Wigan’s season has been one that the fans will not forget. A first ever appearance in the FA Cup final is guaranteed, but before that day out in the showpiece on May 11, it is time to focus on the more important battle, and that is survival in the Premier League.
On Wednesday, the Latics came so close to achieving a brilliant point against the soon-to-be former champions in Manchester City. Unfortunately for the visitors, Carlos Tevez produced another moment of quality to score the goal that earned City a slightly fortuitous 1-0 victory.
Wigan played well, and had chances. Franco di Santo missed a great one in the first-half, whilst Paul Scharner had a header that smacked the crossbar after the restart, although he was adjudged to be offside in the process.
Despite the disappointing result, the players and supporters should hold their heads high at a great effort. What it does suggest is the FA Cup final won’t be a City walkover, as has been suggested by a few since the semi-finals were completed.
In the bottom half of the table they might be, but Wigan have the capability of mixing their football, and forcing top teams to change their gameplan for things to work out. And they can destroy teams near the top when they are on-song, as Everton can vouch for from their quarter-final in the cup.
But Roberto Martinez has got to pick his side up from the disappointment of conceding late on at the Etihad quickly. The club have six games left, and are three points below Aston Villa and Stoke in the battle to avoid the drop.
With tough games against Arsenal and Tottenham in the run-in, there are two away games coming up which could be pivotal for Martinez’s chargers. Away trips to West Ham on Saturday, and West Brom at the beginning of May normally would see a draw as a favourable result.
However, you have to think that they need to leave either Upton Park or the Hawthorns with all three points. Lose both of these games, and it is going to be mighty difficult to beat the drop.
The season is reaching its crucial stage, and any point is a bonus. What Wigan need to do is to show the ability to bounce back from Wednesday. West Ham have nothing to play for, apart from a possible top half finish which would bring slightly higher prize money from the Premier League.
The Hammers are safe, but there is absolutely no way that a Sam Allardyce side will go on their holidays mentally until the campaign is officially over. Martinez also has to have a gameplan in place to stop the aerial bombardment towards Andy Carroll.
Carroll is starting to show some of the form that got him back into the England reckoning last summer, and he will be a handful for the Wigan backline. Deal with Carroll and the Lancashire side should collect something from east London on Saturday.
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