ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Wigan Athletic
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Wigan Athletic
Posted by Ned Brown on 04/19/2012

There are no two ways about it — Fulham are a pain in the neck. The last time we beat them was in 2006. They signed Clint Dempsey the following year, and he has feasted on us since. It’s not a case of outplaying or outclassing us, it’s just that no matter the manager from Hodgson to Hughes to Jol, their keeper always has a man-of-the-match performance, and their striker — usually the Texan — can’t miss.

Present circumstances promise for this to be quite an interesting iteration. Wigan are in dreamland, having produced their best every Premier League displays to earn wins over Liverpool, Stoke, Manchester United and Arsenal in their last five games. Fulham meanwhile, are about where you would expect them to be, playing well at home, dropping points on the road, but doing it with a pleasant continental style Martin Jol has brought to Craven Cottage. While classy Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz is out with a broken metatarsal and both Andrew Johnson and Pavel Pogrebnyak are doubtful with injuries, Clint Dempsey is enjoying his best ever season with 21 goals to his name and will likely start up front. Which could be trouble.

Hugo Rodallega and Shaun Maloney should be fit to make their comebacks, which should prove timely boosts given the exhausting fixture list Latics have just come through against the traditional top four and the most physical side in the league, Stoke City. Roberto said last year that one of the keys to the club’s survival run was their youth and endurance when the going got tough. The midfield engines of the Jimmy Macs and attacking outlets Victor Moses and Franco Di Santo have certainly provided evidence to that claim.

One would expect Roberto to name an unchanged lineup after the away day heroics at the Emirates. If he does, a bench involving people like Mo Diame, Shaun Maloney, Ronnie Stam, Ben Watson and Hugo Rodallega must surely go down as the strongest in the club’s history. Albert Crusat would be there too if he hadn’t suffered an injury in training before the Arsenal match.

But it’s a difficult one to call, this one. The amazing results against United and Arsenal have eased the pressure on this game, and although the players and manager are all saying the right things about maintaining the same level of intensity, it is hard to imagine that being possible against Fulham, away. But our Wigan heroes have done nothing if not earn the benefit of the doubt from us, their supporters. Long may this glorious form continue.

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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Posted by okl on 04/20/2012

40pts, 40pts, 40pts.

Anything less than that is a severe underachievement!

After the recent run of results, we'll need to see if it got to the players' heads... can't let them forget about their horrendous performances in the first 2/3 of the season and how it got Wigan where they are today!

Posted by Mike on 04/20/2012

I don't know why but every year I quietly root for Wigan to beat the drop. I can't figure it out, I have no affinity for them, but maybe because the media always give them no chance and I think it's a humble club, w/ humble players giving an honest effort and opportunities to under the radar players from more under the radar countries. good luck!

Posted by KAVAN on 04/20/2012

I agree with the sentiments of Mike. I quietly cheer for them every year. Even though I was pissed they beat United a couple weeks back. Hopefully they continue their amazing form and beat the drop. It has been fun to watch!

Posted by Rudi on 04/20/2012

yeah, I want to see 40pts for us as well!

I kind of can't believe that Moses won't sign another contract? He is not the finished article yet and I could see him leave (like valencia) after another season..... but this forces us into an early sale again.

What I would give for a start of the season where we actually keep our squad together... every year the same thing happens: new players have to learn how to play together, they hit a purple patch towards the end, move on and then slump at their new clubs (valencia being the possible exception).

But.... this Fulham game is really important!

Posted by kay on 04/20/2012

I also usually tip wigan every singular season.they will beat the drop

Posted by okl on 04/21/2012

sigh... looking back, if only those draws against Norwich and WBA were converted into wins; how different things would've been.

Newcastle next; looks like they're fighting for UCL, so it'll be another tough game. I'd say this game is much tougher than the Arsenal or Chelsea game; Newcastle are a team high in spirits and good in form.

The game against Blackburn is looking like a real 6 pointer... i'd say most would agree that the loser of that game is likely to drop.

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