Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan.
Date: Sun 17th March, 2013.
Kick off: 4.00pm.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Bolton).
UK TV: Sky Sports.
Hello, good afternoon and welcome to our “match banter” feature for this afternoon’s game, which sees Newcastle United taking on Wigan Athletic at their place, the DW Stadium.
Of course in recent seasons, Wigan usually spend much of their time toward the bottom of the Premiership, then suddenly come into form at just the right time to save themselves from the dreaded drop around this time. Although they took a bit of a pounding against Liverpool in their last game but one, the signs have been there this season too, as the game before that Liverpool defeat was a convincing 3-0 victory over fellow relegation strugglers Reading, and in the one after they knocked Everton out of the FA Cup by the same scoreline.
Hence, though we beat them 3-0 (that scoreline again) earlier in the season at St James’ Park, the Magpies will have to be at their very best this afternoon just in case! After all, most of you will remember this same fixture last season. We were flying high on the back of six consecutive victories and looking at possibly grabbing a bit of top four Champions League action when low flying Wigan brought us down to earth with a bump! Wigan manager Roberto Martinez set his side up in a highly attacking Cruyffian 3-4-3 formation and absolutely murdered us, with the match ending as a 4-0 victory to the home side. Here’s hoping that there isn’t a repeat of that one!
Speaking in the run up to the game, Alan Pardew looked back at that big defeat last season, after looking back at the last eight Europa League draw which will see Newcastle matched up with the mighty Benfica. On this he began:
“It was about the draw and a little bit of enjoying our glamour, you could argue. The players probably deserve that.”
Moving on to this afternoon (and that defeat last season) he continued:
“We have a very difficult team to play in Wigan. Their manager has a dilemma. He left out three or four of his players and they won 3-0 at Everton. We do not really know what their team will be. What we do know is defeat there last year was one of the biggest disappointments of our season because we went there as a team in a Champions League position and we were deefated. That is what we have to put right and hopefully we will have the mental strength to do that.”
Meanwhile, Roberto Martinez was looking at the advantage Wigan’s fans can give him at the DW saying:
“We need to hit our best form and that is our focus. It is a big difference to play at the DW Stadium at this final time of the season where the whole environment is more intense and gives the players that extra yard and we need to take advantage of that.”
So as the match draws near, it’s time for me to sign off, but not without the usual reminders that I will be back to post the team sheets when they are available, as well as links to watch the match online for those of you who haven’t sold your souls to Rupert Murdoch and his mighty Death Star of evil. As well as this, I will also be posting all the match highlights, post match interviews and even a video of the whole game so stay tuned!
Howay the lads!
Wigan Athletic (3-4-3): Joel Robles (G), Antolin Alcaraz, Paul Scharner, Maynor Figueroa; Emmerson Boyce (C), Jordi Gomez, James McCarthy, Jean Beausejour, Callum McManaman, Arouna Kone, Shaun Maloney.
Substitutes: Ali Al Habsi (G), Ronnie Stam, Roman Golobart, Gary Caldwell, James McArthur, Franco Di Santo, Angelo Henriquez.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot (G), Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez (C), Sylvain Marveaux, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Papiss Cisse.
Subs: Steve Harper (G), Massadio Haidara, James Perch, Vurnon Anita, Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Shola Ameobi.