Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Tuesday January 25 2011
Wigan Athletic take on Aston Villa tonight in a Premier League clash that carries massive importance to both clubs.
With Villa making the big money signing of Darren Bent suddenly they appear to be the darlings of the media who are now proclaiming that Houlliers men have turned the corner. But have they?
Sure they beat title contenders Manchester City at the weekend and it was that man Bent who marked his debut with the only goal of the game to earn Villa the points, by all accounts though, City should have strolled the game and the chink of light that victory gave to Villa is just that.
Wigan Athletic simply don`t win enough games, just four victories all season is the reason why Martinez finds his team in the bottom three. If the Latics are to preserve their Premier League status for a seventh season then they need to find victories from draws.
Games against Newcastle, Bolton, Stoke, Liverpool, Sunderland and Fulham have seen points dropped when the games simply needed 'killing off`. There lies another problem. 19 goals in 23 gamesis a very poor return and a major factor of Latics struggles at the moment.
Chances are created but not converted, maybe too much reliance is placed on the shoulders of Hugo Rodallega, the Colombian has 5 league goals so far this season but he is the only striker at the club to have scored in the league and this burden needs to be shared.
Mauro Boselli has been sent out on loan and Franco Di Santo has just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off. Maybe a dip into the transfer market is necessary.
In fairness to Martinez he has suffered from the loss of key players at crucial stages this season. James McCarthy was enjoying great form when he suffered ankle ligament damage back in early October, the young Scot`s absence has been a massive blow, his drive, energy and quality in the midfield simply not replaced by those who have come in to cover for him.
Add to McCarthy, Gary Caldwell, Di Santo, Boyce, Moses and Cleverley on long term sick leave, plus both Rodallega and N`Zogbia suffering three match suspensions at various stages, Latics squad simply doesn`t have the depth to cope.
This week news that McCarthy and Moses look set to follow Boyce and Di Santo in returning to the first team, but they will all need to find their form again quickly. The upcoming games against Villa, West Brom and Blackburn need to be won, nine points from these would catapult the Latics up the table and ease the pressure.
If relegation is to be avoided wins need to be achieved and tonight is a good time to start.
Latics and Proud
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Date:Tuesday January 25 2011
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