Away from home in the north west, with the rain pelting down upon a pitch that could be best described as a mud bath; this is not the sort of game that Tottenham normally win.
The aforementioned pitch was like a ploughed field, so little wonder that some of the football played was a little agricultural in nature.
With the ball sticking in the mud, a crisp passing game was never on the cards for either side. Chances were at a premium, with only a couple of speculative long range efforts bothering the keepers, before Defoe’s opener in the 27th minute.
Another example of Gareth Bale’s thrusting runs saw him put the ball across the goal to the not unfamiliar sight of Jermain Defoe in an offside position. What was unfamiliar though, was the fact that we got a bit of luck in front of goal, as the linesman decided to not put up the flag, as Defoe poked home. Such fortune has been at a premium of late, so we were grateful to take advantage of a terrible decision, rather than being on the receiving end.
You do have to feel sorry for Wigan. They’re fighting a relegation battle and they can look back at this game as one in which they might have picked up at least a point, had they not been victim of an errant linesman. Still, never mind, eh?
The goal may have been fortuitous, but we had been the stronger team, even if actual chances had been few and far between. We played out the half with the game under control.
After the break Wigan pushed for an equaliser, as they brought Moses on to the right and shifted from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. This stretched the game somewhat and allowed us to create better chances on the break than they managed to carve out, despite their pressure.
Wigan’s best chance probably came when Gomes spilled a cross, but they failed to capitalise upon it. On the break Defoe continued to threaten and twice forced good saves from Kirkland.
It was a surprise then that it was he and not the ineffectual Crouch, who was chosen to make way for Roman Pavlyuchenko. The crowd had been chanting the Russian’s name throughout the second half and when they finally got to see their man in action, he didn’t disappoint.
It wasn’t just Pav ‘wot won it’ though. Luka Modric had been left out of the team for the physically stronger Kranjcar, but was brought on in the second half to take advantage of tired legs.
The little Croatian did just that. Every time he got the ball, he set off on a run and was immediately causing problems. Before long he had threaded a ball through the Wigan defence that saw Crouch hone in on goal, only for Kirkland to block his uninspired effort. Minutes later Modric hit a well struck volley from the edge of the area, which hit the post before bouncing straight back to Kirkland.
We finally got the second goal when Pavlyuchenko was put through on goal by Modric and stab home. Just before the end, Pav got his second, after his header was saved by Kirkland and he showed real composure to take control of the rebound and place it in the net.
The cameras focused straight on Redknapp, who wasn’t able to pull off a smug ‘I told you so’ look after his well timed substitutions, due to the fact that he’s previously given Pavlyuchenko so few chances to prove himself.
I would be astonished if the Russian didn’t start alongside Defoe on Wednesday. Both looked lively and always likely to score, while Crouch struggled to get into the game.
It’s a shame that we didn’t have a Pavlyuchenko-figure to bring on in central midfield. This was not a game that suited the talents of Tom Huddlestone and with the mud making him even slower than usual, he was pretty lucky not to receive a second booking at a time in the match when going down to 10-men, could have seen Wigan launch a comeback.
Two poor performances aside, everyone else played pretty well in what could have been a difficult match. This was the first time that the side scored 3 goals in a league match since beating Manchester City back in December, so let’s hope that this now opens the floodgates for more goals.
The result put us back in fourth place and though City and Villa have a game in hand, our goal difference is stronger than both. This was a vital win, before the tough challenge to come in the shape of Everton.