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Aston Villa dropped deeper into the Barclays Premier League relegation battle s they suffered another heavy defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic. The visitors, meanwhile, moved out of the bottom three with a conclusive victory to record their first win in seven matches which highlighted Villa’s loss of form.
Villa, watched by club owner Randy Lerner, never recovered from a disastrous start when Ivan Ramis gave the Latics a morale-boosting lead after only three minutes. Two goals in the space of four minutes early in the second half from Emmerson Boyce and Arouna Kone sealed Villa’s fate as their confidence visibly evaporated.
In the continued absence of such players as Darren Bent, Richard Dunne, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N’Zogbia and Nathan Baker, the options open to under-pressure manager Paul Lambert are very limited as illustrated in this latest defeat.
Just how much Villa are missing the commanding presence of Dunne was highlighted as early as the third minute when Wigan took a shock lead. Villa’s susceptibility to set-pieces was exposed in the third minute after the ball ran out for a corner as Matthew Lowton appeared to handle. Jean Beausejour’s accurate delivery was perfectly placed for the unmarked Spaniard to mark his return after missing six games with a powerful header past Brad Guzan. It was the 13th goal conceded by Guzan and Villa in three games and once again gave the West Midlands club a steep hill to climb.
Buoyed by their opening goal Wigan surged forward with Shaun Maloney firing wide from the edge of the area with a goal at his mercy. Villa battled hard to retrieve the situation but they lacked a cutting edge. Christian Benteke was subdued and it was left to the industrious Andreas Weimann to pressurise Wigan’s defence in which Ramis and skipper Gary Caldwell were rock solid.
Pulling the strings for the visitors was Maloney. The Scotland international formerly played for Villa but was allowed to return north of the border because he was homesick before joining Wigan last year. Benteke finally found a route through Wigan’s defence in the 36th minute with a rasping shot only for the goal to be disallowed with Weimann in an offside position.
After Boyce and Maloney were booked for reckless tackles, Villa’s next best chance of an equaliser fell to Brett Holman two minutes before the break when the Australian grazed the crossbar with an angled shot.
All these efforts in search of an equaliser were to no avail as seven minutes into the second half Wigan consolidated their lead. Boyce raced through despite the attentions of three Villa defenders and took a return pass from Arouna Kone to fire his low shot past Guzan.
In the 56th minute Kone himself got in on the goalscoring as he took a through pass from Franco Di Santo as he sliced his way through Villa’s dithering defence to score from a tight angle despite a challenge from Guzan.
Villa made a triple substitution sending on Karim El Ahmadi, Jordan Bowery and Marc Albrighton for Ireland, Holman and Eric Lichaj. The changes resulted in more attacking play but the damage had been done as Wigan were content to absorb the pressure.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert: "Everyone was positive after the Liverpool win but there is now a negativity after these three defeats. I understand that feeling but I have a belief that Aston Villa will be fine.
“The big disappointment is that there are a lot of experienced players out of the team. Andreas Weimann had to play at the last minute against Wigan despite having a leg injury. Once we get everyone back in January we will have to wait and see what happens.
"We had a decent spell in the first half when we looked like ourselves. We had a couple of half-chances but in the second half there was no creativity. That was hard to take for sure.
"I will speak to the chairman to see what is happening in regard to bringing in some new players. I always knew it was going to be a massive job at Villa. It is a massive football club with a great tradition. This club has been in a survival battle for the last couple of years.
"The forthcoming Capital One Cup semi-final is not something that I have not really thought about to be honest. The bread and butter is the league. It always is. We are in a fight but so are the other teams.
"Since I've been here the fans have been brilliant with myself and the team. I never criticise the crowd here at Villa Park because they are behind the team. All we can do is our very best for the club. The fans have been brilliant and have gone away as hurt as we are. We have to stick together.
"I've been beaten up badly both as a player and as a manager. It happens. It was disappointing to lose to Wigan as it was an opportunity to climb the table. Spurs and Chelsea are fine teams but Wigan was an opportunity to pull away, especially at home. That is the disappointment. To be turned over 3-0 at home certainly hurts everyone."
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez: "It was a really tense game before it started as both Villa and ourselves are in a similar position. We tried to play in the right way and the result was very important.
"In terms of the performance I thought it was similar to that we showed against Everton and Arsenal in the last two games. We were very clinical in both boxes and defended well, keeping [Christian] Benteke quiet. He is a footballer who can make a difference at this level. We covered this threat really well and had very good concentration.
"At the other end I thought we had even more opportunities to score in the closing stages. The players applied themselves in a great manner to get the result.
"This season I thought we started very brightly but then had a few difficult moments, particularly in November and December when we have had to cope with a lot of injuries and suspensions.
"This has been tough not to get the rewards on the pitch and its put a lot of pressure on the players. Not many foreign players can come into this league and cope with the physical side of the game.
"The know-how is important and the likes of [Arouna] Kone and [Ivan] Ramis are good examples how they have adapted. Being able to play in Germany and Spain has helped them a great deal. I was really impressed with Kone and I think he could have scored another couple of goals. But it will have boosted his confidence.
“Unfortunately we are losing players to the African tournament and other managers will tell you how difficult it is to lose important players at such a crucial stage of the season. I am sure that other players will come in and take the opportunity to shine."
|01 Jan 2013||v Swansea (A)|
|12 Jan 2013||v Southampton (H)|
|19 Jan 2013||v West Brom (A)|
|29 Jan 2013||v Newcastle (H)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Everton (A)|
|10 Feb 2013||v West Ham (H)|