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Wigan Athletic v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 27th October 2012
By: Preview Percy

I am told that this is the most read preview column for miles around. Or one of them. Maybe. Every week I put in hours of research. Ok minutes of research. Probably. And all for the occasional packet of Werthers’ Originals which, I might add, are usually past their sell-by date having come from Ken Tucker’s sweetshop. So what happens? The editor gets his smiling mug in the matchday programme and there’s even a mention for his gormless short-arse side-kick.

And me – who puts hours of work into this every week? Nothing. Not even a “Preview Percy also contributes to the site”. And guess what. Only a few weeks after my taking time out of my busy whist and bunion-treatment schedule here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered to write a piece about Wigan for the League Cup, the not-so-dynamic duo are back to make me write it all again. And you know what is really galling? There aren’t even that many Wigan supporters to annoy and gum up the editor’s inbox (unlike when I write about Tottenham when even the mildest of critical comments brings forth a torrent of badly spelt abuse). Still I’m not bitter.

It’s a 3pm kick off on Saturday at the modestly named DW Stadium. There appears to be a spot of engineering work afoot on the West Coast Main Line around the Preston area which may affect trains to/from Wigan. Be prepared for an early start, detours and the odd bus replacement then.

Our hosts go into this match in 16th place on 5 points from their 8 games thus far. They are separated from Southampton, who are in the uppermost of the relegation zone places, by a point and Aston Villa, over whom they it by virtue of goals scored. The five points came from an away win at Southampton (2-0) and draws at home to Stoke and Everton (both 2-2). The other five all ended in defeat (obviously) at home to Chelsea (0-2) and Fulham (1-2) and away at Man Utd (4-0), Sunderland (1-0) and most recently at Swansea (2-1). A start best described as “indifferent” then. Though things have been a little better in the League Cup where they are through to the fourth round courtesy of a 4-1 win over our reserves.

Manager Roberto Martinez has been in lumber with the authorities of late. A £10,000 fine for criticising referee Michael Oliver after his performance in the 4-0 drubbing at Old Trafford was later reduced on appeal to £8,000. Presumably the charge was for revealing official secrets and one waits in vain for the day a referee is properly brought to task when a performance is not up to standard. It was an interesting summer for Martinez who is still at Wigan, despite dodgy hypocrite Dave Whelan’s obvious attempts to shift him on to Liverpool or Spurs. Presumably Whelan’s grandmother has long since gone and was therefore unavailable for sale.

The 'keeper is likely to be Ali Al Habsi. Unusually, Al Habsi also played in the League Cup tie with Martinez having eschewed the modern practice of giving the no.2 selection a run out between the sticks. Back home in Oman he is the patron of a road safety charity dedicated to reducing accidents on the roads. Presumably whilst playing in the Premier League he's taking tips from his fellow professionals, many of whom have detailed experience of road traffic laws. Al Habsi nearly levelled the scores in the dying seconds at Swansea last weekend when coming up for a corner, his header being saved by his Swansea counterpart Voom.

Wigan's goal against Swansea came from defender Emmerson Boyce. The finish was a rather nifty flick. Boyce holds Wigan's record for the most appearances in the top flight and, despite hailing from Aylesbury, the spiritual birthplace of progressive rock, he qualifies for Barbados on the international front by virtue of both of his parents coming from that part of the world an he has skippered the full side. Not bad for someone who had to put up with partnering Matthew Upson in the Luton Youth team all those years ago.

Midfielder Jordi Gomez followed Martinez from Swansea a few years ago (though technically he was only on loan in South Wales from Espanyol). He had a run in with the increasingly erratic Howard Webb a few weeks back when a relatively innocent challenge resulted in a red card. The appeal was successful enabling him to play in both the Everton and Swansea matches. His involvement against Swansea was limited to the last 7 minutes plus stoppage, though he still managed to pick up a yellow in that period.

The player Gomez replaced last weekend was striker Franco Di Santo. The Italo-Argentinian is joint top scorer this term with 3 goals from his 7 appearances this term. He started off his English career with Chelsea and is well known to Mr Allardyce having spent time under his managership on loan at Blackburn.

One of Di Santo's fellow joint top scorers is Ivorian Aroune Kone. In fact Kone probably ought to be one goal up in the scoring chart having had a goal incorrectly chalked off for offside last weekend. Martinez ended up biting his tongue after that one being understandably wary of further enriching the coffers of the FA. Like Dempsey at Spurs, despite being a forward he carries the no.2 shirt. Now I know these days it's all squad numbers but like stupidly playing music after goals. Playing your no.2 up front is just plain wrong.

The third of the joint top scorers is another Argentinian, striker Mauro Boselli. That stat is slightly misleading though as his goals have all come in the League Cup – two of them against our reserves. In fact it's not been the greatest of times for Boselli since arriving at Wigan in 2010. After struggling for form they packed him off on loan to Genoa in 2011 and back home to Estudiantes where he finished top scorer in the complicated two tournament competition they have out there. Meanwhile he picked up the “worst foreigner” award as voted for by both Wigan's supporters. Expect him on the bench.

As it's Wigan we'll gloss over Crimewatch this week. No amount of drink driving by any of his employees could ever trump the many crimes committed against football, rugby, the world of finance and humanity in general by Dave Whelan (see previews passim).

“So what about us?” you ask. Well the performance against Southampton wasn't the world's greatest by any stretch of the imagination. However, after a poor first half we kept plugging away and the three points were well deserved and the haunted look on the face of their unpleasant manager brought rare smile around these parts. As did the quality of Maiga's goal at the end – most pleasing to the eye.

Injury news is that Matt Taylor is likely to miss out again with a calf strain. Guy Demel faces a fitness test on his hip. If he fails that expect Tomkins to fill in again at right back though Joey O'Brien is also close to a return. Other than that the usual long term absentees (Diarra, Vaz Te, Collison) will be continuing their rehab.

Wigan were, by all accounts, a tad unlucky not to get a point last week – the “offside” goal and the fact that they had the upper hand for long spells all counted for nothing in the end. Against that it should be borne in mind that all is not well behind the scenes at Swansea. They haven't won in six matches and have yet to pick up a home win this season. We can appreciate the pressure that a failure to perform at home brings – though with such a relatively small support maybe that's not as big an issue for the home side.

This one is in our hands I reckon. The number of changes made by both sides in the League Cup tie makes that result largely irrelevant in my humble opinion. If we perform to the level we know we can – and have done so for most of this season then we ought to be capable of taking all three points back down the M6. There's always the spectre of turning in a “Swansea” performance I suppose but with a tough run of matches to come I reckon we'll have enough about us to get the win. The £2.50 that I got for selling past their sell-by date Werthers' Originals to the other inmates at the Aream Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered will therefore be handed over to Mr Winstone in consideration of a wager on a 2-1 win to us.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Lost 4-1 (League Cup). A bright start with a goal from Maiga undone by a catalogue of errors. Few who played that night will be involved this weekend.

Referee: Jonathan Moss. Last seen in April handling our 3-3 draw with Bitmingham -a match from which we came back from 2-0 and 3-1 down. No friend of Boy George.

Danger Man: Franco Di Santo. Difficult one to pick this week – he or Kone could be considered to be a threat.

Daft Fact Of The Week: Liverpool MD Ian Ayre branded Dodgy Dave Whelan as a “comedian” during the negotiations between the two clubs over the potential move by Martinez to the scousers. (It should be noted that the word “comedian” has a completely different meaning in Liverpool to the rest of the world where it means “person who is as funny as an ingrowing toenail” – see Ken Dodd, Stan Boardman, Tom O'Connor et al for further examples.)

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 19; West Ham Utd 10, Wigan 7, Draws 2.

Biggest Win
29th Novmeber 2003: West Ham Utd 4-0 Wigan Ath (Boleyn Ground, Division One)

Heaviest Defeat
25th September 2012: West Ham Utd 1-4 (Boleyn Ground, Capital One Cup)

First Meeting
January 1984: West Ham Utd 1-0 Wigan Ath (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)

They Played For Both
Roy Carroll; Henri Camara; Bill Wade; Mark Ward; Mohamed Diame; Jimmy Bullard.

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 Ben Cole
10:44PM 27th Oct 2012
''Arrogant review but then you do support West Ham.''

by Abuga
10:42PM 27th Oct 2012
''Yeah right. Sunderland are linked with everybody who sneezes twice and shouts "ole". I've heard we want the kit man from the Mags, the coach driver from 'Boro and are looking for a really good tea lady from anyone at any price.''

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