Everton vs. Wigan: 6 Things We Learned from Latics' Stunning Victory
Four crazy minutes put Wigan through to the FA Cup semifinals for the first time in their history.
When Maynor Figueroa headed in a corner in the 30th minute, it was not entirely surprising—the Latics had been on the front foot for much of the first half-hour.
But what happened next was utter madness.
Phil Neville inexplicably gave the ball away in midfield a minute later, and Callum McManaman raced through to finish past a helpless Jan Mucha. And Everton's backup goalkeeper could do even less in two minutes, when Jordi Gomez whipped a first-time curler just inside the near post.
Everton never recovered, and they might not for a little while. Let's look at six things we learned from the match.
Wigan Should Defend Like This More Often
It was always unlikely that Everton would come all the way back from 3-0 down, but they still put up a spirited fight back in the second half.
Wigan, a side that is mired in the relegation scrap, never let the door open for a second.
Every surging run from Leighton Baines or Steven Pienaar was dealt with, and the entire team condensed into the penalty box when really put under pressure. And the midfield worked their socks off to frustrate Everton and silence the Goodison Park crowd.
Wigan Should Attack Like This More Often
Perhaps it was just a function of Everton's shoddy defending and overall malaise—especially in the first half—but Wigan came out swinging, just as Roberto Martinez wanted them to.
The Latics played good possession football all day, but their attacks also had pace and precision. While Everton converted none of their six shots on target, Wigan put three in the back of the net.
Shaun Maloney, in particular, was quite impressive. His running and dribbling on the left never ceased to give Everton problems, and he nearly scored with a curling drive early in the game.
If the Latics could turn up like this more often, they would not be on the edge of the drop zone.
Everton Were Extremely Sloppy
In all areas of the game, Everton were far from their usual selves.
How else to explain how they could not break down a side that are so obviously inferior?
Cheaply giving the ball away, not converting clear-cut chances and poorly defending Wigan's fast-paced attacks defined Everton's performance, and no substitution that David Moyes made changed anything.
The Latics' second goal was a perfect example of Everton's inexplicably sloppy play. Phil Neville was not forced to play a pass across midfield, but he did, misplaced it and that opened the door for worse.
David Moyes Now Has to Think About His Future
Perhaps Champions League football could have persuaded David Moyes to remain with Everton beyond this season, when his contract expires.
Perhaps Europa League football could do the same.
Or maybe even an FA Cup triumph—what would have been Moyes' first piece of silverware in more than a decade of managing at Goodison Park.
The latter is now impossible, and the former two are looking quite unlikely at the moment, considering Everton's position in the Premier League.
After the Toffees' latest slip-up to an inferior side, perhaps Moyes will now feel that he can go no further with a team that continues to suffer from a lack of investment.
Everton's Toothlessness Is Extremely Worrying
Wigan's rapid dissection of Everton's defense will get most of the attention, but the fact that the Toffees were kept off the scoreboard is an equally incredible accomplishment for Roberto Martinez's side.
And an equally disheartening fact for David Moyes.
The Scot obviously said something motivating to his players at halftime because they came out with renewed vigor at the start of the second period. But when their initial enthusiasm failed to produce a goal, Everton seemed all too eager to give up, and they looked progressively more defeated.
It all points to a startling decline from one of England's most promising teams a few months ago.
Wigan Can't Let Their Focus Slip from the League
My fellow Bleacher Report writer Emma Booth, a QPR fan, tweeted this as it became clear that Wigan would advance to the semifinals.
— Emma Booth (@boothalow) March 9, 2013
And, while funny, there is truth in her subtle warning to Roberto Martinez. If Wigan devote too many of their best players to the FA Cup—a competition they are not likely to win with two of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea likely to advance—they could be depleted for the crucial final stretch of the Premier League season.
With only goal difference keeping the Latics out of the drop zone, that is something that they absolutely cannot afford. Staying up is a much greater prize than the FA Cup.