Fulham win away in September! It must be our earliest away win in four years, but it’s always a relief to get that monkey off our back so quickly. It was a fair result too – but only just, as Wigan had much of the play.
Schwarzer – 8, provided the standout moment of the match from my point of view. With the lead just at a single goal, Wigan the dominant side and Koné bearing down at goal, an equaliser would surely shift the momentum well in the way of the home side. However, Schwarzer judged his charge supremely; any sooner and Koné would have been able to skip around him, any later and Koné would have had enough time to poke it at goal. As it was, Koné was smothered, and we retained our lead. Aside from that Schwarzer had to be sharp on a couple of occasions, and on the whole it was a very accomplished performance.
Hughes – 6, a bit shaky was Hughes despite being fresh from extending his contract. Koné, who was the most impressive Wigan performer on the day, out-muscled him too easily at times. However, when we were under pressure Hughes did enough to prevent Wigan opportunities with good defending.
Hangeland – 7, Wigan’s wing backs found a lot of space and so had many opportunities to cross in the ball. It required Hangeland to monitor the defence well and to dominate the box, two aspects where he was adequate for sure.
Riise – 6, his threat going forward was nullified with the aggressive positions taken by Wigan’s wide players (in terms of the wing backs and rotating forward players). Having said that, other than a couple of times in the first half little came down his side, and so you could argue it was a fair trade off. Kacaniklic perhaps struggled because of it though.
Riether – 6, a bit different to Riise. We struggled to defend down his side – Beausejour was a notable threat all game and we were lucky not to concede from one of his attacks – but on the other hand he showed more attacking intent which was useful in relieving pressure when we needed it.
Baird – 6, not the passing masterclass that he perhaps provided last weekend but an assured performance nonetheless. In a game where we didn’t have the majority of possession his defensive nous was needed, and he helped keep that possession in front of the back four.
Sidwell – 6, like Baird worked hard to snuff out the attacking threat outside of our box, although had a tendency to find himself out of position on occasion. He offered himself going forward too, notably sending in dangerous cross from deep in the right flank position which should have resulted in a Berbatov goal.
Kacaniklic – 5, a subdued game from the youngster. Not that we should be particularly concerned, they happen, but he never particularly ran at Boyce or had the ball in dangerous situation, and it was noticeable how our attacking intent picked up when Ruiz came on for him.
Duff – 8, another boss performance from the Irishman who in just five games has scored three goals and in doing so has surpassed his goal tally in the league for last season. It was a sweet strike, impossible to have been hit truer, across the keeper into the side netting with his weaker foot for the extra shabaz. He also offered an attacking threat and was capable of exploiting Beausejour’s defensive deficiencies, something we perhaps should have one a bit more of seeing as
Berbatov – 8, an undoubted virtuoso on the ball as he conducted the well-rehearsed concerto of Fulham’s opening half. It included two delicious balls from out wide in to Rodallega, placed perfectly on his head (the second of which resulted in our opener). Wigan struggled with his use of the ball from deep, his movement and touch too clever, although he was starved of it in the middle third of the game. He will be disappointed not to have scored from 10 yards but Al Habsi smothered him well.
Rodallega – 8, I said to anyone who would listen that Rodallega would score on Saturday and thankfully he didn’t make me look like an idiot. It was a great leap and a powerful header, and that in tandem with his pace and strength demonstrate we have a great physical option upfront. His link-up play with Berbatov is promising, and it was from that combination the header was created. He also played a part in the second goal after he was moved out wide left, charging forward and feeding the ball into Ruiz. The aimless ball played in the second half when he was expecting the left back or left winger (instinctively assuming he was a centre forward) demonstrates he’s not quite in tune with the team but he looks dangerous and exciting.
Ruiz – 7, he was bright when he came on, and the way he shook off the four Wigan players surrounding him to prod the ball to Duff suggests that he is prepared to be more physical this year. I look forward to seeing Berbatov and Ruiz link up in a more dominant display, but he helped regain some control in our attacking third. He did give the ball away a couple of times quite dangerously.
Briggs – N/A, a late sub to shore up our midfield and offer a better shape than having Rodallega in the left of midfield. He didn’t have time to shine particularly but it was nice to see him.