Date: Saturday, 28th April, 2012.
Referee: Mike Dean (The Wirral Whistler).
Hmm, well despite the large difference in the Magpies’ and the Latics’ respective league positions, this could well be an interesing game.
Roberto Martinez and Atletico Wigan’s progress has followed a fairly similar pattern to that of last season, ie staring into the abyss most of the time, then finally pulling themselves together for a string of stylish and surprising results which look like pulling them out of the mire at the eleventh hour, well they would if fellow strugglers, Queen’s Park Rangers hadn’t decided to pull off one or two surprising results of their own as the Premiership season edges towards it’s denouement. The catalyst for this change in form seems to have been a switch from what has looked like a 4-5-1 formation earlier in the season, to a highly offensive Cruyffian style 3-4-3 formation from Señor Martinez. Of course, our Silver Supremo, Alan Pardiola, has been on a similar road to Damascus recently, switching from his old 4-4-2 to more attacking 4-3-3 which has reaped remarkable dividends with the electrifying form of players such as Hatem Ben Arfa and new boy, Papiss Cisse, leading the way.
Stats, previous matches etc…
In terms of their last six games, Newcastle have been untouchable, being the only team in the Premiership to have won all of their last six games. However, despite their still lowly position, Wigan’s hasn’t exactly been too shabby either, as they have won four out of their last six games, taking the scalps of no lesser teams than Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. Even though their last game was a 2-1 away defeat to Fulham, if the season had started six games ago, Newcastle United would be top of the Premiership and even more amazingly, Wigan would be third with Manchester United separating the two. Looking over the whole season though, Wigan have the worst home form in the division, having only won a mere three games at the DW Stadium, two of those victories have been their last two home games though, and the one before that was a draw. Let’s take a look.
|Wigan and Newcastle – Last six Premiership games|
I think you’ll agree that it makes great reading for any Magpies’ fan. Looking at our last six games at the DW Stadium though, things don’t look so good as apart from our last game there, a 1-0 victory with Fenham goal machine, Shola Ameobi, scoring the winning goal, we have lost all of the rest! Still, the last one is the most important and we broke the voodoo there.
Finally for this section, let’s take a look at their home form vs our away form in the last six home / away games.
|Wigan home form v Newcastle away form|
Here we see parity in that both sides have garnered nine points from a possible eighteen. So, in conclusion fpr this section, despite the considerable difference in the clubs’ league position and Newcastle United’s perfect recent form, Wigan may indeed give us a game so there will be no room for complacency with the Latic’s recent renaissance.
Team news and squads
On the Wigan side, Franco Di Santo (F), has a doubtful calf, Ronnie Stam (D) has a doubtful hamstring and Hugo Rodallega (F) will probably face a late fitness test after returning to training but I’ve pencilled him in. Finally, Albert Crusat (M) should definitely be up for selection after returning from injury.
Chris Kirkland (G), Ali Al-Habsi (G), Mike Pollitt (G), Gary Caldwell (D, C), Antolín Alcaraz (D), Maynor Figueroa (D), Steve Gohouri (D), Emmerson Boyce (D), Adrián López (D), Jean Beausejour (M), Mohamed Diamé (M), Jordi Gómez (M), James McArthur (M), James McCarthy (M), Albert Crusat (M), Ben Watson (M), Hendry Thomas (M), Shaun Maloney (M), David Jones (M), Hugo Rodallega (F), Victor Moses (F), Conor Sammon (F), Callum McManaman (F).
Doubtful: Franco Di Santo (F, Calf), Ronnie Stam (D, hamstring),
What is it with Haris Vučkić? He’s 6’2″, built like a brick outhouse, and yet everytime he falls over, he seems to shatter like a piece of fine crystal. Anyway, he joined the like of Steven Taylor (ruptured achilles), Peter Lovenkrands (thigh) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) on the long term injury list some time ago with his knee. Meanwhile, another injury magnet, Sylvain Marveaux (groin), has actually been back in training, but remains doubtful, as does Gabriel Obertan with a small knock. Danny Guthrie should be available though after recovering from his calf / shin injury.
Tim Krul (G), Rob Elliot (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson (D), Davide Santon (D, M), Ryan Taylor (D, M), Shane Ferguson (D, M), James Tavernier, James Perch (D, M), Fabricio Coloccini (D, C), Mike Williamson (D), Cheik Tiote (M), Yohan Cabaye (M), Danny Guthrie (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa (M, F), Mehdi Abeid (M), Dan Gosling (M), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cisse (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Leon Best (F).
Injured: Steven Taylor (achilles), Peter Lovenkrands (thigh), Haris Vučkić (knee), Sammy Ameobi (knee).
Doubtful: Sylvain Marveaux (groin), Gabriel Obertan (knock).
What the managers have said
Well, it was a case of beware the wounded animal for Alan Pardiola, who is wary of a bottom feeding Wigan who, despite their recent good run, are still fighting for their Premiership lives in these last few games. He said:
“We have some tough games. All of the games coming up are difficult. When you come up against these bottom sides, they are fighting for their lives. We’ve got that on Saturday at Wigan and it’s going to make it really difficult.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, Roberto Martinez had this to say about his Wigan side:
“I am extremely proud of the team and the results we have been getting, but we have done nothing, we need to concentrate on the next three games. That is not just for myself but for everyone – the staff, players and everyone connected to the football club.”
Moving on to the matter in hand, ie tomorrow’s game, he then added:
“All we are talking about is Newcastle and making sure we are as good as we can be in the next three games, and nothing else.”
And that just about wraps it up, except to say that we will be here with our usual “match banter” post, which will go out around an hour before kick off, and we will also be posting match highlights as soon as the game is finished, along with a match report and video of the video of the whole match if / when it becomes available. Oh! and of course:
Howay the Lads!