Everton 3-1 Wigan – Jagielka, Vellios and Drenthe overturn di Santo opener

Goodison Park, Liverpool
Jagielka 33, Vellios 84, Drenthe 90+8 – di Santo 31

Everton recorded a first home Premier League win of the season with a 3-1 victory over Wigan Athletic. Goals from Phil Jagielka, Apostolos Vellios and Royston Drenthe cancelled out Franco di Santo’s first-half opener for Roberto Martinez’s side.

David Moyes named the same XI that started against Aston Villa a week earlier, with fit-again Louis Saha not even named on the substitutes’ bench, which reportedly caused the Frenchman to leave Everton’s training complex in a huff and vent his frustration on Twitter. Wigan included on-loan Chelsea full-back Patrick van Aanholt and James McCarthy in place of Emmerson Boyce and Mohamed Diame.

Martinez’s Iberian influence is clear to see over the Latics’ play. Ben Watson is the Xavi Hernandez stand-in, the central midfielder who drops deep to receive the ball from the goalkeeper or centre-backs and looks to initiate attacks from there. Watson was, however, so deep that he looked at times like an old-fashioned sweeper, and the lack of movement in front of him meant the ball was passed between Watson, the Wigan defenders and Ali Al-Habsi in the Latics goal before being scrambled aimlessly away under pressure from Tim Cahill and Leon Osman. The intention to play like Barcelona was there, if not the execution.

With Cahill and Osman continuing as Everton’s auxiliary strike force the Toffees were again a hard-working outfit, full of interchanges and lay-offs to onrushing teammates, at least in the first-half. In a trajectory similar to that of the Aston Villa draw Everton started brightly and playing at a fast tempo, before failing to establish a lead and conceding possession and territory to their opponents. Until di Santo put Wigan in front after 31 minutes the Latics had hardly been in the game, and although Jagielka equalised two minutes later, Wigan were much more competitive up to the half-time whistle and then dominant for much of the second-half even without really troubling Tim Howard.

Even with Wigan’s Spanish influence they were not afraid to mix up their style, either looking long diagonally for the physicality of Victor Moses against former Wigan defender Leighton Baines, or straight through the middle towards the sheer height of di Santo. Yet for the period after half-time and until Vellios gave Everton the advantage, it was the Toffees who resorted more to such long-ball tactics, hitting too many hopeful and ultimately hopeless clearances in the general vicinity of their forward players. It should be noted by Moyes that Vellios’ goal came not from a route one punt but a more considered Tony Hibbert cross from a good position on the right flank.

The clinching goal, Drenthe’s cool effort deep into injury time, did come from a basic Howard goal kick and Denis Stracqualursi flick, which the Dutch winger reacted to quickest. By then, the eighth minute of added time after a Stracqualursi tackle left Hugo Rodallega in a heap to be stretchered off and possibly missing for months, according to Martinez, Everton were simply trying to retain a precious three points with matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs to come in the next six weeks. Wigan, meanwhile, can be encouraged by their performance if not the result.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman (Vellios 66), Rodwell, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov (58); Osman; Cahill (Stracqualursi 83)

Wigan Athletic (4-2-3-1): Al-Habsi; Lopez, Caldwell, Figueroa, van Aanholt; Watson, McCarthy; Moses, Gomez (Jones 71), Rodallega (Maloney 90+2); di Santo

Did you know… Each of di Santo’s three goals for Wigan this season have come via deflections.

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