Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Sunday January 2 2011
Latics face Newcastle United this afternoon hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to five games and build upon a little run of form that sees them get the opportunity, with a win, to climb to 12th in the table.
Following on from a good performance against Arsenal on Wednesday, Roberto Martinez will need to plan how to overcome the loss of Latics talisman Charles N`Zogbia, who was sent off and now faces three games out of action.
How big a miss N`Zogbia will be could be crucial to the Latics getting the three points this afternoon. Who Martinez brings in to fill the gap is open to debate but I wouldn`t be surprised to see Ronnie Stam being pushed up from his right back role, Steve Gohouri coming across from the left and Maynor Figueroa getting his slot back in the team.
A bit of a defensive line-up I know, but I wouldn`t be surprised if thats the way it goes especially with news that Antolin Alcaraz is looking doubtful and new signing Adrian Lopez is set for his debut.
Newcastle have taken a bit of a dip in form recently, managing just one win in their last eight games, they will be desperate to get back on track. Leading goal scorer Andy Carroll is set to miss the game but Kevin Nolan is due back following a one match suspension.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez:
'To remain unbeaten in the month of December is a real statement of the consistency we've been aiming for and as always we'll go into every game looking to take full points.
'Newcastle are a team full of experience with four or five players who have great knowledge of the Premier League.
'We'll have to very alert as they have a good record away from home with wins at Everton, West Ham and Arsenal that shows the potential in Alan Pardew's team.'
'Newcastle have got strength in many areas; the combination of Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez on the left, the experience in the middle of Alan Smith, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, and the blistering pace of Wayne Routledge on the right.
'They're a well balanced team who demand the opposition be at full strength in order to compete.
'It'll be a good challenge defensively and overall a good game to look forward to.'
McCarthy, Moses, Di Santo and Boyce are all out injured, N'Zogbia suspended and Alcaraz rated at 50/50
Al Habsi, G. Caldwell, Gohouri, Stam, Figueroa, Alcaraz, Watson, Diame, McArthur, Cleverley, Thomas, Rodallega, Pollitt, Boselli, Gomez, McManaman, S. Caldwell, Lopez
With N'Zogbia missing through suspension a lot of the Latics creative play will be reliant on Hugo.
Carroll, Ben Arfa, Gosling and Ryan Taylor out injured
Nolan returns from suspension and Jose Enrique, Shola Ameobi and Sol Campbell are available
Krul, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Perch, Tiote, Lovenkrands, Barton, Routledge, Simpson, Smith, Gutierrez, Ranger, Harper, Williamson, Xisco, Best, Kadar, Nolan, Jose Enrique, Ameobi, Campbell
Midfield terrier and always likely to get on the score sheet
Latics and Newcastle have met 12 times previously
Latics 5 wins, Newcastle 4, draws 3
Last Six Meetings
16/10/2010 - Premier League - Newcastle 2 Latics 2
26/12/2008 - Premier League - Latics 2 Newcastle 1
15/11/2008 - Premier League - Newcastle 2 Latics 2
26/12/2007 - Premier League - Latics 1 Newcastle 0
01/09/2007 - Premier League - Newcastle 1 Latics 0
25/02/2007 - Premier League - Latics 1 Newcastle 0
Howard Webb (Rotherham)
Why not take a look at our excellent 'Meet the Ref' article
Howard Webb Card Watch 2010/11
Games - 22, yellows - 70, reds - 1
Head says 1-1
Heart says 1-0 Latics win, going with my heart as always
Date:Sunday January 2 2011
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