Barclays Premier League
Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City

 

Bosnian international Dzeko (above in red & black) uses his power to rise above the Wigan defender to head in the only goal

 

 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor at the DW Stadium


Leaders Manchester City edged themselves three points clear of second-placed rivals Manchester United with an important away win at rock-bottom of the table Wigan.

Edin Dzeko's 22nd minute header was the difference between the two teams as a dominant City display was rewarded with a first away win in five league matches - since a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers on Bonfire Night - while Wigan remain winless in six matches and two points away from getting themselves out of the drop zone.

Wigan lined up with a flat back-four with Dutchman Ronnie Stam coming in at right-back while, with Mohamed Diame on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Senegal, there was a chance in the team for the young Scottish international James McArthur - making only a fourth Premier League start of the season.

Albert Crusat started after coming off during the 4-1 loss to Sunderland nearly a fortnight ago with a back injury. Hugo Rodallega kept his place in the attack at the expense of Conor Sammon.

Manchester City had playmaker David Silva fit to return to the starting eleven after sitting out the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final - the 1-0 loss against Liverpool - while Mario Balotelli, withdrawn in the first half of that match with a recurrence of an ankle injury, and Micah Richards, suffering from hamstring trouble, were absent and are rated 50/50 to make Sunday's meeting with Tottenham. Stefan Savic kept his place alongside Joleon Lescott in central defence with skipper Vincent Kompany still suspended.

The game had a hectic beginning with Manchester City creating an opportunity within twelve seconds as a fizzed Gael Clichy cross was slightly too high for the leaping Edin Dzeko.

At the other end, during the home side's first spell in the City half, Victor Moses caused one or two problems for the City defenders after skinning Zabaleta, taking over armband duties on his 27th birthday, on the right and it caused a bit of panic for Joe Hart who flapped at it, falling to Jordi Gomez who appeared to have been inadvertently bundled over by Gareth Barry rather clumsily inside two minutes.

However referee Martin Atkinson, close on the scene, spread his arms to indicate he wasn't about to give a penalty. Play went on with McCarthy's shot deflected behind for a corner off James Milner - something for the Wigan fans to get excited about.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Wigan are now the lowest scorers in all four divisions of English football this season with just 18 goals in 21 Premier League games so far.


Fifteen points from twenty matches is the lowest total that Wigan have ever had at this stage in their previous seven seasons in the Premier League while their 18 goals so far this season is the lowest across all four divisions of English football.

And they showed little signs of adding to both of those tallies against a City side determined to put behind them their recent blip - which has seen them lose two consecutive cup matches and win only one of their last five Premier League matches - the 3-0 win over Liverpool at the turn of the calendar year.

There was a decent chance for Stefan Savic, making only a second Premier League start - the other in the last match Manchester City won on the road in the league in November, up from the back for James Milner's corner in the first ten minutes of the game with no Wigan players getting to him quickly but his header flashed over the crossbar.

Wigan, embarrassed by a 2-1 loss to League Two Swindon which exited them from the FA Cup last week, knew that a victory would take them out of the relegation zone and had lost only once on this ground to Mancini's side in the past.

Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure were on target in a 2-0 win for the Blues last October but both scorers were on that occasion were missing, one frozen out and the other on international duty.

The goal that the nouveau riche City deserved came after 22 minutes when Antolin Alcaraz conceded a soft free-kick on the left hand side with Dzeko going nowhere - the 29 year old Paraguayan-born defender shoved him the back as the striker took the contact and went to ground. 

From Silva's pinpoint delivery, Dzeko got above a line of Wigan defenders, who had no idea who was marking, and the powerful Bosnian forward - without a goal in twelve matches - headed in his eleventh Premier League goal of the season as Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi couldn't get close enough to it even at full extension. It was the 42nd goal leaked by the Latics already this term.

An effort on target was a start from Wigan with a decent James McArthur shot giving something for Joe Hart to do between the sticks for Manchester City for just about the first time in the game.

The ball bounced once just infront of the England number one, however he got down low to keep it out and hold with Rodallega lurking ready to pounce on scraps.

For the first time in the game, Silva had found a hole between the defence and midfield of the opponents which is where he does his best work and he went for goal from the edge of the box with a central shot, blocked tremendously by Gary Caldwell and Figueroa smacked the loose ball clear.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Manchester City have now won the last five consecutive meetings with Wigan in the Premier League without conceding a goal.


A poor cross by Alcaraz close to half-time was easily stopped by Gareth Barry, who immediately got City on the counter attack with Silva leading the charge into the Wigan half at blistering speed.

The Spaniard found Aguero in space, who then took it half a yard infront of him to see off Figueroa. His low effort across the goal was well stopped by Al-Habsi and gathered before any City player could follow up.

Despite their poor home record, the hosts had already drawn with Liverpool and Chelsea at the DW Stadium this season and they started the second period brightly, but only Al Habsi will know how he prevented City doubling their lead soon after the break.

The Oman keeper made a superb double stop to deny Dzeko, then Silva, and when Aguero dribbled his way into the six-yard box both the Argentine and Dzeko failed to make proper contact and the chance was spurned.

While Wigan were hanging on they always posed a threat, with Jordi Gomez impressive in midfield. And they were a toe's width from equalising when Rodallega put McCarthy through, his left-footed shot being well thwarted by England keeper Hart, who ensured his ninth Premier League clean sheet of the campaign.

Substitutes Ben Watson and Franco di Santo added some extra zeal to Wigan's play, although City had the better chances towards the end, Dzeko and Aguero both failing to take advantage of good opportunities. 

City fans were spitting mad when Figueroa only received a yellow card when, with Aguero on his shoulder, he handled the ball on the halfway line late on to stop another City counter-attack.

Referee Atkinson, in charge of the meeting between the two sides earlier in the season - City's routine 3-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium in September, deemed a booking to be sufficient on a freezing night in Lancashire.

The cheap free-kick which allowed Dzeko to head home proved very costly to Martinez's Wigan in the end as their poor home form, with only one win all season in the Premier League - a 2-0 victory over QPR back in August, is the joint worst along with Mark Hughes's Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers. 

There were even one or two boos ring around the stadium - once again not to full capacity - as the Latics fans became impatient. City ended a run of form which has seen performances drop and that will be a timely boost to confidence ahead of a match dubbed as a title decider at the Etihad Stadium against Tottenham Hotspur this coming Sunday afternoon.



Follow our Chief Football Editor Adam Higgins on Twitter

 

 

ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site - Chief Football Editor

"Wigan gave it a good go but just lacked that quality or piece of magic that needed to break up a really tight game that wasn't laden with many goalscoring chances. It wasn't a great spectacle being a very tight game. Manchester City were happy just to be patient and not rush for lots of goals while Wigan stayed firm and soaked up pressure for long spells but were always in the game. Roberto Martinez will be very pleased with what he saw from his team while for Roberto Mancini- he will be content with the fact they have got through the match with three points regardless of the performance and how difficult they made the match for themselves. They have been a little rocky on the road in recent weeks so to get their away form back on track and stay three points ahead at the top is all that matters for City. Both goalkeepers had solid games and we always say that the cheap free-kicks are the ones which are the most costly and boy was that cliche apparent here."





Monday 16th January 2012

Barclays Premier League

The DW Stadium (Wigan, Lancashire)

 

Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City                                KO 8pm            Live on Sky Sports 1/HD1           (HT 0-1)

                          Dzeko 22

 

Wigan Athletic: (4-4-1-1)  26 Al-Habsi - 7/10, 23 Stam - 6/10, 3 Alcaraz - 4/10, 5 Caldwell (C) - 6/10, 31 Figueroa - 7/10, 7 Crusat - 6/10 (Di Santo 68 - 5/10), 16 McArthur - 5/10 (Watson 68 - 3/10), 4 McCarthy - 7/10, 14 Jordi Gomez - 7/10 (McManaman 81 - 3/10), 11 Moses - 7/10, 20 Rodallega - 6/10.

Subs not used:  21 Pollitt (GK), 2 Gohouri, 17 Boyce, 18 Sammon

Booked:      McArthur (61), McCarthy (78), Figueroa (88)

 

Manchester City: (4-4-2)  1 Hart - 8/10, 5 Zabaleta (C) - 7/10, 6 Lescott - 5/10, 15 Savic - 7/10, 22 Clichy - 8/10, 7 Milner - 7/10, 18 Barry - 7/10, 19 Nasri - 5/10 (De Jong 74 - 4/10), 21 Silva - 7/10 (Onuoha 81 - 4/10), 10 Dzeko - 8.5/10, 16 Aguero - 8/10 (Johnson 90+1 - 1/10).

Subs not used:  30 Pantilimon (GK), 13 Kolarov, 44 Rekik, 20 Hargreaves

Booked:      Zabaleta (78), Milner (79), De Jong (80), Milner (88)

 

My Man of the Match:   Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) - Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:  Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic) - Rating 4/10

 

 

Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) - 6/10
Attendance: 16,026

 

 

Match Facts


Possession:
Wigan - 48%                   Manchester City - 52%

Shots: Wigan - 7                       Manchester City - 12

Shots on target: Wigan - 4                    Manchester City - 8

Shots off target: Wigan - 3                    Manchester City - 4

Corners: Wigan - 4                    Manchester City - 5

Fouls: Wigan - 16                 Manchester City - 5

Offside: Wigan - 3                    Manchester City - 5

Assists: Wigan - None                   Manchester City - 1 (Silva)

 

 

MANAGER & PLAYER REACTION:-



Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez

"I've been here long enough to understand that trying to influence the referee is not accepted in the British game. I've been here since 1995 so when a player tries to simulate or to buy a decision from the referee that's not seen as clever, that's seen as cheating. It's different ways to understand the game. In Italy and Spain and France, you try to get decisions from the referee and both teams are allowed to do that. But it's very different from what happens here. We had a good go as we always do- you can never fault our lads for 100% commitment to the cause and the determination and desire they carry to want to get us out of the situation we are in. We have got out of situations like this before so we have the experience, knowledge and certainly the ability of the footballers we have got at this club to get away from the relegation places. It was a good performance from us against a very good Manchester City team. We pushed them all the way, in the final minutes they were a little nervy and we have forced Joe Hart into one really good save. We started off brightly. They just took one chance which is all they needed in the end and we didn't take any of the very few we had and that is the difference and fine line between winning and losing games of football."


Click here for the full post-match interview with Latics boss Roberto Martinez 

 

 


Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

"It is important for us to win the match especially when it is away and it is always difficult to play away in the Premier League. It is even more satifying because we haven't had an away win in three or four games and Wigan are playing really well at the moment. It was good that we saw the game through as Wigan have done well recently at home to Liverpool and they scored late on against Chelsea but also because they play good football and always keep going in games right to the end. We are without some key players at the moment through injury but we don't want this to have an adverse effect on the squad. The players we have here are talented and we have enough depth to cope without one or two of the lads. I'm very happy for Edin (Dzeko) to score after going a few games without a goal. I did that [the waving of an imaginary card] because Rooney did this, but this was normal when there is one chance like today. I am on the bench. It's different from a player who is near the referee. From the bench it's what you think at the moment, but the referee doesn't see you on the bench."


Click here for the full post-match interview with City boss Roberto Mancini

 

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