Many people had Wigan dead and buried after they opened the season with a 4-0 loss to Blackpool and a 6-0 shellacking by Chelsea, but I was confident in my preseason prediction that they would finish somewhere between 13th and 16th, as long as they kept their best players and dropped goalkeeper Chris Kirkland for on loan Bolton stopper Ali Al-Habsi (pictured, right).
Well, they kept their best players, Al-Habsi came in against Tottenham, where he played an absolute blinder and led them to an epic 1-0 victory, and today the Latics played a huge match at home against fellow lower table club Wolves. It is too early in the season to panic, but it is this sort of match, at home against a relegation struggler, that teams look back on and regret not getting three points from in May.
I predicted Wolverhampton would go down, probably by March, and I stand by that. The few quality players they have already have been relegated at other clubs in their careers, and they are probably better-suited to the Championship anyway. When Wolves were down 1-0 today, they brought on two attackers in the 81st minute. One was Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who has always been good at lower levels, but just can't cut it in the Premier League, and the other was Marcus Bent, who I don't believe has ever had a double digit goal scoring season at any level.
I commend Mick McCarthy for making the positive substitutions and trying to get something out of the game, but Wolves are too weak defensively to have more than a few attacking players on the field, and Hugo Rodellega promptly scored a second goal to guarantee Wigan an important victory.