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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
And so ends a miserable weekend for the more prosperous end of the Premier League. Wigan's narrow victory over a lacklustre Everton at the JJB Stadium meant that, along with every member of the big four failing to score, every team in the top ten failed to win. The victory drags Steve Bruce's side out of the relegation zone and brings a curtain down on Everton's impressive unbeaten run.

David Moyes' side had responded to a poor start to the season by racking up five games without defeat, but they were strangely subdued on a cold night in Lancashire. Louis Saha caused a couple of problems for the Wigan defence, but his endeavour wasn't matched by his team-mates. Marouane Fellaini, the multi-million pound Belgian midfielder, was particularly awful. The frizzy-haired giant lumbered about all over the pitch, squandering possession, clumsily fouling his opponents and never won the amount of headers that someone of his stature should. After a bright start to the game, in the end Moyes had Tim Howard to thank for keeping the margin of defeat to a respectable level.

Wigan may be missing their Egyptian marvel Amr Zaki but, after an anonymous display by Olivier Kapo, they were able to fill the void up front with Henri Camara. The quicksilver Senegalese striker was one of the brightest stars in Wigan's first season in the top flight, but he's fallen on hard times of late. After a wasted year on loan with the West Ham substitutes bench, he hadn't scored since December 2006, so you can imagine his relief when he slid in on Antonio Valencia's pass to open the scoring just moments after coming on. Not bad for someone who had been so out of sorts that his manager didn't even realise he had him on the books.

"He went out on loan before I came," said Bruce afterwards. "To be honest I didn’t realise he was still at the club until I was sitting on a sun-bed and somebody rang me to say that Camara had another year."

Bruce would never make the same mistake with midfielder Lee Cattermole. The youngster signed in the summer from Middlesbrough and is putting in some unforgettable performances already.

"He's done great for us," beamed Bruce. "He's arguably been our best performer this season on a consistent basis. I forget that he's only 20."

Everton could have done with someone with the energy and tenacity of Cattermole and David Moyes was justifiably disappointed with the lack of urgency in his players. The Merseysiders remain in a respectable position in the league but, on this evidence, they are light years behind the elite. There just doesn't seem to be enough genuine class or application in the side to make the jump up a level. Like Fellaini, Yakubu was a big-money signing, but you could have got change out of a twenty pound note for the pair of them here. Everton's quest for Champions League football seems never-ending sometimes, but with performances like this, it's no wonder. On a bad weekend for the big clubs, their frustration at dropping points won't be any more bearable.



ELECTRIC - Antonio Valencia is looking really good this season. Not so good that I believe those rumours about Manchester United, but more than good enough for Steve Bruce to be happy.

OUT OF SHAPE - I'm always a little concerned by a professional athlete with a double chin, but when you match that with a bum as big as two badly parked VW Beetles, you know there's a problem. Yakubu needs to switch to salads.

SAFE HANDS - Tim Howard couldn't do much about Henri Camara's winner, but his save from Paul Scharner was so good it was almost cheating. The American seemed to know exactly where the ball was going and jutted out a hand to swat the ball away.

PUNTERS RANT - There was nothing controversial about this game, there wasn't even a booking. Besides, if you're mad enough to bet on a game between these two teams, you have to save your rants for yourself.

MAN OF THE MATCH - It's a tight decision between Antonio Valencia, who was always looking to attack, and Lee Cattermole who matched dogged defending with one moment of genius that deserved a goal. However, I've always got a soft spot for a trier, so Cattermole it is.

MATCH STATS
Crowd: 18,344
Yellow cards: None
Red cards: None
Wigan:
Chris Kirkland 7, Ryan Taylor 7, Titus Bramble 7, Paul Scharner 7, Luis Figueroa 7, Antonio Valencia 8, Michael Brown 7, Wilson Palacios 6, Lee Cattermole 8, Olivier Kapo 5 (Henri Camara 7, 46th), Emile Heskey 7
Everton:
Tim Howard 8, Phil Neville 6 (Leighton Baines 6, 85th), Joseph Yobo 6, Phil Jagielka 7, Joleon Lescott 6, Tim Cahill 6, Marouane Fellaini 5, Mikel Arteta 5, Leon Osman 5, Louis Saha 7(Victor Anichebe 6, 65th) Yakubu 5
 
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