However, Newcastle first must concentrate on what they do, as any talk of Chelsea’s performance could be irrelevant if fortunes begin to change. NUFC are the form team of the Premier League currently, but on Saturday they come up against a Wigan side buoyant by recent victories over Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal.
In the last 6 between the two, they have 2 wins each, 2 draws and 7 goals apiece. NUFC are unbeaten in the last 3 against The Latics, winning the last 2 games 1-0; a thunderous strike by the recently rejuvenated Yohan Cabaye winning the game at SJP earlier this season.
Some 13 places and 28 points separate the two and NUFC go in search of their 7th win on the bounce; they’ve only ever achieved that once in Premier League history (1996). Newcastle have been winning at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 6 games, keeping 4 clean sheets in their last 4.
Wigan in the Premier League:
Only Swansea (6.1) win fewer aerial duels per game on average than Wigan – 7.7.
The Latics make the most fouls per game in the entire league per game – 12.6.
Only 3 teams are currently caught offside fewer times per game on average than Wigan (1.8). For NUFC, its 2.5.
Only Stoke City (11) have scored fewer goals from open play in the Premier League this season than Wigan Athletic – 17.
Wigan produce the same amount of crosses per game on average as Newcastle United (20) but they manufacture the fewest through balls per game in the whole division – 1.
Wigan attack primarily from the right hand side – no team in the top flight presently has a higher percentage of initiated attacks from that side than them (42%).
Because of this, they have produced the highest percentage of shots from that side in the Premier League (26%), but the lowest from central areas (57%).
Therefore, their percentage of attacks from the left hand side is at detriment; only Blackburn (28%) have a lower value – 31%.
Finally, only QPR (54%) have produced a higher percentage of shots from outside the 18 yard box than Wigan this season – 51%.
Victor Moses – The one-time NUFC target has created most chances for Wigan this season (40), the majority of which have come from open play (35). He has created the most clear cut chances at the club (5) and by a ‘country mile’ is the club’s top dribbler – with 199 attempted dribbles, he is 117 ahead of second placed Mohamed Diamé.
Moses also wins possession more than any other Latics player in the attacking third and has had more shots at goal than any of his team-mates this season (89), although only has 4 goals to show for it, 1 less than top scorers Gomez and Di Santo.
Maynor Figueroa – Although a regular full-back now, the Honduran is Wigan’s main ‘string-puller’, producing more total passes than any other Wigan player this season, but also most passes in the attacking half and final third. He’s had more touches than any other player at the club and wins possession in the defensive third the most.
How to win this one:
Wigan have had a very upbeat time of late, winning 4 of their last 6 matches. But, they aren’t languishing near the bottom for no reason. Nobody has scored more than 5 Premier League goals for them this season and they face a Newcastle side who are top of the form chart and have only let in 1 goal in the last 6 games.
A strong defensive performance against a team who will look to play through the middle as well as down the left, and run the ball frequently, should see NUFC through this one, as they are sure to score!
Looking at the average play positions for Wigan’s last 6 Premier League games, weakness can be found at Figueroa’s left back position and the area between him and the centre half. Because he plays so attackingly, Wigan afford space on that side of the pitch and NUFC’s quick counter play can exploit that area in particular.
Because of this, Hatem Ben Arfa may well be the key player. If he can utilise his possession on that right side to full effect, especially when Figueroa is caught out of position, and deliver good service to Ba & Cisse, Newcastle can keep their fantastic run going!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 0-1