Newcastle head to Wigan this afternoon knowing that victory over the Latics would see us take a huge step towards Premier League safety.
Also on offer is the chance to end the afternoon sitting in the top half of the table, but with Wigan scrapping for their lives it’s not going to be an easy game.
Roberto Martinez will today be looking up at Aston Villa and will be wanting three points to stop his side from being cut off in the relegation spaces. Recent results have shown that his team are capable of getting themselves out of trouble and recent history suggests that they may do just that having managed to escape relegation in previous seasons. They know what they need to do and they know how to do it.
Ivan Ramis, Mike Pollitt, Albert Crusat, Ben Watson and Ryo Miyaichi are all on the injury list and are unavailable for Roberto Martinez. Callum McManaman is doubtful after picking up an ankle injury in the FA Cup tie against Everton last weekend.
Hatem Ben Arfa has been ruled out for the remainder of the season as he looks to get his hamstring injury sorted. Yohan Cabaye is doubtful after picking up a groin strain in the victory over FC Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday. Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic are all missing for the Magpies.
Newcastle beat Wigan 3-0 at St James’ Park earlier on in the season and go looking for their first ever league double over the Latics. To achieve that they will have to win at a ground where we have been notoriously poor ever since Wigan joined the Premier League. Of seven encounters at the DW Stadium (formerly the JJB Stadium), United have won just once, back in 2011 with Shola Ameobi scoring the winner. The other six times we’ve tasted defeat at Wigan with the 4-0 defeat last term being our heaviest.
Overall there have been just 14 matches contested between the two sides with the record being split down the middle. United have won on six occasions, as have Wigan, with the other two meetings ending in a draw. Both teams have managed to find the back of the opposition net 16 times highlighting how similar our record against each other actually is.
Stats and facts:
Wigan have the worst home record in the entire football league. They’ve won just two games at home this season picking up a total of ten points along the way. Wigan have also failed to keep a clean sheet at home all season and have conceded a league-high 31 goals at home this term.
Paul Scharner could make his 150th appearance for Wigan today.
Mike Williamson could make his 100th appearance for United today.
United have the second worst away record in the league having amassed just eight points (one win, five draws) on the road all season.
With Manchester City to play next week I dare say we really need to pick up three points today if we are to avoid being sucked deeper into the relegation mix. The carrot of beating a team that can catch us up and the chance to be able to sit in the top-half of the table this evening should be motivation enough.
However it’s that last part that worries me – motivation. Wigan have been awful for the vast majority of the season but this is the kind of game we always struggle in. Time and time again we put in fantastic performances against the “bigger” teams in the league and usually end up with nothing to show for our efforts, but against teams we should be beating we seem to only give it half our effort which annoys the hell out of me.
There are no easy games in this league and I take nothing for granted, but with games running out and points to be had Wigan will be up for this. We need to match them in those stakes and then hopefully our quality will shine through and we can gain a positive result out of the game. I have a bad feeling about it though…
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 17th March, 2013
Time: 4pm – Live on Sky Sports 1
Venue: DW Stadium