By Giuseppe Muro
After away wins over Tottenham and Newcastle, it’s another Premier League team for Arsène Wenger’s side at the Quarter-Final stage of the Carling Cup
Despite the easy on the eye football Wigan play under Roberto Martinez, the Latics currently find themselves in the relegation zone after defeat against West Ham on Saturday.
But how dangerous are they in a cup tie with nothing to lose? We spoke to Paul Kendrick of the Wigan Observer to get a Wigan perspective on tonight’s game.
THE STORY SO FAR
In the first two games of the season against Blackpool and Chelsea they conceded ten goals without scoring a goal. It was the worst start imaginable but things have picked up quite well since then. There was a win at Tottenham and although results haven’t suggested they have turned the corner, their performances have. They were pretty poor against West Ham on Saturday but before that they played well against Manchester United, well against Manchester City and deserved to beat Liverpool.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
Roberto Martinez has got great support from the fans. He was a legend here during his time as a player just over a decade ago. That has given him a slightly longer honeymoon period than an ordinary manager would have got. Another thing in his favour is that he is very close to chairman Dave Whelan who actually signed him for the club in 1995. Whelan has stated that even if Wigan go down Martinez’s job wouldn’t be under threat. So the fans and the chairman are right behind him.
He doesn’t know any other way [than to play attractive football]. He’s not the kind of manager who will go route one just to get results. He’s always stressing the importance of performances over results and if you look after your performances the results will look after themselves. He will be looking forward to the opportunity of going up against a fellow advocate of good football. There is no danger that Martinez will resort to anything else other than his usual brand of attacking football.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Their confidence will have taken a dent [after the 3-1 defeat against West Ham]. Wigan didn’t compete to be honest, they were OK for the first 20 minutes but after that West Ham increased in confidence and Wigan couldn’t match it. It’s very worrying that a poor team like West Ham can be allowed to score three goals so easily. I can’t imagine the squad is in very high spirits coming into the game tomorrow. But it’s a different competition and it’s a good way to take their mind off the fact that they are in the relegation zone. They have got previous for getting through Carling Cup games at Arsenal so I think they will take it as a welcome distraction.
THE ONE TO WATCH
Unfortunately, Hugo Rodallega is suspended after getting sent off last week against Manchester United. So I imagine most of the attacking impetus is on Charles N’Zogbia. He is responsible for the chunk of Wigan’s creativity this season and when he’s on song Wigan are generally on song. I would expect most of the danger to come from him.
The Stoke game [this weekend] is certainly a more important game [for Wigan]. If you were to offer Martinez a win against Arsenal or three points against Stoke he would have the three points. He’s picked a relatively strong team for each round of the competition. The fringe players he has brought in, the likes of Victor Moses and Ben Watson, have really excelled. I think we will see four or five changes but the players coming in are regognised players at this level, he doesn’t field kids who haven’t played before. He will think that the team he puts out will be good enough to do a job.