Goalless at the DW
Chances were at a premium as the team returned to Premier League combat with a 0-0 draw against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Chances were at a premium as the team returned to Premier League combat with a 0-0 draw against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
Heurelho Gomes dealt excellently with most of what openings there were, while his opposite number Ali Al Habsi had a relatively quiet afternoon as many attacks broke down before troubling him.
Harry Redknapp made three changes to the team that drew with West Ham last time out.
Sebastien Bassong came in for William Gallas in central defence, Jermaine Jenas was back in midfield for Gareth Bale and Roman Pavlyuchenko up front with Jermain Defoe as we switched to 4-4-2, Aaron Lennon back on the bench. He was joined by Tom Huddlestone, back in the 18 for the first time since November.
There was a particularly sluggish start to the encounter, a dragged shot from Charles N'Zogbia was as much as the statisticians would have recorded from the opening 20 minutes.
The intensity of the contest cranked up a notch when Defoe and Pavlyuchenko combined neatly on the edge of the area and the Russian looked to have been felled by James McCarthy. He waited for Mr Marriner to point spotwards but the referee waved play on.
Jermaine Jenas then launched a thumping drive on goal that was fielded by Ali Al Habsi only at the second attempt - and just before a prowling Defoe could pounce.
Victor Moses responded by crashing a shot narrowly over the bar at the other end, doing likewise a few minutes later. Moses then went down in the area appealing for a penalty under pressure from Benoit Assou-Ekotto, with Mr Marriner taking his time before electing which decision to make. Replays showed his actions were correct.
The home crowd were roused just before half-time when Hugo Rodallega got into a tangle with Sebastien Bassong, handling the ball in the process before going to ground. The referee didn't make himself popular in these parts but got the decision right again.
N'Zogbia forced a strong save out of Gomes in the opening minutes of the second half, getting the better of Assou-Ekotto before forcing the keeper to stoop low to his near post.
A Moses run down the right created further work for Gomes, diverting a low centre away from initial danger, but it then took a lunge in tandem from both Michael Dawson and Bassong to prevent Rodallega opening the scoring.
Gomes then produced a stunning save to tip away a curling drive from Tom Cleverley.
On 57 minutes Harry decided it was time for change and drafted in Peter Crouch, who took the place of Defoe alongside Pavlyuchenko.
There was another change shortly afterwards when van der Vaart was replaced by Aaron Lennon - taking his place on the bench for the remainder of the game.
Sandro embarked on a long-striding run that only ended when Gary Caldwell decided to chop him down and willingly accept a yellow card.
The changes appeared to spark the team and the tempo was now being dictated by the team in white, with Luka Modric pulling the strings and Sandro offering both drive and solidity.
Crouch should perhaps have scored when Jenas managed to hook the ball into his flight path but, under challenge, he couldn't keep his header on target.
Niko Kranjcar was the final change with five minutes remaining, the replacement for Modric coming just after a double striker change from the home side.
Substitute Conor Sammon found himself clear in the area and it took a snap save from Gomes to prevent Wigan landing a late blow.
It would have been an even later one had Franco Di Santo latched onto Sammon's cross in front of goal as the home side went for it in stoppage time, but it remained goalless.
Wigan (4-5-1): Al Habsi; Boyce, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa; N'Zogbia (Di Santo, 85), Watson, McCarthy, Moses (Sammon, 66), Cleverley; Rodallega (Diame, 85). Unused subs: Pollitt, Gohouri, Gomez, Stam.
Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Bassong, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Van der Vaart (Lennon, 69), Jenas, Sandro, Modric (Kranjcar, 86); Pavlyuchenko, Defoe (Crouch, 57). Unused subs: Cudicini, Rose, Huddlestone, Pienaar.
Referee: Mr A Marriner.