Sport Soccer

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Grigg steps up for lead role as 'stages' plan pays dividends

Wigan Athletic’s Will Grigg. Photo: Reuters
Wigan Athletic’s Will Grigg. Photo: Reuters

Jason Burt

It was 4am before Will Grigg, having gone through hundreds of phone messages, finally drifted off to sleep after the "highlight" of his career - scoring the goal that knocked Manchester City out of the English FA Cup.

"In terms of a single game, a single moment, this is probably it," the Wigan Athletic and Northern Ireland striker said.

"I've scored against Premier League teams before, but this is probably the best team in Europe at the minute and I've managed to get the goal that beat them."

Grigg watched the game again when he got home "because it was a blur, especially the goal" and knew that it would take a long time for sleep to come. "I'm usually bad after games but this one especially so," he said.

The striker offered a fascinating insight into Wigan's game-plan to combat Pep Guardiola's side, explaining: "We cut the game into stages."

Grigg added:"We knew in the first 15 minutes we had to stay in the game. It was just a case of 4-5-1, getting the hang of their rotation. It's OK to watch videos of them moving the ball around, but you have to feel it for yourself.


"Between 15 and 30 minutes we felt we could have a spell. We wanted to press them a little bit more than we had been doing. It's easy to say but more difficult to do.

"The way they rotate the ball it's hard to get near them, let alone put a full press on them. We actually changed systems three or four times during the game. You might not have noticed that."

Grigg's goal came in the 79th minute when he seized on a mistake by Kyle Walker.

"I've gambled and managed to get in," he said. "I was then in a footrace with Kyle Walker, which isn't exactly what you want, but I managed to get there first. My first touch took it away from him, which gave me a chance to get my shot off."

Grigg has scored seven goals in the FA Cup this season, having come back from a six-month injury lay-off.

"When I am fit and playing well I am more than a force in this league," he said, with Wigan now looking forward to playing Southampton in the quarter-finals, having added City to the scalps of Bournemouth and West Ham they have taken in the Cup.

Beating City, though, is a whole new level. "They are the best in Europe, and they didn't make many changes," Grigg said. "The calibre of player was unbelievable."

The run has inevitably brought back talk of beating City to win the Cup five years ago.

"You only have to be around the stadium and the training ground to see what the FA Cup means to everyone," Grigg said. "The fans never stop talking about it. It was a day they will never forget."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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