This weekend was one that brought great contrasting emotions to football fans across the land, proving that nothing is impossible in football.
On Saturday we were celebrating the joys of an overdue and unexpected victory, whilst on Sunday, the footballing world was shocked by terrible news involving a footballing legend, Gary Speed.
The footballing community is still in mourning over the apparent suicide of Gary Speed, who with 530 Premier League appearances and 85 Wales caps to his name, was a popular figure in the game and his death was totally unexpected.
It’s times like this that make you realise that in fact, Bill Shankly was wrong, football is much less than life or death.
Football will go on regardless of course, and obviously we can’t bring Gary back, but all we can do collectively is offer our condolences to those that knew and loved him, whilst continuing to love the game in a way which would honour the great man himself.
The overwhelming tributes from friends, former teammates and opponents alike has demonstrated that if Gary knew just how well appreciated he was, maybe he would have thought twice about his problems and instead, turned to those who would support him.
Rest in peace Gary, you’ll never be forgotten.
Previously this weekend, football was at its usual enthralling best with no worries about such a tragedy.
Latics showed that actually, they haven’t forgotten how to win, even if it means getting outplayed at times. Don’t they say that’s a trait of champions?
Contrary to what some might lead you to believe, Wigan aren’t dead and buried just yet.
As a team, we’re improving, the defence managed to hold tight for a whole eight minutes after kick off, that’s three times the length achieved last week.
In a season which has produced an amount of clean sheets even Basil Fawlty would be ashamed of, Sunderland looked easily capable of increasing their lead after the deadlock was broken. Their attack though was handicapped by Nicklas Bendtner, who I will never ever know how he persuaded Arsene Wenger to sign him, maybe he had the same agent which persuaded Jewell to sign Aghahowa?
Despite being second best in the first half, Wigan were given a lifeline with a penalty decision which went their way.
That really is a first isn’t it? Cherish it folks because I don’t think we’ve had a marginal decision go our way since the penalty Jason Roberts won against Sunderland back in August 2005. I can’t think of one since.
The old cliché is that refereeing decisions balance themselves out over time, well after last week’s catastrophe, I think we’re still due about 20 marginal decisions but every little helps.
Going by the same theory, Man United also had their refereeing generosity balanced out slightly after one penalty decision went against them at Old Trafford. Has the world gone mad? These things just never usually happen, next you’ll be telling me Gomez and Di Santo scored at the weekend!
Second thoughts, if memory serves, that might have actually happened. Miracles eh, don’t you just love them?
For the first, Gomez calmly slotted home the penalty late in the first half very coolly. Ben Watson, take note.
As the game entered its latter stages, it appeared it would fizzle out into a draw. With Wigan though, it’s wise to expect the unexpected, especially when injury time’s involved.
This week, believe it or not, we actually scored in the last minute and even managed to get three points. This was an occasion which provided a great excuse to go a bit over the top with the drinks, it might not happen again for a few weeks.
Maynor Figueroa’s long clearance up field was primarily a very defensive move to relieve the attacking pressure Sunderland were posing, yet it turned out to be the best bit of offensive play Wigan have produced since Jason Roberts converted that penalty against Sunderland in 2005 (okay I’m exaggerating).
Franco Di Santo chased down this seemingly lost cause and was rewarded when James McArthur stole the ball off Wes Brown and laid it on a plate for Di Santo to slot home from six yards. I’m not going to lie, considering our luck recently, I fully expected him to fall on his backside and slice the ball over the top.
Reading the scoreline was euphoric, SUNDERLAND 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 2. To quote Gordon Strachan: “I sat in front of teletext for four hours with a bag of crisps and a bottle of coke.” It was that kind of moment.
I think this game could prove the catalyst for Wigan to produce a long run of victories to surge out of the bottom three. That’s easily conceivable considering the following run of fixtures: Arsenal, West Brom, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd.
Liverpool managed to do what everyone other than Fulham has failed to do this season, namely, hold Man City to a draw. Despite a less than eventful game played under the dark cloud of tragedy, City thought they were on their way to another victory when Vincent Kompany ‘shouldered’ home David Silva’s corner.
City were then masters of their own downfall, Joleon Lescott proved he’s still capable of the odd donkey moment with a comical own goal, later, as City were pressing on for the winner, the ever dramatic tale of Mario Balotelli’s season took another twist as he was sent off for a second yellow. 1-1 was the final score.
Meanwhile, Robin Van Persie eventually failed to score in a Premier League game. In news which angered most fantasy football managers, Fulham managed to keep the Dutchman at bay. Thomas Vermaelen had the most eventful day, bagging at both ends in a 1-1 draw, surely he must be given man of the match simply for providing action and the main goal threat of both teams involved?
Goal of the Weekend: Jermaine Defoe’s bags this one for his thumping finish in Spurs’ 3-1 win at West Brom.
Gary Speed of the Week: Gary Speed’s great achievements and tragic death should be recognised by this prestigious award, which I award to Tim Krul for a number of outstanding saves to earn Newcastle a point at Old Trafford.
Gary Neville of the Week: It has to be Brucie I’m afraid, our old pal did not only ourselves a favour, but Steve Kean too by accompanying him towards the back of the sack race.
Quote of the Week: Roberto Martinez: “If we want to be lazy and assess teams by the table, it’s going to give us a lot of false information.” Amen Roberto, I don’t think City are that good either.
Boselli Watch: After hearing I’m a celebrity needed a new non-celeb contestant, Mauro’s agent was on the case to get the misfiring striker in the public eye. Boselli rejected the idea though, claiming it was Wigan’s way of getting him to retrieve the stray balls he’d fired at goal last season which have ended up all the way in Australia.