybe he's the biggest player in England if you think about his silverware."

"For me it is normal to be the leader," said Davids. "I have played in teams throughout my career and almost always have been given that role. The centre-backs did very well. It is always good when you have people at the back that you can count on - it means a lot less worry for our midfielders."

Spurs were helped on their way by Arjan de Zeeuw's mistake that allowed Robbie Keane, again favoured over Jermain Defoe, to open the scoring. That forced Wigan to commit extra men forward and when Stephane Henchoz was caught in possession on the halfway line, Spurs scored the decisive second.

There was little between the teams. Notwithstanding the fact that Wigan's next three games, all away, are against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United, they showed enough to suggest they will continue to pick up points throughout the season.

Even with a minute remaining they were still coming forward, resulting in Lee McCulloch's tap-in after Henri Camara had forced Paul Robinson into his only save of the afternoon.

"We had no points after two games, then the players have done unbelievably well to get 25 points from nine games, and then we've got no points out of the last two games," said Paul Jewell, Wigan's manager. "All that will happen now is we'll go another nine games unbeaten, I would guess."

Goals: Keane (8) 0-1; Davids (76) 0-2; McCulloch (89) 1-2.

Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Pollitt; Chimbonda, Henchoz, De Zeeuw, Baines; Bullard, Kavanagh, Francis (Connolly, 67), McCulloch; Roberts, Camara. Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Taylor, Jackson, Mahon.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, King, Lee; Jenas, Carrick, Davids, Tainio; Keane, Mido. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Kelly, Brown, Defoe, Lennon.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Tottenham Hotspur Davids, Stalteri.

Man of the match: King.

Attendance: 22,611.

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