WIGAN EYEING SWIFT RETURN TO WEMBLEY
JAMES McArthur believes Wigan have provided the perfect tonic to their FA Cup hangover – claiming the Latics have what it takes for another trip down Wembley Way this season.
A week after relinquishing the FA Cup – bowing out on penalties to Arsenal in the semi-finals – Wigan tightened their grip on a play-off spot with an emphatic win over Reading, who slipped out of the top six as a result.
Jordi Gomez’s fine strike gave Wigan a deserved opener on the half hour before Martyn Waghorn knocked in a rebound to double their lead before the break.
Callum McManaman then smashed home off the bar to provide the Latics with a 14th win in 24 league matches under Uwe Rosler, leaving them five points clear of Brighton, who ended the day in sixth.
“A lot of people were thinking we were going to slip up and not be able to bounce back from what happened at the weekend but everyone was positive about what happened against Arsenal because we put up a good show,” said McArthur.
“We were very unfortunate not to get through and everyone knew our focus was to try and get back in the Premier League so, especially now that we’re out of the cup, we can focus on that.”
“I think it was close to the perfect performance; we controlled the tempo of the match and that’s what it was all about from start to finish.
“We could have had a few more goals with a lot of balls flashed across the face of the goal and if we were in better positions we’d tap them in but I don’t think we can complain, we’ve scored three good goals and it’s another valuable three points.”
Wigan travel to Burnley tomorrow with the Clarets looking to rubber-stamp their automatic promotion.
“We needed three points against Reading and we’ll go into the Burnley game wanting three points as well – hopefully we’ll get them,” added McArthur.
“We need to keep performing like we did against Reading; when the manager first came in we were at it and all pressing very well.
“Then I think we didn’t work it right for a little bit but we were back at it and we put Reading under a lot of pressure from the word go, hopefully we can have more performances like that.”
Smart passing play from the home side opened up Reading in the fifth minute, allowing McManaman to burst through the defence and force a save from Alex McCarthy.
But Wigan deservedly took the lead in the 30th minute as Roger Espinoza slipped in Gomez who arrowed a superb left-footed strike into the top corner from 25 yards. Wigan doubled their advantage after 41 minutes through Waghorn who knocked home the rebound from six yards after McManaman had been denied by McCarthy.
Just five minutes after half time McManaman put Wigan 3-0 up. Waghorn won the ball on the halfway line and fed the winger who fired home off the bar.
Reading offered their first threat since the opening minutes after 77 minutes as Michael Hector hit a speculative effort just wide from 30 yards – but Nigel Adkins quickly turned attentions to Tuesday’s clash with Middlesbrough.
“All being well we’ll play them at Wembley in the final and we’ll have to be a hell of a lot better,” said Adkins. “We’re in the mix, we’re in the race.
“We have to make sure that come Tuesday night we’re bang at it. We’ll reflect upon this day and then whoever wears the shirt of Reading on Tuesday night has got to go and run through a brick wall.
“But Wigan are the best team we have played this season.”
FLEET FOOT MAC: Wigan’s Callum McManaman, centre, celebrates scoring their third goal