And so to April….after what seemed an endless stop/start period, Wigan Athletic now face eight games on eight consecutive weekends which will determine the team’s fate. There seems to be a lot of positivity knocking around, boosted by Maynor Figueroa’s late winner against Birmingham the week before last, that Latics can somehow pull the points out of the bag necessary to stay up.
The team always seem to be teetering on that thin line between disaster and glory and our last game was testimony to it as first Birmingham scored (with three players offside) and then we won it at the last in dramatic fashion. It has turned the fans’ mood into a more upbeat manner but I can’t be the only one having sleepless nights going through the permutations on the BBC website’s end of season predictor.
It’s so tight at the minute that, yes Wigan Athletic might be bottom but eight places up the table, Blackburn in 13th are a mere three points away on thirty-three. There are no easy games ahead, we can say that with some assurance but there are 15 points at stake in April and a further 9 to be snatched at in the following month. Of course the ultimate question which needs answering is, how many points will be required in total to ensure we are 17th or higher come the end of May?
The historical smart money has always been on 40 points being the magic number to guarantee safety, but with so many teams bunched up together and no-one cut adrift, this undoubtedly raises the bar and we might be in a situation where a more high end expectation of 42 points are required. Whilst I’m in a stats mood, it’s worth pointing out that in the 2002/03 season West Ham still went down despite having 42 points in the bag so even that might not be enough. Ouch!
To continue the boring statistical theme, Wigan Athletic have averaged a point a game all season, indeed since Roberto Martinez has been at the club and this is an average that I suspect must be improved upon over the next eight games if we are to retain our place amongst the big boys as 38 points is surely looking like it’s not good enough.
On the positive side, of the eight games to come, there is only Chelsea away which looks like an impossible task and with several of the remaining games coming against relegation rivals, the six pointers will be must wins. We may still be looking at needing four wins from seven games then, or three wins and two draws, or two wins and six draws from eight. Looking a bit grim again isn’t it?
Let’s return to the old adage of concentrating on the next game then! It’s Tottenham at home this weekend and whereas a large slice of revenge was extracted at White Hart Lane earlier this season for events of last season, would it be in the realms of fantasy to suggest that we could do the double over them by taking another three points? I mean that was a VERY HEAVY defeat they inflicted upon us last season and I still can’t even say the number, so surely the karma hasn’t quite been levelled up yet and we need to steal another three points off them? That’s only fair isn’t it?
The other factor quite a few Latics fans seem to be pointing towards to swing things in our favour is that Spurs might have one eye on their trip to the Bernabeu to play Real Madrid on Tuesday week. This may well be true but of course the very fact that they are in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League playing Real Madrid implies that they might be a little bit tasty at this football lark and with a scary amount of quality throughout their team they don’t necessarily have to be playing at full pelt to beat us.
So I’m no wiser as to whether my glass is half full, half empty or whether I even still have a glass at all but I’m still looking forward to the conclusion of the season with a surreal mix of resignation and optimism. Like many other Latics fans, I’ve made a resolution to enjoy the rest of the season come what may whether we sink like a stone or pull through miraculously. Starting with Saturday!
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