Wigan Athletic vs. Aston Villa  0 - 0


McLeish feeling the heat at Villa

25 February 2012 20:32

Alex McLeish said vocal opposition from Aston Villa's supporters is making his job difficult following a 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic.

Villa were held to a frustrating stalemate away to the English Premier League's bottom club on Saturday.

They are now without a win from their last six matches in all competitions, and sit only eight points clear of the relegation zone.

The away fans at the DW Stadium made no secret of their displeasure at McLeish's reign, and the Scotsman confirmed the lack of support was affecting his morale.

"Nobody likes it," he said.

"I can't say it is water off a duck's back. I understand the modern-day thinking but I am not going to get into a spat with my own supporters."

"I need those guys."

Despite his indifferent tenure so far since swapping cross-city rivals Birmingham for Villa, McLeish claims he is still confident of bringing success to Villa Park.

"I have got a great challenge here," he said.

"It is probably one of the toughest jobs in the Premier League but I am up for it. I am willing to take it on."

"I still believe we will prosper."

Despite sitting bottom of the league, Wigan, unbeaten in their last three matches, are now just one point adrift of safety.

Manager Roberto Martinez has called on his players to improve their home form if they are to retain their top-flight status.

"Now results are a real priority," he said.

"We can win games away from home but at the moment we can't rely on our home form."

"It would be a real advantage if we could rectify that."

"We have 12 games left to get the points we need to stay up but I do not think there is a sense of fear. We know what we have to do."

"Unfortunately we have been in this situation to many times. We are a great example of how to face adversity."


Premier League: Wigan 0 Aston Villa 0

25 February 2012 18:53

Wigan remain bottom of the English Premier League after failing to break down a resolute Aston Villa defence in their 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Wigan dominated possession throughout but for all their endeavour they could not summon a goal at DW Stadium that would have lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Villa are now with just one win from their last seven league games leading the visiting fans to jeer manager Alex McLeish, and in a further blow for the Scotsman striker Darren Bent was stretchered off late on after a tackle from Antolin Alcaraz.

In the 8th minute Wigan had a great chance to take the lead after a bright start but a mix-up between James McCarthy and Emerson Boyce wasted the opportunity.

A square ball to Franco Di Santo was just behind the Argentinian, with McCarthy and Boyce lurking at the back post for a chance to smash home, but the Wigan pair ran straight into each other.

Villa were slow to get going but in the 15th minute they forced a superb stop from Ali Al-Habsi.

James Collins picked out Robbie Keane in the centre circle and the Irishman took down the ball expertly before playing a pinpoint pass to Bent with the outside of his boot.

The England striker was in one-on-one and hit it first-time to the left of Al-Habsi but the Wigan 'keeper stuck out an arm to knock it clear for a corner.

Wigan dominated the first-half in terms of possession and looked like the only side looking to win the game, though it was Villa who had carved open the best chance of the opening 45 minutes.

Villa started the second half at an electric pace and almost caught Wigan off guard with a Carlos Cuellar header.

Wigan were still the better of the two sides, though, and after Roberto Martinez introduced Hugo Rodallega, Villa appeared to shut up shop looking for a point.

The home side were passing patiently around Villa's penalty area before Rodallega tried to take matters into his own hands with a curling effort from the edge of the box, though it flew despairingly over.

Substitute Emile Heskey went close for Villa late on, but despite the seven minutes of added time, neither side could break the deadlock and were forced to settle for a point.


Premier League preview: Wigan v Aston Villa

23 February 2012 14:50

Aston Villa visit Wigan Athletic on Saturday desperate for a win to avoid joining their hosts in an English Premier League relegation scrap.

Wigan sit bottom of the table, three points adrift of safety and with just four wins to their name in 25 league matches this season.

One of those four wins arrived away to fellow strugglers Bolton last week, and was Wigan's first victory since December 12.

After barely avoided the drop last season, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez knows his team face another desperate battle to preserve their top-flight status.

The Spaniard turned down an approach from Villa in the off season, remaining with Wigan as a gesture of loyalty to club owner Dave Whelan.

The highly rated young coach could now be regretting his decision, and it is likely more than a few Aston Villa fans would prefer to see the 38-year-old in charge of their own team, as opposed to the divisive figure of Alex McLeish.

Scotsman McLeish swapped relegated Birmingham City for fierce local rivals Villa last year, meaning he had everything to do if he was to win over his new club's demanding fans.

With half of the season gone and Villa struggling in 15th place, McLeish's standing has arguably sunk even lower.

Villa are only seven points clear of the drop zone, and have managed just one win in their last six league matches.

In McLeish's defence they have just emerged from a difficult run, suffering an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal followed by Premier League losses to high-flying Newcastle and league leaders Manchester City.

But with a succession of winnable games coming up, against Wigan, Blackburn, Fulham and Bolton, Villa must seize the chance to pick points, or risk being dragged closer to the dogfight at the foot of the table.

McLeish has several injury worries ahead of Saturday's match, with defenders Richard Dunne (shoulder) and Ciaran Clark (knee) out until April and March respectively.

Further forward, on-loan midfielder Jermaine Jenas is likely to sit out the rest of the campaign with an Achilles injury, while Barry Bannan is in doubt due to an ankle problem.

Wigan have no new injuries worries, their only absentees remain goalkeeper Chris Kirkland (back) and midfielder Shaun Maloney (calf), who are sidelined indefinitely.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25
18+ GambleAware