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Wigan Athletic
Posted by Ned Brown on 04/16/2012

Wigan Athletic travel to Arsenal on Monday on a euphoric high after two performances that have confounded their critics. There have been many among the Wigan Athletic faithful who have doubted the capability within Roberto Martinez's squad. There was talk of several players not being up to Premier League standard. The last two games have proved that this is not the case. The display against Chelsea was excellent, being robbed of a deserved win by two offside goals. Latics were the better team on the day - hard to believe they could reach such a level after the frustrating season we have been through.

* this post was contributed by Jakarta Jack, a regular contributor on Los Three Amigos Wigan.

Wigan Athletic were also the better team at the DW Stadium on Wednesday and their performance was such that Manchester United rarely looked like scoring. The quality of Latics' football in that game was way beyond anything we have seen from them before in the Premier League. The stats reveal Latics having 13 attempts on goal, Manchester United 9. Wigan Athletic had 55% of possession with 7 corners, compared with 3 from the visitors. Latics commited 8 fouls, United 14. One yellow card for Wigan two for United. As has become the Premier League norm when a little club plays a top four team, Latics had to deal with adverse refereeing decisions, which would have broken the backs of many teams. A rare headed goal from Victor Moses was disallowed by a linesman who focused on the protesting De Gea. Caldwell, stood in front of the Spaniard, did nothing against the rules but the goal was annulled. In the 60th minute Jonny Evans made a tackle that would have been a yellow card 99% of the time, but the referee decided it wasn't. Maybe his decision was influenced by the yellow card he had given the same player earlier? It is not the first time Evans has escaped like this against Latics.

We have an appalling away record against Arsenal. It has been a history largely of capitulation. Arsenal have won 8 of their last 9 games and are in 3rd place. Can Wigan Athletic summon up the psychological and physical fortitude to make a go of it on Monday?

The matches against Chelsea and Man U must have taken their toll. Moreover they are almost certainly going to have an unsympathetic referee and a hostile crowd of 65,000 to deal with. The referee will be Andre Mariner, who famously allowed that Blackburn goal to stand after Morten Gamst Pedersen ran the ball in from a corner. If the goal hadn’t stood, by the way, we would have a 6-point cushion over Blackburn — all the difference in the world. Let’s be fair though – it is not only Latics who have suffered from refereeing decisions – other teams near the bottom of the table have to deal with the same thing. But sometimes one irrationally thinks that the Premier League does not want unglamorous clubs like Wigan Athletic in its ranks.

However, relegation continues to threaten. A good result at Arsenal would be a fantastic boost – a walloping could set us back to where we were before. Worse still would be injuries or suspensions. During Roberto Martinez’s reign he has never been afforded the opportunity to play a settled team, particularly in defence. Alcaraz, Caldwell and Figueroa have been superb over the past few games – to lose one of them would throw a spanner in the works that we don’t need. The defensive cohesion of a back three used to playing together is paramount. I hate to say it, but a damage limitation approach if things go awry against Arsenal might be the way to go. Particularly given the favourable results of direct rivals Blackburn and QPR at the weekend.

On the team front it looks like Hugo Rodallega is going to miss out again through injury. Franco Di Santo was superb in his ball-holding skills against Man U but Rodallega remains the best goalscoring centre forward we have. Let’s hope he will be back soon. Having a settled team is a big plus for Latics. The question is whether they are going to have the collective energy and mental fortitude to make this an even contest. There were some severely tired legs towards the end of the Manchester United contest. We need to beware of the euphoria that has followed the defeat of the league champions, hope that we can continue with the positive approach that we have seen recently, but not be surprised if our players are not quite ready for a game against another top five team. Let’s hope for a good result against Arsenal but also look ahead at the remaining fixtures, which are more easily winnable. Let’s keep the faith!

For more, please check out the author's Wigan Athletic fan site Los Three Amigos, like them on Facebook, or follow them on twitter.

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Comments

Posted by okl on 04/16/2012

i think a draw would be a good enough result against arsenal, but you never know; the manner that arsenal played against QPR was a joke, it could happen easily again.

I've seen the interview where the reporter asked Steve Keen about Rover's chances; i couldnt see any confidence in the man's eyes- i think Rovers dont have the edge, especially after the liverpool game. regardless, i think that's a key fixture- a win at Ewood Park would go a long way.

be mindful of bolton; they have 2 games in hand!

one step at a time, keep the faith and be steady!

Fixtures:
Wigan---

Arsenal (A), Fulham (A), Newcastle (H), Blackburn (A), Wolves (H)

Bolton---
Swansea(H), A.Villa(A), Sunderland(A), Spurs(H), WBA(H), Stoke(A)

Blackburn---
Norwich(H), Spurs(A), Wigan(H), Chelsea(A)

QPR---
Spurs(H), Chelsea(A), Stoke(H), Man City(A)

Posted by Ned on 04/16/2012

Thanks for the comment Okl. I'd be thrilled with a draw today. Players must be exhausted after their exertions vs. Chelsea and United. Arsenal have been excellent at home.

I agree about Blackburn and Steve Kean. They look like a sinking ship and lets hope so.

I think we have to be hoping QPR, Blackburn and Wolves are the three to go down. QPR are a stronger side but their run-in is brutla. Bolton's fixtures do look the easiest of the four teams, as you point out.

Fingers crossed, we shall see...

No injuries or suspensions tonight please!

Posted by La Poderosa on 04/16/2012

Come on Wigan......You have all our support even from faaaaar Mauritius......

Posted by Brian on 04/16/2012

Martinez for Manager of the Year!

Posted by Joe From Pennsylvania on 04/16/2012

Wigan defeated Arsenal! Wow. I think if they get one more win they will avoid relegation. The last game of the year vs Wolves should be another three points. If they can get a point from Fulham then they are staying up for sure.

Posted by okl on 04/17/2012

holy mother! how about that!

2 wins in 3 games VS Chelsea, United and Arsenal!

Brilliant; keep this form up and wigan should be fine come May... however, like i said before- don't look at other teams right now, just focus on playing well!

still, a fantastic win deserves a night of celebrations... then its back to the training ground, so as not to get carried away!

remember, it's May we're interested, not the past and not now.

Posted by Michael on 04/17/2012

Ned, I just now saw this blog entry for the first time. I apologize, but I'm already euphoric!!! ;D Of course, safety is still a long ways from being assured, so I will resume my anxieties shortly!!! Thank you again for your hard work!!! :D

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