Rob's Prediction: West Brom V Wigan Athletic
Wigan lost to Aston Villa recently in a game which Villa, I have to say, I believe deserved to win but only by a small margin as Wigan put in a good effort, but ultimately, a slight shade in quality was what ultimately decided the match and also some poor decision making by Hendry Thomas. However, one plus was the return of James McCarthy who is a midfield dynamo and Franco Di Santo, who adds an extra option in the attacking department up front.
Victor Moses returned for Wigan Athletic today and it was great to hear how he terrorised Bolton with his performance and also how the 'kids' held Bolton, who more or less had a full complement out. It does show positive signs for the future and the majority of the first team had a good game today and Adrian Lopez must be a relieved man after his error almost let in Johan Elmander but fortunately he couldn't take the opportunity.
As Wigan contemplate a replay against Bolton, they must put that to the back of their minds for the time being and prepare for a visit to the struggling West Bromwich Albion, who have been in dire form of late. Their only scrap of good fortune was a win over Blackpool but their record over the Tangerines has been good. Since a storming start to the season in which West Brom beat Arsenal in their own backyard, they have faltered rather dramatically and this must be a concern to Roberto Di Matteo as he prepares himself, as does Roberto Martinez, for a relegation six-pointer in which neither side can afford to lose.
Wigan have performed quite admirably away from home and have picked up some creditable points, especially against Bolton, Tottenham and Everton, who are all fine sides as well as other sides who are also good teams. West Brom at home have been a mixed bag - they've performed well and also had a bit of a sour patch. They need to up the tempo to stay up but I think for Matteo, if they do survive, it'll be by the skin of their own teeth.
This week, Roberto Di Matteo signed Carlos Vela on loan and he will be a major threat and he's been a joy to watch in the games I've seen him play - and he's scored some fantastic goals and his pace and skill will be something the back four need to carefully monitor. Peter Odemwingie will also be a major threat as well so the potential potent front two will provide a stern test for Gary Caldwell and possibly Alcaraz but failing the return of Alcaraz, it might be a case of the Caldwell brothers in the heart of defence again. However, I would opt for Gohouri in front of Steven Caldwell.
It seems Wigan are not going to be making any signings this window, it seems, but Monday will be a very telling day indeed.
Hugo Rodallega and Charles N'Zogbia should by all accounts return for the game on Tuesday unless there is a dramatic development on Monday but frankly and hopefully, I cannot see this occurring. I see their departures coming in the summer months, but I have a gut feeling if we stay up, that Rodallega may stay but Charles will go to another club and the 15 million that we could receive could be put to very good use - Charles, like Antonio Valencia before him, will be sadly missed but hopefully, that'll pave the way for another legend at the club.
In regards to the game, this is going to be a very cagey affair - neither team will want to give anything away and I suspect that both teams will more or less cancel each other out but I think that league form is not on Roberto Di Matteo's side at the moment. Roberto Martinez cannot boast too much better himself but the difference is Roberto Martinez has been picking up points here and there and with Wigan having experience in getting points when it matters most despite West Brom's relegation battle history, I just feel that Wigan will shade this game and pick up the three points the players, the manager and the fans desperately want to see.
I think this is going to be a closely fought affair - right now I'd take a 0-0 scoreline. I can't see it being a classic game whatsoever. This will be a very difficult game indeed and with Paul Scharner in the game as well, it should boast for a great encounter in that respect. I think that Wigan will just and I mean just, shade this game and will finally go up the table and give them the confidence they need to stay up. Wigan need something from this game, no doubt about it. Even if West Brom win, they will still be in trouble as the twists and turns of the Premier League shall be still rife.
West Brom 0-1 Wigan Athletic