• Third win in a row makes up for two early defeats
• Roberto Martínez regrets Wigan missed chances
The contrast between the first and second halves could hardly have been more dramatic: Tottenham picked up where they had left off against Liverpool a week earlier, playing the first 45 minutes in cashmere comfort while Wigan, by their manager's admission, "chased shadows". Early in the second half, a goal from the reorganised hosts left Spurs with a job of preservation, even against 10 men.
"I had a feeling we might run out of steam," said the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, whose side had taken a two‑goal lead through Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale. "We rushed Sandro back and Rafa's still a little bit short of fitness. But it was OK in the end."
If Spurs' season is to finish with similar assessments, keeping players fit will be critical. Wigan pressed in the latter stages, so Redknapp will have been particularly glad the excellent Ledley King finished his third consecutive league start.
Redknapp talked about the strength of his squad, but with Jermain Defoe sent home, suffering from a fever, and Roman Pavlyuchenko not fit to travel, he had no other option than to play Van der Vaart in support of Emmanuel Adebayor. When Adebayor was hurt early in the second half he had to play on, despite being distracted by a blow to his left eye. In the first half the on-loan striker had set up the first goal and tested Ali al-Habsi's reflexes from distance, but his influence waned after the break.
The manager's good humour was down in part to the performance of his central midfield, which welcomed back Sandro in partnership with Scott Parker. The Brazilian is the more elegant but Parker's link-up play with the full-back Kyle Walker allowed Tottenham to make use of their blistering pace down both flanks and gave Luka Modric licence to drift in from a nominal right-wing position.
"We went into the first two games without a team; I didn't have any midfield players," said Redknapp, of the fixtures against Manchester United and Manchester City in which Spurs conceded eight goals. "It's a different team altogether now."
The Wigan manager, Roberto Martínez, was pleased with the difference to his own side after the interval as they coped ably with the dismissal of Steve Gohouri, for a second lunge at Bale. Despite the loss of Charles N'Zogbia and Tom Cleverley, Martínez believes his squad is stronger this year than last. The second-half substitutes were instrumental.
Ronnie Stam closed down Benoît Assou-Ekotto's casual pass and found Mohamed Diamé, who struck from the edge of the area. Wigan's late chances to equalise came through James McArthur, introduced with 15 minutes to play. He might have played Stam in with a lighter touch in the 87th minute, and tested Brad Friedel with an attempted lob soon after.
"With a little bit more composure we could have got something," said Martínez.