It is now officially British summertime, even though it certainly doesn’t feel like it with the bitter chill in the air, and the occasional snow showers more accustomed to early January than late March. However, as the spring season arrives, one of the most familiar sights is Wigan Athletic’s run of form that means they stay afloat in the Premier League.
The Latics achieved back-to-back victories for only the second time in the Premier League this season on Easter Saturday, as they beat Norwich City 1-0 at the DW Stadium. They shutout the opposition at home for the first time in 17 games, and moved out of the bottom three on Saturday, which was maintained by Aston Villa’s home defeat to Liverpool on Easter Sunday.
The victory over Norwich was a crucial one for Wigan to build on the momentum from the slightly fortuitous victory over Newcastle a fortnight ago. The game wasn’t pretty, not helped by the lack of threat from the visitors. The Canaries didn’t achieve a single shot on target in the 90 minutes, as their poor 2013 run stretched to just a solitary win in 14 outings.
Wigan lacked energy in pushing forward for the winner, but always looked more capable than their opponents. Eventually, the critical breakthrough was made 10 minutes from the end, as Arouna Kone managed to drill a shot past Norwich third choice goalkeeper Lee Camp.
There is no doubt that the former Nottingham Forest stopper should have done better with Kone’s effort, but if you don’t try you won’t succeed and the Ivorian could be the vital ingredient in the run-in for Roberto Martinez.
The 29-year-old has travelled around Europe frequently since he first started taking attention for his striking prowess at Roda JC in the Dutch league. He carried on his scoring form with PSV Eindhoven, but he flopped badly at Sevilla and failed to shine in a loan spell with Hannover 96.
15 goals last season in a solid Levante side restored his reputation, and encouraged Martinez and Dave Whelan to part with £3.5m to bring him to Lancashire. Nine goals in 25 league games is a healthy return, and he has been almost unstoppable since returning from the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast in February.
Kone isn’t a natural goalscorer, who will guarantee you a goal a game like a Suarez, van Persie or Aguero figure, but he works hard for the cause, and if the support is provided to him from the likes of Jordi Gomez, Jean Beausejour and Callum McManaman, then the threat is present.
Wigan won seven out of their last nine matches last season to get out of trouble, and the results on Saturday dragged the likes of Newcastle, Norwich and Stoke into a real relegation scrap.
After some unwelcome headlines following the McManaman tackle on Massadio Haidara a fortnight ago, the Latics returned to what they do best – winning when needed in springtime.
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