Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday August 13 2011
Wigan Athletic get their season underway with a home game against newly promoted Norwich City, who are most definitely a club on a roll.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez will be hoping that his team will carry on where they left off last season, a rich vein of form at the end of the campaign saw Wigan not only preserve their Premier League status but also play some truly exciting football and look a very accomplished side.
Since the last day win at Stoke, Charles N'Zogbia has left for pastures new and he will be sorely missed, also gone is Tom Cleverley, though his leaving won't be too detrimental.
Victor Moses is being touted as the man to step up to the plate and be counted in the absence of N'Zogbia, preseason form suggests that the 20 year old will relish the added responsibility and at the moment he is playing like a man on fire, Martinez will be hoping that the young wide man can keep his form going well into the new season as the Latics look to get a good start.
Last season the first two games were a travesty with the Latics getting battered, two losses, no goals for and ten against, plus they were both home fixtures and one was against a newly promoted side. Surely we have learnt from the experience and I can't see anything but a home win from today's opener.
Norwich will be a tough obstacle, they have a team that brims confidence, Paul Lambert is a good young manager with a shrewd eye in the transfer market, he has brought in Anthony Pilkington form Huddersfield and the young wing man is a great prospect, Steven Morison signed from Millwall will add to their fire power and the two loan signings of Kyle Naughton from Spurs and Ritchie De Laet from Manchester United will add some class to their defence.
In Chris Martin, Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt the Canaries have a threat could well see them sustain their newly found Premier League status but here's hoping that they get off to the worst possible start.
Latics boss Roberto Martinez:
"My reaction when I looked at the fixtures was, 'this is going to be tough`. The first game's tough, then you look at the second game and it's just as hard. By the third fixture you just want to hang yourself.
"There's nothing you can do. But we need to be well aware that the most difficult time to play these newly promoted sides is at the start of the season.
"We're going to be heavily tested and I feel if we can get through this period with positive results it is going to put us in a great position. It's going to be a real test of how well we've progressed in the last two years.
"We've learnt many lessons. When playing a newly promoted side on the opening day, it's very difficult to match their enthusiasm and their energy and winning mentality.
"We were very naive against Blackpool last season and we left ourselves exposed. We need to make sure we are more competitive."
Norwich boss Paul Lambert:
"We have no Premier League experience at all, so we are going to have to learn quickly.
" I like to play football in the right way but it's no good going out and playing fantastic football if you lose. Winning is the be all and end all. If Norwich can stay in this league it would probably surpass anything we have ever done."
James McCarthy is very doubtful with a twisted ankle, Hugo Rodallega and Antolin Alcaraz should take their place's in the starting line-up despite missing the entire preseason regime through competing in the Copa America
Al-Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Fgueroa, Watson, Diame, McArthur, Gomez, Moses, Rodallega
Simply sensational in preseason
By permission of Bernard Platt/Wigan Athletic
James Vaughan and Elliott Ward are both out injured.
Ruddy, Rudd, Russell Martin, Drury, Whitbread, Barnett, Tierney, De Laet, Naughton, Francomb, Johnson, Andrew Crofts, Surman, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Fox, Bennett, Smith, Lappin, Adeyemi, Dawkin, Ball, Hughes, McNamee, Morison, Holt, Jackson, Mart.
The Latics and Norwich have met just five times previously.
Latics 1 win, Norwich 3, draws 1.
Last Five Meetings
09 Apr 04 - Division 1 0 Norwich 2 Latics 0
4 Oct 03 - Division 1 - Wigan 1 Norwich 1
2 Sep 98 - League Cup - Wigan 2 Norwich 3
6 Sep 98 - League Cup - Norwich 1 Wigan 0
1 Jan 87 - FA Cup - Wigan 1 Norwich 0
Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Why not take a look at our excellent 'Meet The Ref' article
Head says 1-0 Latics win
Heart says 2-0 Latics win
Date:Saturday August 13 2011
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