WIGAN ATHLETIC-EVERTON PREVIEW – A GET AWAY FROM THE DARK SIDE?

The last time Wigan Athletic won at home was on August 27th, when they beat Queens Park Rangers 2-0. They have not won any of their last 9 matches at the DW Stadium. Everton are currently in 10th place and have won 4, drawn 3 and lost 5 of their away games. However, they have only won one of their last 5 away games. Since joining the Premier League Latics have beaten Everton only once at home.

Another “must win” match for Wigan? We seem to have been saying that for some time, but a win over Everton could be a real turning point. Everton are a mid table team at the moment and Latics need to be able to beat teams like that to stay up. Latics have four home games remaining against teams who are currently lying below Everton in the table – Aston Villa (currently 12th), Swansea (14th), WBA (15th) and Wolves (19th) – in addition to those against Manchester United (2nd), Newcastle (5th) and Stoke (9th).

Mohamed Diame is due to return for Wigan following Senegal’s disappointing showing in the African Nations Cup. There is a chance of David Jones being fit and his experience of playing in the left wing back position might well put him ahead of Jean Beausejour if they play the three centre back system. Hugo Rodallega is likely to return, hopefully at centre forward – where despite his lean spell – he is more likely to score than either Di Santo or Sammon. Antolin Alcaraz may be fit and this could pose a selection dilemma for Martinez, with Boyce, Caldwell and Figueroa being the last custodians of the centre back positions.

A lucky deflected shot, a bad penalty, an own goal, a red card – any of these could help Latics overcome Everton if they were to go in our favour. An ounce or two of luck is what we need. Everton are a very well organized team, with a miserly defence which has conceded only 26 goals in 23 matches. They get a lot of goals from set plays and most of their goals come in the second half. They have been perked up by the return of the excellent Landon Donovan from Los Angeles and Steven Pienaar from Tottenham. They have a desperately needed new centre forward in Nikica Jelavic, a 6 ft. 2 in. Croatian, plus Darron Gibson from Manchester United. As has often happened to Wigan this season they are unlucky in having to play a team whose confidence has been boosted, not only with their new arrivals, but also in their 1-0 win over league leaders Manchester City. However, Everton are not one of those top six clubs who throw around monopoly money and compete for the world’s best. They are step below that and are definitely beatable.

One can understand the doom and gloom pervading the blue side of Wigan. Results have been awful this season and points have been thrown away by reckless and frustrating individual errors. However, one can watch the other relegation candidates play and see similar patterns in their performances. What a pity we had those horrible results against Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves and QPR. In each match the other team looked as nervous as Wigan did, but things just did not work out for us. However, those clubs remain in the relegation mire and all we need to do is finish above them and we are safe. The nerves are jangling not only in Wigan. We play three of those teams again before the end of the season, classic “six pointers” that can make a huge difference if we win them.

Let’s go into this game with the right approach. This means putting out a balanced lineup (with players in their natural positions), putting in the sweat and toil needed to close down the other team’s options, but more than anything else – really trying to win the game. Draws are not sufficient at this stage. I am going to stick my neck out here and predict a win for Wigan Athletic. Let’s keep the faith and get away from that dark side!

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