Latics started off the brighter by taking the game straight to the visitors and it seemed like it would pay dividends as we pushed on the Villa defence. McArthur was having a particularly good start without delivering the final clinical touch.
Beausejour was also up for the fight but after doing lots of hard work on the wing he didn’t get the right response from the sometimes wayward Di Santo and it was a shame, had he took a couple more risks he could have done some real damage.
Al Habsi did have one little scare in the first half though as bent was sent one on one with him, but the Oman number one was well equal to the challenge and saved well at his feet. The nil nil scoreline didn’t really paint the right picture of this very entertaining game, well for Latics and the neutral it was.
There was certainly no difference in quality with the two sides, in fact you would have been hard pressed to say that Wigan were the ones at the bottom of the league and on this performance they will not be there for much longer.
Alex McLeish was getting shouts of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ throughout, I think I commented three years ago that he was way out of his depth in the Premier League and he is proving me right.
Our dominance in the first half should have reaped better rewards but as the stats will show, we didn’t give Shay given any serious problems in the Villa goals in the opening period. The second half would see the introduction of Momo Diame and he showed how much we have missed him in recent weeks.
Prior to his introduction we were starting to run out of ideas as Villa crowded the midfield and time wasted like they were 2-0 up with five minutes to play, they were not creating anything and set out their lot to grind a draw out of it.
We did however begin to break through with McArthur, Figueroa and di Santo all having decent efforts at goal. After the introduction of Rodallega, we looked sure to go in front, but the out of sorts striker yet again couldn’t hit a barn door as he fired straight in to the arms of Given before sending tame efforts wide.
The yellow cards were racking up for Aston Villa as their last ditch tackles became a bit desperate, McCarthy and Gomez had shots blocked by a red raw Bannan in the final ten minutes and Rodallega fired an effort over the bar with the goal begging.
The 7 minutes of injury time added at the end of the half due to Darren Bents ankle ligaments being twisted saw us have two further chances to grab all three points, Di Santo was first, pulling a fine save out of given before the game ended with an Alacaraz header being blocked.
Latics will feel they should have got all three points out of this, and they should, whilst McLeish will have another week of excuses s to why he can’t get what is on paper a top half team, playing for him.
If we give as good a performance against Swansea next week, we will certainly have a decent chance of being out of the relegation zone come next Sunday.