Gordon Sharrock looks back on a previous clash with Saturday’s opponents Wigan Athletic WANDERERS were talking Champions League again after victory in a demolition derby at the JJB lifted them back up to fifth in the Premiership, just two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Sam Allardyce insisted the UEFA Cup was still the most realistic target, but successive wins — they’d beaten Sheffield United the previous week — had put the Whites in a great position to mount a big push in their last six games.
A new hero emerged that Easter Saturday in the shape of Andranik Teimourian, the first Iranian to play Premiership football and whose two goals in five minutes secured a win that left Paul Jewell’s Latics in serious relegation trouble.
Signed from Aboo Moslem the previous summer, Andranik found first-11 chances hard to come by but, drafted in because Ivan Campo and Kevin Nolan were banned, he grabbed his chance.
Super-fit and super-charged, Andranik brought an energy to midfield and his instinctive finishing in the 68th and 73rd minutes put Wigan to the sword.
Emile Heskey put Wigan ahead on the half-hour but Wanderers, with El-Hadji Diouf the tormentor in chief, were level two minutes before half time when Nicolas Anelka knocked in his 11th of the season at the second attempt.
Allardyce played down Champions League talk after the victory, suggesting Wanderers were not ready for Europe’s premier competition.
“It would destroy the club,” he argued. “We are not big enough for that. It would be too much for us.”
In the end, they had to settle for the UEFA Cup — but by then Allardyce had left the club.
Wigan: Filan; Taylor, Jason, Hall, Baines; Valencia, Scharner, Skoko (Cotterill 74), McCulloch; Heskey, Folan (Camara 63). Not used: Nash, Kilbane, Unsworth.
Wanderers: Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Meite, Faye, Ben Haim (Gardner 35); Andranik, Thompson (Tal 74), Speed; Davies, Anelka (Stelios 88), Diouf. Not used: Al-Habsi, Pedersen.
Referee: Uriah Rennie (South Yorks). Attendance: 18,610.