By Giuseppe Muro
An injury-plagued Wigan side rolled over at Emirates Stadium in the Carling Cup earlier this season.
But in the Premier League and in front of their home fans they will be a totally different proposition, won’t they? We spoke to Paul Kendrick of the Wigan Observer to get a Latics perspective on tonight’s game.
THE STORY SO FAR
They couldn’t have started any worse than they did with heavy defeats to Blackpool and Chelsea but since then performances haven’t been too bad. They haven’t got the results they have probably deserved. Roberto Martinez is often saying that the performances are encouraging, it’s just those small percentages that turn losses into draws and draws into wins. But they will be confident going into the game I would have thought.
CARLING CUP ENCOUNTER
It was a pretty depleted Wigan team that played in the Carling Cup. I know Roberto was very keen to try and go as far as they could in that competition but the injury situation before that game was awful. So many players were out and Victor Moses dislocated his shoulder during the game. It should be a far stronger team for the Arsenal game this time around and obviously Wigan are a lot better at home than they are on their travels. I’d expect it to be a very good game.
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
[The 3-2 win at the end of last season] was a very forgettable game for Arsenal but from Wigan’s point of view it was probably the finest hour in their ten years at DW Stadium. To come back from two goals down against one of the best teams in Europe was absolutely incredible and people are still talking about it. Most of that team are still here so, in terms of belief, if they’ve done it once they will certainly know they can do it again.
He doesn’t change too much at home to be honest. He tries to keep the same philosophy of keeping the ball as much as possible. Possession is everything. It’s not so much that they go for it at home and try to restrict the opposition on their travels, it just seems to work that way. They are unbeaten at home since September and only Manchester City have won there since the first week of the season. It has turned into a bit of a fortress and Arsenal will know from last year’s experience they will have to be on top form to get the win they will probably expect.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
There isn’t a Plan B at the moment. Martinez puts all his faith in possession football. He has been schooled on the Barcelona way of playing. Even when they are losing in the last ten minutes, as against Arsenal last year, they still try and play their football. As far as panic football goes, that doesn’t exist at Wigan.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
Hugo Rodallega is a big-game player. He got the winner at Tottenham earlier this season and has scored in the last two home games against Liverpool. He is a key player and is one of the players Arsenal have got to look out for. He does tend to turn it on against the big boys. I know he has been linked with Arsenal in the past and Arsenal will have to keep an eye on him. He will probably play out left in this game with Franco di Santo coming in up front. But Hugo is a danger whether he plays on the left or down the middle. He is definitely one to watch as far as the defence goes. He obviously stands out at Wigan but people will point out that they are a struggling Premier League team. He is learning all the time and remember he has been in England less than two years. When he first came he took quite a few games to get going but since then he has worked well on a very consistent basis. With better players around him maybe he could take that step up.