Steve Bruce takes his Wigan Athletic side the 19 miles down the East Lancashire Road to face Everton in a battle for Europa League places next season.
The big talking point in the Latics camp this week has been the failure of Egypt international Amr Zaki to return from duty with his country but don`t let that make you think Bruce has been distracted from the task in hand, doing the double over Everton and gaining another impressive three points.
Bruce has a near to full strength squad to choose from and he is expected to go 4-5-1 in what is a very fluid formation that the Latics adopt, Mido leading the line, supported from midfield by Paul Scharner and down the flanks by N`Zogbia and Valencia, this system quickly turns in to 4-2-4.
Bruce employed his favoured tactic to great fruition at Sunderland in the Latics last away game and another similar performance today will see the Latics move back in to 7th spot (temporarily lost to West Ham) and put pressure on the 6th placed Evertonians by reducing the points gap down to 4.
It looks like Cho Won-hee will have to wait to make his Latics debut and a place on the bench is the best the South Korea international will get, one player though certain of a start is Latics left back Maynor Figueroa who is the only player to start every league game this season for the Latics.
Talking of left backs it was nice to see old Latics boy and current Everton left back Leighton Baines finally make the England squad last week, well done Bainesy here`s hoping you have a stinker today
What the bosses say:
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
‘It is important now that the season doesn’t just drift away.
‘The first challenge was to break the 40-point barrier and we now have to try to end the season on a high.’
Latics assisstant boss Eric Black:
‘It is going to be hard going there.
‘Everton are an exceptionally well organised team and they get a lot of goals from set-pieces and they have great support and are very physical.
‘They are a top five or six team and they are there on merit so it will be hard, but we will have to try to frustrate them and stay in the game for as long as possible.’
Everton boss David Moyes:
‘Arsenal are seven points ahead of us so that is quite a gap.
‘But they still have Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to play.
‘I want a last push. That means getting to the FA Cup final, hanging in there in the league and qualifying for Europe because that is a big thing to do.’
‘Having said that I’m not daft enough not to know that Wigan are on our tails.
‘We are their next opponents and they will be saying if we can beat Everton we can get closer to them.
‘Steve Bruce has got a really good side there; they are hard-working and competitive and it will be a tough game for us.
‘It is no surprise with the squad they have got they are doing so well. They are not conceding many goals and have been hard to beat.
‘They are a good team and they have one or two exceptional individuals and because of that it gives them that little bit where they can work hard not to lose but also have one or two players who can win them games.’
Everton Team News:
Tim Cahill and Tim Howard are both concerns for Moyes, Arteta is a long term casualty.
Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Pienaar, Osman, Cahill, Fellaini, Saha, Jo, Rodwell, Baxter, Nash, Castillo, Jacobsen, Gosling, Wallace, Van der Meyde.
Player to watch: Julian Lescott
Excellent defender and a threat at the other end as well
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Amr Zaki is injured and still in Egypt whilst Jason Koumas has returned from international duty with a sore hip and will miss out.
Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, Watson, Brown, Scharner, Kapo, Valencia, N’Zogbia, De Ridder, Rodallega, Mido, Kingson, Pollitt, Edman, Cho.
Player to watch: Charles N’Zogbia
Settling in now at the Latics, his pace is electric and as we saw at Sunderland, Charlie has an eye for goal
Everton 2-1 Wigan Athletic
11th August 2007
Referee Mark Clattenburg
Total League Games
Everton 3 wins, Latics 2, Draws 2
Phil Dowd (Stoke)
Games – 22
Yellows – 67
Reds – 4
Heart says 0-1 Latics win
Head says 0-0
Latics Vs Arsenal
Saturday 11/04/09 3pm