Roberto Martinez fielded a usual team in his now favoured 3-4-3 formation with Di Santo and Gomez either side of Kone up front. Media and fans alike seem to always pigeonhole Newcastle's formation as either 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 however this was more of a 4-5-1 disguised as a 4-4-2, a pseudo 4-4-2 if you will. This will be explained throughout the analysis.
The starting line ups
Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are both forwards. There is no doubt that both operate best up top thriving on good passes and movement from the midfield, which is why everyone is so quick to classify any Newcastle line up that features both of them as a 4-4-2. In practice this turned out to be a sort of hybrid 4-4-2/4-5-1 in which Cisse/Ba (who switch roles throughout the game) move to a right midfield role whilst not in possession but have the nod to roam forward and support the attacker when Newcastle are in control of the ball.
The game started in an open manner, Tiote and Di Santo both having decent opportunities from long range however after Wigan had a series of threatening set pieces inside the first 7 minutes The Magpies quickly got comfortable on the ball and pressure Wigan's centre backs to ensure they could not play out from the back.
In the 12th minute Newcastle were awarded a penalty and Maynor Figueroa was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Demba Ba scored, and the sending off changed the tactical battle.
Roberto Martinez made plans for James McArthur to replace Jordi Gomez; a central midfielder for a right winger in order to tighten up through the middle and give a bit more defensive stability. Martinez however, delayed the substitution and played 2-4-3 for a few minutes. Newcastle's pressing continued and Demba Ba managed to put Newcastle 2-0 up before McArthur could be introduced.
When he did replace the Spaniard, Wigan moved to a 2-5-2 shape with Beausejour and Stam continuing their roles as wing backs, supporting in attack and defence.
How Wigan shaped up after the dismissal of Figueroa and the removal of Gomez for McArthur
Newcastle continued to press high up, causing panic on a number of occasions; Al Habsi still decided to go short and put his defence in a couple of awkward positions as Cisse, Anita and Ba closed them down.
In the second half Wigan became more interested in the game, they appeared more determined and attack minded. Martinez took off Caldwell, who was given a yellow card in the first 45 minutes, and put on Piscu. Newcastle replaced Tiote with the promising Burundi born Gael Bigirimana.
Wigan played far better in this half; their pass completion rate increased from 76% to 85% and had 51% of possession while in the first period they only amounted 48%. However they were still vulnerable to counter attacks and Bigirimana scored his first goal for Newcastle after creating space on the edge of the area and firing past Al Habsi.
This is probably the best Newcastle have played all season, and this was done without Cabaye, Ben Arfa or Steven Taylor. The extra man gave the home team more space to operate in and this is shown by their pass completion (87%).
Newcastle average 79% completed passes per game, and Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse are usually the two players that bring the rate down as they have 75% and 72% completion rate respectively. Even Tiote refrained from his usual long ball attempts and completed 91% of his passes.
Left: Papiss Cisse completed an unusually high amount of passes. Mostly to do with his more withdrawn and defensive role on the right wing
Below: Demba also thrived against the Wigan defence, often coming deep to lay the ball off
Newcastle put on a good display in the first half but Wigan came back and played well in the second, despite being down to 10 men. The hybrid 4-4-2/5-5-1 formation gave Newcastle extra men in midfield and also allowed players to move forward in attack, creating problems for Wigan's back three.