© AP Images
Two back to back defeats have seen us slide into the bottom six. With just one win from nine league games three points off Wigan are imperative to kick start our season.
The omens are good, even if recent performances have been patchy. We took four points off the side from the north west last season and you have to go back eight games to October 2006 for Wigan's last success against us - a 1-0 win at the Cottage thanks to Henri Camara's late breakaway goal at the Putney End.
Yet encounters between us are invariably tight and dour. Somehow Wigan keep performing miracles to stay afloat in the Prem. After being trounced on day one at home by Blackpool they bounced back to win at Spurs and are currently unbeaten in 5. The form book suggests this will be a far from easy game. Failure to secure a much needed win will leave Fulham fans starting to fret ahead of more difficult fixtures to come.
We need to draw a veil over the West Brom performance. With a number of absentees those stepping up to the first-team failed to perform and we lacked any appetite for the scrap. Mark may need to scale back his more adventurous inclinations and get the team to find ways of winning ugly. If current squad players are not seizing their chance to fight for a place might we start promoting some of our talented youngsters from the reserves? We'll never find out how good they are unless they get a shot.
Clint has a habit of scoring against Wigan. At present the lack of threat up front is causing me most concern. In the past six weeks both EJ and Kamara have shown to me they are not the answer. I don't hold out too much expectation either of Andy J returning as some miracle worker who is going to make an immediate impact. The image above incidentally shows Andy getting the 1st of his two goals to down Wigan in the 2008 fixture that brought up his 100th league goal. He scored one and created another in our reserves win midweek v Millwall.
Right now our front line need far more service from the flanks, while we are crying out for an offensive midfield dynamo - and of course, we lack a big target man for the rest to play off. Hughes clearly wants Santa Cruz in January.
I'll be interested to see Saturday's team selection and how we are set up. In our local West London paper Hughes admits he is looking to the January window to splash the cash, which tells you he sees the current team as very much a work in progress. "We want to be more pro-active in the next window, whereas when I came in so close to the new season I felt we had to be more reactive to the market," says the gaffer.
On a positive note we have sold out the game, not bad considering the opposition. It will be another full house next week too for Villa. Let's hope we've something to sing about - and build a cushion between ourselves and the bottom three before our trip to Stamford Bridge on November 10th. What a stage to secure our first away win in 15 months!