Wednesday 13 December 2017

Wigan complete Villa's black Christmas

Aston Villa 0
Wigan 3

Stuart James

Randy Lerner picked a bad day to make a rare visit to Villa Park. Reeling from humiliating defeats against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa endured further embarrassment here after being comprehensively beaten by a Wigan side that climbed out of the relegation zone and pushed their beleaguered opponents deeper into trouble.

Villa have collected only six wins and 33 points from 39 games in the calendar year, which is relegation football. Alex McLeish, who was sacked at the end of last season, has his fingerprints on that record but Paul Lambert must take his share of the blame. Lambert had plenty of goodwill to fall back on when he replaced McLeish as manager in the summer but the backing of the Villa supporters is not unconditional, and this will be remembered as the day when patience snapped.

Some fans headed for the exits with 34 minutes remaining, after Arouna Kone twisted the knife and scored Wigan's third goal on a hugely satisfying afternoon for Roberto Martinez and his players. Those who stayed until the final whistle made their feelings known on the back of another abject performance, as boos reverberated around the stadium.

This was a third defeat in the space of seven days during which a staggering 15 goals have been conceded, exposing the brittle confidence in a callow team desperately in need of some leadership and experience. It is difficult to know where to start with the areas that need strengthening in this desperately poor Villa side.

They have scored the fewest goals in the Premier League and conceded the most. There are half a dozen players in the treatment room, but it was still alarming to see a Wigan team that had picked up only one point from a possible 18 and won just one of their previous nine games, stroll to victory here.

The writing was on the wall inside the first three minutes when Ivan Ramis marked his first appearance for more than a month with a thumping header from a Jean Beausejour corner. Any hopes of finding a way back into the game were quickly extinguished after the break when Emmerson Boyce doubled Wigan's lead in the 52nd minute, sweeping a low right-footed shot into the far corner.

Two minutes later, Kone, running on to a threaded through-ball from Franco Di Santo, sprinted into the area, brushed aside a weak challenge from Matthew Lowton, rounded Brad Guzan and tapped into the empty net. Kone could have made it 4-0 when he ran through on goal from a long punt upfield from Ali al-Habsi, but the forward's touch was heavy as he tried to take the ball around Guzan for a second time.

By that point, though, the damage was done, Villa had been trounced yet again and Wigan were well on their way to a hugely rewarding win that lifts them above the midlands club on goal difference. "This spell without a win was really harsh after some of our performances," Martinez said. "But we were clinical today in both boxes."


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