WIGAN manager Roberto Martinez has told his players they must make life more difficult for opponents after beginning a tough run of fixtures with a 4-0 home defeat by Arsenal.
Latics went into Saturday’s clash on a high after claiming a first victory since August against Sunderland last weekend, but they shot themselves in the foot in the 28th minute by allowing Mikel Arteta to score a soft goal.
Just over a minute later Thomas Vermaelen nodded in a corner to make it two, and there was no way back for the hosts, who shipped further goals to Gervinho and Robin van Persie.
The result, coupled with Blackburn’s victory over Swansea, sent Wigan back to the foot of the table.
And with matches against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United to come this month, they face a major challenge if they are to avoid staying there into the New Year.
Martinez said: “Obviously we are disappointed because we were really excited going into the game.
“I felt the team reached very good levels in the last two games but, after the first 15 minutes, I don’t think we could be ourselves.
“Every game in the Premier League is difficult enough, every game brings its own problems, and I feel if we can bring our form in the manner we did in the first 15 minutes and make sure we control the key moments in games, every performance becomes different.
“We need to give credit to Arsenal.
“I thought we gave them a strong lead but they took advantage of that. We need to make sure we learn from it and it doesn’t happen again.
“We’ve got big games coming up in terms of playing the top sides in the competition but this is the league you want to be in and we’re excited to play these glamorous sides. But we need to learn that we shouldn’t get affected by conceding goals. There are ways to lose and I thought we lost a little bit too easily.”
The performance was something of a disappointment to Martinez after the high of last weekend’s win at Sunderland.
He said: “Everything you do in a football game is to score goals, and in the same manner conceding the goals we conceded makes performances very difficult.
“The first two goals are really soft and they are really close to each other, and I felt that affected us too much.
“That’s probably the real disappointment.
“We all know Arsenal have got a real quality squad and real experience but giving them a two-goal cushion helped them to use their experience and control the tempo of the game, and we made it a little bit easy.
“In the second half we started brightly again but we weren’t ourselves, we couldn’t reach the level we reached in the last two games, and we cannot keep conceding goals like we did today.
“We conceded early goals against Sunderland and Blackburn and we got back into the games, but when you’re playing against top-class opposition you need to be a little bit harder to beat.
“We need to get stronger.”