Wigan Athletic have nine games left in which to secure a seventh successive top flight season.
Four of these games are at home, and put in the simplest terms possible all of them have got to result in victory, starting with Saturdays crucial ‘six pointer’ with relegation rivals Birmingham City.
Latics sit rock bottom of the Premier League and defeat against the Carling Cup champions will almost certainly confine Roberto Martinez’s young team to the Championship next season. A victory for City, who sit fourth from bottom of the League, would put them SEVEN points ahead of Latics and at this stage of the season that is an awful lot of points to recover.
More worrying for the Latics faithful is the fact that the Blues have won just once in their previous 11 games and that situation has got to change. Latics prepared for this game with a training camp in La Mange last week and a behind closed doors friendly against Malmo at Christopher Park on Saturday. Martinez used the game to play all of his current squad for at least 45 minutes and declared himself pleased, despite a 1-3 beating.
Although this game looks difficult on paper, Birmingham City don’t come into this game with a record to frighten the hosts. City have scored just thirteen goals from open play all season and do tend to struggle against the teams in and around the relegation mix.
Martinez has no fresh injury worries and is boosted by the possible return to the right back berth of Emmerson Boyce. There may be a slight change up front as Conor Sammon seems to have impressed enough last time out against Manchester City, to stake a claim in the starting eleven.
Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is reportedly set to bring back Roger Johnson for this crucial clash whilst Curtis Davies is also hoping to benefit from the absence of Martin Jiranek.
Saturday’s game is unlikely to be a classic, but with home advantage and an away draw at St Andrews this season already in the bag, the omens look good for Latics to finally get back to winning ways.
TEAM NEWS LATER
History of this fixture,
29/07/1978 – Pre Season Friendly – (H) – 0-0
Brown, Smart, Hinnigan. Wright, Ward, Gillibrand, Corrigan, Gore, Houghton, Wilkie, Purdie
01/12/1989 – Division Three – (H) – 1-0 – (Tony Ward) – 2,600
Hughes, Senior, Tankard, Ward, Atherton, Patterson, Carberry, (Johnson), Rimmer, Pilling, Daley, Griffiths, (Page)
22/11/1990 – Division Three – (H) – 1-1 – (Don Page) – 3,907
Adkins, Parkinson, Tankard, Atherton, Patterson, Johnson, Woods, Rimmer, Daley, Page, Griffiths B
17/02/1990 – Division Three – (A) – 0-0 – 5,473
Hughes, Senior, Tankard, Parkinson, Atherton, Johnson, Thompson, Rimmer, Pilling, Daley, Carberry, (Patterson)
(Playing for Birmingham City was ex Latic Kevin Langley)
05/02/1991 – Division Three – (A) – 0-0 – 5,319
Hughes, Patterson, Tankard, Atherton, Johnson, Langley, Griffiths I, Rimmer, Daley, Hildersley, Jones, Griffiths B, (Pilling)
19/10/1991 – Division Three – (A) – 3-3 – (Phil Daley 2, Phil Jones) – 9,662
Adkins, Smyth, (Appleton), Tankard, Johnson, Williams, Langley, Powell, Connelly, Daley, Jones, Griffiths, (Edwardson)
(Debuts for John Williams and Barry Edwardson)
28/04/1992 – Division Three – (H) – 3-0 – (Gary Worthington 2, Andy Pilling) – 5,950
Adkins, Parkinson, Tankard, Johnson, Skipper, Langley, Doolan, Pilling, Daley, Worthington, Patterson
(Debut for John Doolan)
02/01/2006 – The Premiership – (A) – 0-2 – 29,189
Pollitt, Chimbonda, Henchoz, De Zeeuw, Wright, Bullard, (Kavanagh, 73), Francis, Skoko, (Teale, 45), McCulloch, (Connolly, 71), Camara, Roberts
(Playing for Birmingham City were future Latics Mario Melchiot and Emile Heskey)
08/04/2006 – The Premiership – (H) – 1-1 – (Andreas Johansson) – 18,669
Filan, Chimbonda, Scharner, De Zeeuw, Baines, (Ziegler 42), Teale, Kavanagh, Bullard, McCulloch, Roberts, Johansson, (Camara 79)
(Playing for Birmingham City was future Latic Emile Heskey)
27/10/2007 – The Premier League – (A) – 2-3 – (Marcus Bent 2) – 27.661
Kirkland, Melchiot, Granqvist, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Koumas, Sibierski, (Aghahowa, 84 ), Bent
(Future Latics Daniel de Ridder, Wilson Palacios and Olivier Kapo, who scored twice, played for Birmingham City. Birmingham’s unused substitute was future Latic Richard Kingson)
05/04/2008 – The Premier League – (H) – 2-0 – (Ryan Taylor 2) – 17,926
Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Boyce, Kilbane. Valencia, Skoko, (Figueroa 90), Palacios, Taylor, (Sibierski 85), Heskey, (King 88), Bent
(Debut for Maynor Figueroa)
05/12/2009 – The Premier League – (H) – 2-3 – (Charles N’Zogbia, Jordi Gomez) – 18,797
Kirkland, (Pollitt 24), Melchiot, Boyce, (Gomez 77), Bramble, Figueroa, N’Zogbia, Thomas, Diame, (Sinclair 70), Scotland, Scharner, Rodallega
27/02/2010 – The Premier League – (A) – 0-1 – 25,921
Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Caldwell, Figueroa, N’Zogbia, (Moses 45), Diame, McCarthy, )Gomez 85), Thomas, Rodallega
25/09/2010 – The Premier League – (A) – 0-0 – 22,186
Al-Habsi, Stam (Di Santo 60), (Moses 89), Alcaraz, Boyce, Figueroa, N’Zogbia, Thomas, Diame, McCarthy, Watson, Rodallega
Wigan Athletic/Birmingham City links,
Peter Atherton, Marcus Bent, Keith Bertschin, Eric Black, Mark Bowen (a/man), Bill Bradbury, Steve Bruce, Mark Burchill, Terry Cooke, Steve Cooper, Daniel De Ridder, Nicky Eaden, George Eastham (war time guest for City), Richard Edghill, Archie Gemmill, Ted Goodier, Emile Heskey, Geoff Horsfield, Matt Jackson, Leigh Jenkinson, Olivier Kapo, Jeff Kenna, Richard Kingson, Kevin Langley, Andy Marriott, Mario Melchiot, Mike Newell, Wilson Palacios, James Parle, Bruce Rioch, Andy Saville, Scott Sinclair, Danny Sonner, Nigel Spink, Stuart Storer, Mark Ward,
Other Wigan/Birmingham links,
Frank Hodges, James Mittle, Alfred Oakes, Albert Smith and Arthur Phoenix played for Birmingham City and Wigan Borough.
Frank Hodges also played for Birmingham City Gas
The photograph of action at this seasons reverse fixture at St Andrews is used courtesy of Bervard Platt and Wigan Athletic FC)
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