Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Tottenham 3 Wigan 1

Even before first-half goals from Bale and Modric started thudding into their net, Wigan Athletic’s frustrations at this game being played on transfer deadline day had been understandable.

Roberto Martinez clearly felt that his best striker Hugo Rodallega, had been too unsettled by all the transfer speculation to start, so was left with his thoughts on the bench.

The Premier League should have moved the games to this evening. Spurs, too, had their distractions.

Roman Pavlyuchenko was absent, locked in discussions with Lokomotiv Moscow and Anzhi, although those hardy Russians leave their winter window open longer.

Tottenham were also working to bring in Louis Saha from Everton. Steven Pienaar was present, taking up his place on the bench, although Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon were absent with hamstring injuries.

Lennon’s place on the right was taken by Niko Kranjcar, who was soon wandering inside, linking with Modric and Rafael van der Vaart,

leaving the right-sided raiding to Kyle Walker, an invitation he readily accepted. Wigan’s 3-5-2 system was immediately exposed down the flanks.

Their wing-backs, Ronnie Stam and the left-sided, debut-making Jean Beausejour, were so vulnerable to Spurs wide men.

Walker charged into space. Gareth Bale and Benoît Assou-Ekotto dominated the left. Wigan looked increasingly doomed.

Modric was everywhere, creating and scoring. From one Modric corner, Younes Kaboul rose above the ragged ramparts of Wigan’s defence to head goalwards.

Ali Al Habsi, experiencing yet another draining night, saved well.

Wigan’s keeper had to be on his toes all evening because his team simply could not keep the ball. Modric, all action, darted back to nick the ball off Franco Di Santo. When Wigan did conjure up a move, Brad Friedel cut out the danger from Stam’s cross before the sliding Di Santo could reach it.

The ball was mainly in Spurs’ sway. Kranjcar glided into the box but over-elaborated and Wigan’s many defenders managed to form a barricade of sorts. Modric shot over. Then Emmanuel Adebayor exchanged passes with Walker but headed over.

Spurs’ control was soon turned into something tangible, into a lovely goal just before the half-hour mark. Modric was inevitably at the heart of it, lifting in a ball that Bale controlled deftly on his chest and then directed firmly past Al Habsi.

It was a sweet goal, a blend of vision, timing and technical expertise. And defensive incompetence.

Despite Wigan having so many defenders, Bale still had the time and space to score.

One quickly became two. Even though Van der Vaart had hobbled off, seeming to have hurt his calf, Spurs simply stepped up a gear. Good work by Assou-Ekotto on the left saw the ball arrive at the clever feet of Modric. The nimble little Croatian turned and sent the ball racing past Al Habsi.

Wigan demonstrated slightly more fight after the break. Slightly.

Spurs remained in charge. Bale was again impressing, clipping in a cross with his right foot that Adebayor headed over. No matter. Bale went himself the next time.

Faced by Stam after the hour-mark, Bale lost the Wigan wing-back with a twitch of the hips and drilled the ball low and hard past Al Habsi.

Nothing was going Wigan’s way. Assou-Ekotto thudded into a challenge on Di Santo, poleaxing the striker, who was furious about the tackle.

He eventually hobbled away, rolling his sock down to reveal a nasty cut. Ice was immediately applied to reduce the swelling.

The wound in Wigan’s season runs even deeper. Martinez’s men attempted a mission improbable late on. James McArthur had already scored for Scotland but not for Wigan until here. Victor Moses did well, creating the opportunity for McArthur let fly, his shot deflecting off Scott Parker and looping in over Friedel.

Spurs had become lax, much to the frustration of their fans, who were furious that Stam was allowed the room to get down the right and cross.

Spurs responded. Bale, inevitably, accelerated forward, bringing a sprawling save from Al Habsi.

Kranjcar was quickest to the loose ball, turning it back for the onrushing Parker, whose shot whistled wide.

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