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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Wigan (H)

By Ken Buckley :  05/04/2009 :  Comments (0) :
A comprehensive win for the Blues played out in a most soporific atomosphere considering the value of the points on offer. Both teams having players returning from all parts of the globe seemed to favour the recuperative power of the Blues as Wigan appeared the more sluggish from the start.

For the first 25 minutes we had only the red and blue hairdo' of Scharner and the obvious benefit of Hibbert completing the back four into the unit we need, augmented by some enterprising work from both Osman and Fellaini to actually stay awake. Then, on that 25-minute mark, Fellaini — although being held — poked a ball to Osman who, with an astute angled pass, found Jo; the Brazilian fired across the keeper and found the net. Strangely no raucous celebration but more of being woken by the alarm clock and then rolling over and going back to sleep....

Wigan's response was to try kicking Everton midfielders to gain some control where they had none. First, Melchiot went through Pienaar the Brown found the ankle of Cahill, both Wigan men being booked. Cahill's finger wag toward Brown seemed to suggest the 'Walton kiss' should he persist.

The half continued with the Blues well in control and very little if any 'hoofball' to be seen. The crowd remained mostly mute, could it have been all things Wembley distracting fans? But thankfully not players — well, not Everton players as Wigan players seemed to be in their own world well away from Goodison Park.

Half-time and 1-0 up; could and should have been a more favourable performance yet the chat seemed exclusivly 'Where's your ticket for Wembley for'.

The Blues started the second half with a determination to rouse the faithful from their slumbers and, just a couple of minutes in, the very impressive returning Hibbert found Fellaini with a pin-point cross and the newly restored barnetted one fired home. Still didn't provoke much 'Old Lady' bedlam though and in fact the rest of the game was played out without any help from the 'twelfth man' — on this occasion it wasn't needed.

Some four or five minutes later, Wigan were dead in the water as Osman found Fellaini on the box's edge, he took aim and fired in a shot that had the venom to ensure Kirkland could only parry it into the path of Jo who, on his own from six yards, slotted home — his fifth since joining from City and reinforcing, in my head at least, that he is a different animal in home games to away ones... — Why?

Kirkland's shakiness did move the Park End to emerge from slumber enough to mock him by chanting "England's Number One" and he did his cause greater harm on the hour mark when Osman found Fellaini some 20 yards out, he fired in a shot that once again the hapless Kirkland could only parry into the path of Osman, and again from six yards the ball found the net.

The manager then had the luxury of determining which three players needed resting the most; he chose Cahill, Pienaar and Fellaini and replaced them with Saha, Gosling and Rodwell. In truth he could have replaced them with you me and my aunt Madge for all that Wigan had to offer.

Before the end, the crowds predilection with Wembley was well and truly shown as Saha was kicked by Bramble and went down needing treatment — the gasps and hurried whispers of 'Oh No' overshadowed the 4-0 scoreline.

Thankfully he recovered showing no obvious sign's of distress. Overall a game that made you wonder: Were we that good or Wigan that bad? A bit of both may be near the mark.

Why did Jags have to take a goal kick near the end? — Is Howard ok?

The return of Hibbert completing a very strong back four was encouraging although Baines was a little jaded today — maybe something to do with who we were playing. Cahill brought back the steel to our midfield and combined well with the impressive Neville, and my Man of the Match, Fellaini caused his own brand of mayhem to the Wigan defence.

Both Osman and Pienaar put in good shifts although both still go to ground a little to easily for me. Jags and Lescott both demonstrated their right to an England call up.

Villa next and I hope Wembley can be put away for a week by both players and travelling faithful as three points there and voices may yet be raised to challenge for things higher than we may have thought a couple of weeks ago.

See you there... UP THE BLUES

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