Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday April 5 2008
Latics welcome Steve Bruces old club Birmingham City to the JJB in what is a genuine 6 point relegation battle with the victors being able to pull clear of their rivals with the game clock ticking fast.
After this afternoon there will be just 5 games left so a win is crucial to both clubs survival
Latics run-in will see them up against Chelsea (a), Spurs (h), Reading (h), Aston Villa (a), and finally Manchester United at home on the last day of the season, not a game where you want to be going into needing a win.
Birmingham face an equally difficult run-in of Everton (h), Aston Villa (a), Liverpool (h), Fulham (a) and finish off with a home game against Blackburn.
The saving grace for both clubs is the fact that Fulham and Bolton are on 24 and 26 points respectively and face a more challenging run in that either Latics or Brum.
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
'You can't go into a game saying 'we can't get beaten''.
'If you need to settle for a draw, so be it. It gets you another point and that might be the point that takes you over the line, you never know.
'But the game is there to be won and we'll try to do that. In a relegation battle it's about accumulating points.'
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish:
'We know what we will face. Steve will be very determined to beat his old club and that would be natural for the type of character Steve is.
'He will have the Wigan players wound up to fever pitch in the dressing room.
'I know Steve well and he did a great job at Birmingham but it is difficult when you are in testing situations.'
Michael Brown and Jason Koumas are both still suspended, Wilson Palacios is back from serving his one match suspension and should go straight in to centre midfield
Kirkland, Melchiot, Scharner, Boyce, Kilbane, Palacios, Skoko, Taylor, Valencia, Heskey, Bent, Aghahowa, Hagen, King, Sibierski, Pollitt, Bramble, Figueroa, Olembe.
First game back after suspension and he faces his old club and the referee who sent him off last time out, could be interesting
Franck Queudrue and Liam Ridgewell are both suspended James McFadden and Olivier Kapo are both out with injury
Maik Taylor, Kelly, Parnaby, Schmitz, Jaidi, Martin Taylor, Murphy, Larsson, Muamba, Johnson, Nafti, McSheffrey, Forssell, Zarate, Jerome, O'Connor, De Ridder, Doyle
If Taylor plays it will be his first game since the Eduardo incident and it will be interesting to see how he reacts once the game starts to flow
This seasons reverse fixture
Birmingham City 3-2 Wigan Athletic
Kapo 26 pen, 81, Ridgewell 67. Bent 23, 59
Ref Steve Tanner
27th October 2007
Latics and Birmingham have played each other in the league on 9 occasions with two wins each and five draws.
There was a famous 3rd round FA Cup clash back in 1978 which Birmingham won 4-0 but the conduct of the Latics in the tie was instrumental in the club being elected to the Football League the following May
Mike Dean (Wirral)
Games - 24
Yellows - 93
Reds - 8
Dean has been in charge of two Latics games this season both away from the JJB and we lost them both. Sunderland we lost 2-0 and Valencia was booked Blackburn we lost 3-1 and had Palacios sent off (2 bookings) and Brown and Melchiot booked.
Heart says Latics win easily 3-0
Head says tense 1-0 win for Latics
Chelsea Vs Latics
Monday 14th April 2008
8pm kick off
Latics Vs Spurs
Saturday 19th April 2008
3pm Kick off
Date:Saturday April 5 2008
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