Roberto Martinez takes his Latics side 40 miles down the M6 to face Tony Pulis` Stoke City team that have turned the Britannia Stadium into something of a stronghold with just one home defeat all season.
The Latics form so far this season has been erratic to say the least and that was shown last weekend when an excellent first half display was followed by a weak first 30 minutes of the second half which saw the game effectively killed off by Birmingham with 3 goals in 20 minutes.
The Latics will need to be strong throughout today and a performance similar to the one shown at Turf Moor against Burnley in October is called for but with midfield anchorman Hendry Thomas suspended some extra steel needs to be found from somewhere.
If has expected Jordi Gomez comes into the starting eleven then no doubt Paul Scharner will drop to sit in front of the back four in Thomas` role, a more disciplined performance will be demanded on the Austrian as he will be providing the cover for the defence and his foray`s forward will need to be limited today.
I am hoping that Gomez can carry on from where he left off last week; he had 15 minutes at the end of the game, scored a cracking goal and brought an urgency to the Latics that they had been missing, more of the same today please Jordi.
Stoke have suffered a bit from a drop in form of late with just one win in their last six games that being a 1-0 home victory against Portsmouth which saw Paul Hart sacked, a game according to reports that Pompey were the better team in, so maybe there is hope for the Latics this afternoon.
What The Bosses Say:
Latics boss Roberto Martinez
‘Stoke have got quality in their ranks and a good mix of experience and know-how
‘In the likes of Matthew Etherington, Ricardo Fuller and Mamady Sidibe they have some flair players who add to their blend. It’s no secret why they’ve done so well over the previous seasons because they’ve found a winning formula and they go about that plan very well.
‘When you look at their position in the league and their ability to cope against almost any team it speaks volumes of the work that has been done at the club.”
Stoke boss Tony Pulis
‘Contrary to reports, James Beatie has been coming in this week, but he had a small injection on Tuesday, so he has been given a couple of days off to recover. If he’s fit though, he’ll be involved in the team or the squad on Saturday.
‘My whole focus since Monday has been on the Wigan game, because believe me it is a massive game for us and it’s very important that we get the right result.’
Stoke City Team News:
Beatie is a doubt but Shawcross returns
Sorensen, Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Collins, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Lawrence, Fuller, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Diao, Sidibe, Beattie, Sanli, Pugh, Higginbotham, Cort, Simonsen.
Player to watch: Ricardo Fuller
Big awkward centre forward with an eye for goal
Wigan Athletic Team News:
Hendry Thomas is suspended and expect Jordi Gomez to come in for his first start since September.
Chris Kirkland is rated very doubtful so Mike Pollitt should start with Richard Kingson on the bench.
Pollitt, Bramble, Scharner, Melchiot, Boyce, Figueroa, N’Zogbia, Diame, Gomez, Scotland, Rodallega.
Player to watch: Jason Scotland
This is the type of game that just might suit Scotland and I am predicting that he will get his first goal of the seaon today
Latics and Stoke have played each other 21 times in all competitions
Stoke have won 10, Latics 5, draws 6
Last Five Meetings
16/05/09 – Premier League – Stoke 2 Latics 0
08/11/08 – Premier League – Latics 0 Stoke 0
05/02/05 – Championship – Latics 0 Stoke 1
02/11/04 – Championship – Stoke 0 Latics 1
21/02/04 – Championsgip – Stoke 1 Latics 1
Mike Dean (Wirral)
Meet the ref article click here
Heart says 1-1
Head says 1-1, so 1-1 be it
Liverpool Vs Latics
Wednesday 16/12/09 8pm
Latics Vs Bolton
Monday 21/12/09 8pm