match text commentary
wigan has been somewhat of bogey team for the baggies this last couple of years. in fact, with victories over the likes of liverpool, arsenal, chelsea, aston villa and newcastle in the last couple of seasons - as well as knocking manchester city out of the LEAGUE CUP last year - the baggies hadn't beaten wigan since marc antoine fortuné's brace and chris brunt's penalty secured a 3-1 home victory on may 9th, 2009.
of course, the baggies were already relegated at that point of the campaign and wigan was wrapping up yet another season of consolidation with a solid mid-table finish.
it's all too easy to underestimate a team that consistently finishes in the bottom half of the league every year, and going into a fixture with a team like wigan athletic should never be taken lightly. on any given match-day they are as likely to beat you as anyone in the division. to make a point, the baggies have taken only 2 points from the last 4 league encounters with the latics. that's as many points as west brom have earned against manchester united in the same period of time.
managed by roberto martinez, wigan play an attractive style of football, with a focus on possession, and with an unusual tactical formation (3-5-2) that can be very difficult to play against through the midfield.
the first worrying factor about travelling to play at the dw stadium is the exclusion of ben foster through injury. the baggies keeper was in obvious pain at home to southampton and was forced to kick with his wrong foot from early on in the game. boaz myhill came back into the starting line-up after a year on loan at birmingham city and seems to be a much improved player for the experience. the welsh international was sure handed, smartly positioned, quick to react and has the benefit of playing behind the best set of defenders the baggies have had in the last 30 years.
west brom took the lead with just half-an-hour gone through a goal by james morrison. it was pretty typical of the kind of goals that the baggies have been scoring lately with the scottish midfielder getting on the end of a chris brunt cross and heading in at the far post.
the baggies went two goals up with some direct play by billy jones. from a throw in, the right-back went straight at the box and cut towards the bi-line. james morrison let romelu lukaku's return ball run on for jones, who nutmegged ben watson and went straight for goal. the shot ultimately caromed off an unfortunate gary caldwell and past wigan goalie, ali al habsi at the near post. while it was credited as an own goal to the latics' defender, that shouldn't diminish jones' skill and vision in creating the opportunity.
however, the latics got themselves back in the game less than 2 minutes later on a goal by striker, arouna koné. the ivorian scored just before half-time on a ball played in into the albion box by jean beausejour. the chilean's low, hard drive flashed across the face of goal for koné to tap in at the far post.
the second half produced no goals, but a sterling performance by the baggies' defense - especially the surprising boaz myhill in goal - made sure of full points and the albion's rise in the league table continues.
there is no doubt that the baggies have been one of the form teams since day one of the season, but were still without an away win going into this match. this is just one indication of how difficult the PREMIER LEAGUE can be, and in that respect, this may have been a turning point that sees the baggies strengthen their position as a top side in the league.