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Wigan Athletic v West Ham Utd

Filed: Tuesday, 3rd March 2009
By: Preview Percy

And so to Wigan for a 7.45pm kick off against one of the least likeable Chairman/Manager combinations in the Premier League.

The club owned by price fixing child slave-labourer and arch-hypocrite Dave “rules are for other people” Whelan, currently lie in 8th position, one point and one place behind our good selves. Their current form over the last six games isn’t that spectacular, having drawn four and lost two of their last six outings. Their latest defeat came at Chelsea where most observers thought them to be slightly unfortunate to go down 2-1 to a late Fat Boy header.

The defeat gave the perennially miserable Bruce something to moan about, though his rant that Chelsea’s first should have been disallowed for a foul that had occurred nearly two whole minutes before the goal was scored was laughable in the extreme. He may have had a point for the second – Fat Boy’s shove in the back of Melchiot was as blatant a foul as you could ever want to see.

However, his whining comment that “big clubs get all the decisions” was rather pathetic. There again he ought to know I suppose – most of the trophies and medals that came his way during his playing career owed a fair bit to dodgy refereeing and I don’t recall him complaining back then.

They were fairly active in the January window, being the fulcrum of the striker merry-go-round that saw Marlon King move from Hull to Boro’ via the JJB. King stayed only long enough on his return to find out where he was being sent next, that destination being the Riverside where he crossed Mido coming on loan in the other direction.

Wigan beat Boro’ to the signature of Ben Watson who seems to be on a tour of thick managers as does Charles N’Zogbia. N’Zogbia famously took umbrage after being called “insomnia” by Joe Kinnear, then (with no sense of irony) joined a club that has drawn three of its last four games (away at Villa and Boro’ and home to Fulham) 0-0. Ryan Taylor went the other way whilst Emile Heskey disappeared down the M6 to Villa.

Their last victory, like many, this season was against Spurs on 11 January when an injury time winner from Figueroa gave them a home win. However they have seemed short of goals. Zaki – who couldn’t stop scoring at the start of the season – has only stuck away penalties since the turn of the year and you have to go back to Boxing Day for a match in which they scored twice when they beat Newcastle 2-1 – though they did stick three past Blackburn just before Christmas

At Chelsea Valencia, Mido and Koumas were all missing through injury whilst the aforementioned Watson was suspended. All four should be available for selection on Wednesday night so there are likely to be a number of changes from the side that started at Stamford Bridge.

We will also not be unchanged, Sunday’s decent victory against Man City was of course marred by the injury to Valon Behrami. The Swiss midfielder has had a fine season and Lucas Neill for one will probably attest to the hard work he has put in all season – many is the time that Behrami has come to Neill’s rescue. This will give Zola an interesting selection issue.

Noble’s return from suspension will see him available for selection to replace Behrami. However, Savio’s decent second half against City makes him an outside bet for a starting berth, especially as we have few other players capable of running at defenders in quite the same way. Zola will probably resist the temptation though and start with Noble and I expect that both Kovac and Di Michele will retain their places in a line up that might have been unchanged but for Behrami’s injury.

There were some good signs against City – there was some excellent football and, for once, the ball was played wide on occasion. We still tried to sit back having taken the league – something that I never feel comfortable watching us do. Wigan is also somewhere where we have had mixed fortunes in the past.

Two years ago a fine 3-0 win was gained as part of the Great Escape whilst last season we were “treated” to a dull as ditchwater 1-0 defeat. All my instincts tell me that this one ought to be a draw this time round – their lack of goals against our attempts to walk the ball in should cancel each other out.

Despite the mouth-watering prospect of seeing the look on Bruce’s face if we were to win I’ll stick with my initial instincts and predict a 1-1 draw which will see us stay in 7th and leave us three points away from the 40 point spot.

Enjoy the game!

Last Season: Lost 1-0 - a freak header from Kevin Kilbane was enough to give the home side the spoils on a pitch that appeared to have been deliberately prepared with a view to stopping football being played.

Danger man: Zaki – hasn’t scored for weeks and we all know what happens to us when we come up against players on runs like that. Mido always seems to score against us too.

Look out for: Home supporters – Wigan are not the best supported of teams and for this one the JJB could make the Riverside seem overcrowded if their past attendances are anything to go by.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by dodger
12:02AM 4th Mar 2009
''We were getting it wide against City because Savio was playing! And that's why IMO he must play against Wigan. Kovac is unproven yet and Noble is off-form, so I'm not sure which of those two I'd plump for but I'd definitely start Savio.

Great preview though, and a completely accurate assessment of Wigan. One day, hopefully soon, them and their just-as-ugly twin sister Bolton will be relegated. That will be a very sweet day indeed. ''

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