FanZone's Wigan blogger Bob Allen debates the pros and cons of Jordi Gomez - and insists Latics are better off with him in the starting XI.
My first Wigan blog for FanZone will be concerning 27-year-old Spanish playmaker Jordi Gomez and the contested values he brings to the team.
Hailing from Barcelona, Gomez joined Wigan from Espanyol in 2009 after a successful loan spell at Swansea and big things were expected of him. Opinions on Gomez were quickly formed and were akin to those on Marmite - people really did, and still do, love or hate him.
The main arguments for and against his playing ability will be assessed to see whether the Spaniard deserves his place in our starting XI.
Members of the anti-Gomez camp will tell us how his lack of pace and need for an eternity on the ball mean that he simply isn't suitable for the so-called best league in the world. They'll say that he is robbed of the ball too easily and his lack of tracking back leads to an unprotected defence.
In defence of Gomez, his admirers would say how his passing ability is tremendous and his set-pieces are invaluable to us scoring goals and thus winning matches.
I think 99% of Wigan spectators can sympathise with both sides of the argument and he is considered to be a 'luxury' player. One with undisputed talent but without the work-rate that endears players such as Arouna Kone and Shaun Maloney to the Wigan faithful.
The question is whether a team like Wigan Athletic can afford to have this type of player when embroiled in a Premier League relegation battle.
However, statistics seem to tell their own story and make strong arguments for Gomez to start regularly. In all Wigan Athletic games this season so far (April 6 2013), the win percentage when Gomez has started is roughly 47% (8/17) while without him, we only manage to win 28% of games (6/21). Our goals per match ratio also increases when he is named in our starting XI.
With Gomez, we manage 1.53 (26 in 17 matches) goals per match in comparison to 1.33 (28 in 21 matches) without the much-maligned player.
I feel that Gomez has been unfairly treated during his time at Wigan, while understanding the frustration that he can cause.
Since his hat-trick against Reading earlier in the season, it seems as though things have started to change in terms of fans' appreciation and Gomez's style of play.
We now see him tracking backing and getting stuck in (occasionally) and it seems as if he has been working on his first touch in order to make himself time to pick out a defence-splitting pass.
Thankfully, we don't hear resounding cheers from the fans when he is substituted anymore. His ability to pick out an intelligent pass is certainly the best we've ever seen at the club, even if he does need slightly longer to make it.
I can't help but feel that if he didn't have these sluggish vices then there's no way he would be at our club, he'd be playing in the Champions League.
In seasons past, he has come up with valuable goals at important times and it's unfair that he has become the automatic scapegoat of many fans when we don't play at our best.
Despite the barrage of abuse he has received, he has never once spoken out against Wigan fans (as far as I'm aware) while a lot of other players would have and I feel he deserves some loyalty from our support.
There are very evident signs of his improvement and if we could get behind him and instil some confidence in the player then maybe we could see the player we thought we'd signed back in 2009.