Wigan Are Their Own Worst Enemy...

Wigan's blunder against Swansea on Tuesday was their 15th error leading to a goal this season. Roberto Martinez's failure to cut out costly mistakes has left the Latics in serious trouble...

Last Updated: 08/05/13 at 15:00 Post Comment

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On the day that Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed his retirement after 26 years at the helm of Manchester United, it seems only right that we should focus our attentions on Wigan in this week's piece...

To call Swansea's eventual winner a comedy of errors would certainly be justified for fans of the teams around Wigan in the lower reaches of the table, but for the Latics' supporters it was an all-too-familiar nightmare at the back.

In this article, WhoScored.com will analyse why Wigan are top-flight quality, but have only their own catastrophic defending to blame if they do finally give in to what some feel is an inevitability.

The fact that their midweek defeat unfolded in the exact opposite manner to the win over West Brom - twice going ahead before eventually losing 2-3 - epitomised Wigan's problem. With every step forward there has been another one back, leaving them in the same situation for the last four seasons, fighting to the death for survival.

Most credit Roberto Martinez for having done a magnificent job in securing, albeit uneasily, Wigan's status in the top flight. It's true that the Spaniard has worked wonders at the club, building a team on a shoe-string budget compared to most of their rivals, but is it not the case that the Latics now possess enough real Premier League quality, and in turn shouldn't be finding themselves in such a position?

Wigan arguably play better football, in terms of possession at least, than a large number of teams in the division. Indeed, they rank as high as seventh in the Premier League in terms of possession (54.4%), averaging more of the ball than both Everton and Spurs, while their pass accuracy of 82.5% is also among the league's top ten (eighth). In terms of the latter, they rank among the top 20 (out of 98) teams in Europe's top five leagues, with all of the sides above them placing in the top half of their respective divisions.

It is of course only right that the plaudits for such impressive figures are aimed at Martinez, who encourages and instils a confidence in players that few others would pin their hopes upon. Wigan's key players have never really hit the big time, with the likes of James McCarthy and Shaun Maloney drafted in from the Scottish Premier League, with the latter having had a forgettable spell with Aston Villa. It's fair to say that Martinez has improved the vast majority of players that he's worked with, so where is it all going wrong?

The answer, like the ending from an awful horror movie, is glaringly obvious, with Wigan's defending befitting of such an analogy. It was Gary Caldwell and Maloney whose mix-up led to Swansea's winner on Tuesday night, but the list of culprits with regards to individual errors is a long one. As many as seven Wigan players have made at least one error leading to a goal this season. That tally is better than only Arsenal (nine) and relegated QPR (eight), and it's clearly a real issue.

However, when looking at the number of players from each Premier League team to have committed mistakes leading to goalscoring opportunities that went unpunished, there are only eight Wigan players who have made such errors. That figure is only bettered by West Ham and Fulham (both six), and it's clearly a case of the usual suspects making fatal gaffes rather than the team as a collective. To put the figure into perspective, as many as 16 Newcastle players have made errors leading to unconverted chances for the opposition this season - unsurprisingly a league high.

This highlights the fact that when Wigan do needlessly surrender goalscoring opportunities, they're usually costly, unforgivable blunders. Following the error in midweek, they have now made a league high of 15 mistakes that have led to goals this season, proving that they are the architects of their own downfall.

It's also important to note that the conversion rate (48.4%) from the chances Wigan present to their opponents is also a league high. This points towards the unforgivable extent of such errors and also an unerring proficiency of their opponents. Fifteen of the 31 chances handed to Wigan's opponents courtesy of errors have been duly converted, with that figure above Man City (42.1%) in second and, more tellingly, relegated QPR (41.4%) and Reading (40.9%).

Wigan have conceded 67 goals in the league this season, which is the joint most in the division. Having conceded 62 in the previous campaign and 61 the season before that, it's a decline that could cost them their record of being the only side not to have been relegated from the top-flight of English football. If they do succumb to the drop they will only have themselves to blame.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

Follow Martin Laurence on Twitter at @martinlaurence7.

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