Premier League: Tottenham 0 Wigan 1
By Football News
Tottenham Hotspur's home woes continued as Wigan Athletic grabbed their second 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane in three years.
Wigan scored the only goal of the game through Ben Watson after Brad Friedel's weak punch landed at his feet, enabling him to tuck the ball past the American.
The loss incensed the home support, and is sure to increase calls for Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas to replace his ageing goalkeeper with Frenchman Hugo Lloris.
Villas-Boas named an unchanged line-up from the side that beat Southampton in their last Premier League fixture, with Lloris returned to the bench and Emmanuel Adebayor left in limbo, yet to make a first start under the Portuguese manager
Roberto Martinez made eight changes to the team that lost to Bradford in the League Cup on Wednesday, restoring the starting XI that beat West Ham last weekend, barring the enforced inclusion of Watson for the injured James McArthur.
Both sides were looking to bounce back from mid-week Capital One Cup exits, but it was Tottenham who started the brighter as Clint Dempsey raced through on goal, smashing his shot into the side-netting.
Both sides pressed high, disturbing the other's ability to build from the back, resulting in scrappy opening exchanges, though it was the home side, through Tom Huddlestone especially, who began to exert greater control.
Tottenham were dealt a blow in the 22nd minute, when Sandro was forced out of the game through injury, to be replaced by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Wigan sensed weakness immediately, with Shaun Maloney exploiting Spurs' lack of mobility in midfield.
Drifting inside, the Scottish playmaker set up Arouna Kone, who should have put the Latics ahead, before latching onto Franco Di Santo's through-ball and firing his shot straight at an onrushing Friedel.
Both sides started the second 45 minutes with more purpose, Dempsey testing Ali Al-Habsi, but it was Wigan who ended the deadlock.
Maloney's corner fell on top of Friedel and the American weakly patted the ball towards the penalty spot, where a waiting Watson struck his shot first time toward goal.
The veteran keeper looked to have scrambled across his line and clawed the ball away, but it was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Villas-Boas responded by introducing Adebayor in place of an isolated and ineffective Jermain Defoe and, encouraged vigorously by the home crowd, Spurs began to attack with greater intent.
Tottenham went more direct, switching Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale, launching balls into the box toward Adebayor and Dempsey, but succeeded only in playing to the strengths of Wigan and centreback Gary Caldwell especially.
Spurs' half-hearted onslaught was to no avail, and they rarely tested Al-Habsi, barring several speculative efforts from outside the box.
Back-to-back wins propel Wigan up the table, while Spurs' home form will continue to worry Villas-Boas, not to mention their supporters.