Newcastle head to Lancashire tomorrow afternoon where they will do battle with a resurgent Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
Both sides have something to play for as the final few games of the season roll into view. Wigan are still too close to the relegation zone for their liking and will be looking for a result to help pull them away from the mire, meanwhile Newcastle have Champions League aspirations now and will be looking for three points and a chance to consolidate 4th place in the table for another week.
To be honest that should be all the motivation we need to beat a Wigan side who sit one place above the drop zone. However they have beaten the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal in recent weeks and have picked up 12 points from the last 18 available. It won’t be easy and I’m expecting a tough game regardless of our own impressive form.
Franco Di Santo is doubtful with a calf problem while Ronnie Stam is likely to miss out thanks to a hamstring injury.
However Roberto Martinez will be boosted by the news that Hugo Rodallega could feature after a seven week absence while Albert Crusat is also back in contention and could feature.
The good news is that there is no new news with regard to injuries for United. Steven Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands and Haris Vuckic are all still sidelined and are unlikely to play again this season. Gabriel Obertan, Danny Guthrie, Steve Harper and Sylvain Marveaux are back in training however none of them are expected to start tomorrow.
Newcastle have only ever won once at the DW Stadium, or JJB Stadium as it was previously known, and that was last season when Shola Ameobi scored the winner. Prior to that we suffered five one goal defeats (four 1-0 and one 2-1) on the spin although one of those came in a League Cup encounter back in 2005.
Overall the record between the two sides is remarkably tight. There have been 14 meetings between the two sides in all competitions. Newcastle have won six, Wigan have won five with three draws. As far as goals scored. Wigan have scored 16 goals to our 18 so it’s even close on that front!
Tactics and team selection
I would suggest that we are going to see an unchanged side from the victory over Stoke. The players have had a week to recover now so tiredness shouldn’t be an issue, and the results with this 4-3-3/4-5-1/4-2-3-1 or whatever formation have spoken for themselves.
Wigan don’t score many goals and tend to win by the odd goal – five of their last six wins have been by one goal. They’ve only kept five clean sheets this season aswell so there is an argument to suggest that we’ll find the back of the net at some point.
They do like to play the ball about a bit though and have hit a bit of form in recent weeks, but they aren’t unbeatable and we will present our own threat in terms of attack. We haven’t been too shabby at the back either recently so Wigan will have to do well to break us down.
Match stats and facts
Newcastle have won the last two games against Wigan, with both games ending 1-0 to the Magpies.
Tim Krul has not conceded a goal in 398 minutes.
Papiss Cisse is looking to score in seven consecutive games – the first Newcastle player to do so since Alan Shearer. The record is held by Ruud van Nistelrooy who scored in ten consecutive games back in 2003.
Wigan are chasing a third successive home win while Newcastle are aiming for a third successive away victory – something the Magpies haven’t achieved since 2001.
I’ll probably get stick for saying this, but I honestly believe tomorrow will be a tough game and have a horrible feeling about it. Yes we’ve been in great form, but it won’t last forever and we’ll lose at some point. I just hope that tomorrow isn’t the day.
However a positive result will go down rather nicely and will help us in our quest for Europe, especially when you look at the other fixtures this weekend – Chelsea play Tottenham while Arsenal travel to Stoke. It gives us a real chance to put some distance between us and the chasing teams and maybe even apply some pressure on those above us.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 28th April, 2012
Venue: DW Stadium