It’s business time at the DW, as Latics kick off the survival run-in with a must-win fixture against Roberto’s old flame, Swansea City.
The reverse fixture in Wales back in August was an interesting 0-0 draw in which Latics were twice denied by the post, either side of a Ben Watson penalty miss. Had any of those gone in, Latics would be sitting above the relegation zone in 17th.
The Welsh team has enjoyed a fine season, claiming a few famous scalps and impressing with their (extremely familiar) passing style of football. Liberty Stadium has been a real fortress for them, achieving a 5W, 6D, 2L record there. Away results, however — 2W, 3D, 8L — are a bit more encouraging.
Logic says we should be able to go one better and beat them on our own ground, but Wigan Athletic’s seasons often defy logic. Our away record is three times 0ur home record, when it comes to winning. The last time it happened at the DW was in August, though we’ve certainly come close — a lot.
Last weekend was one of those occasions, as Villa took a point home with them despite being bombarded by 14 corners, the most I can remember us getting against anyone. One suspects tomorrow’s match will be a lot more open. It’ll be interesting to see how the cut-up pitch affects two teams who like the ball on the ground. Lets hope the weather cooperates.
In team news, just about everyone should be fit although Antolin Alcaraz and Maynor Figueroa both had long journeys back after 90 minutes for Paraguay and Honduras respectively. James McArthur and Gary Caldwell played the full 90 for Scotland as well, with the Latics captain sustaining a gash to his ankle requiring stitches. Victor Moses made a 30-minute debut for Nigeria, while Momo Diame played an hour for Senegal. Ali Al-Habsi kept a clean sheet for Oman, who are on course for World Cup qualification — while James McCarthy did not feature for Ireland.
It’s hard to guess whether Martinez will tweak his XI. Many of us would like to see Momo Diame back in the team, but with James McArthur in excellent form and James McCarthy fresh having not played in midweek, it’s hard to see either being dropped. Jordi Gomez would be another candidate, but he was quite effective against Swansea in the previous match and will be itching to play against his former club. Ronnie Stam has been unlucky to lose his place to Emmerson Boyce and could return, although the defensive insurance Boyce provides may be considered a higher priority in the first half. If the lineup were to remain unchanged, second half attacking options such as Rodallega, Diame, Stam and Crusat look very strong. Swansea has a near-full squad to choose from.
Keep an eye out for:
Andre Marriner, who makes his return to the DW for the first time since the ludicrous piece of refereeing (0:47 seconds into the video) that lost Latics two points against Blackburn. One would expect him to treat Latics kindly after essentially gifting Blackburn a goal.
There’s just no other way to see this one, we have to win. But I’m sure it will not be without drama. It’s 2-1 to Wigan Athletic.