Big Match Preview: Wigan v Fulham

Latics' Erik Edman is in line for a start

Latics' Erik Edman is in line for a start

It feels weird waking up on the Saturday morning knowing you aren’t playing that day. Perhaps you’re out of the FA Cup in one of the early rounds or your match has been switched to a Sunday due to a European fixture — as is the case with this weekend’s Wigan v Fulham game — whatever, you get this strange empty feeling that you’re missing out on something.

It isn’t so bad during the week. Dunno about you, but even if all the other teams in the league are playing on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening and you haven’t got a match until Saturday, you don’t feel quite as left out. Maybe it’s because I support Wigan Athletic and am used to crashing out of cups in Round 1 — or in recent times Round 3 — but I find it’s a lot easier to watch other teams on the telly on a weekday knowing I don’t have to worry about my own for a while.

This was the case on Thursday when I decided to do a bit of scouting for this weekend’s match by grabbing some sandwiches and settling down in front of the box. Fulham’s match against Roma in the Europa Cup was dogged by dubious officiating, which completely ruined their chances against the former Italian champions.

For the first half, the English side looked very good and could have even taken all three points in their group. ‘Twas not to be, however, as a red card for Erik Nevland — and later Konchesky — consigned them to an evening of running backwards on a treadmill.

Though the defeat, and the manner in which it was played out, will have dented confidence levels going into this Sunday’s match, Fulham need only look as far as last weekend’s defeat of Liverpool for a quick fillip. Forget the fact Liverpool had two men sent off, a win is a win is a win, at least according to Alan Hansen and co.

Fulham have their fair share of possible injuries for this match, with Damien Duff, Andy Johnson and Damien Duff all doubtful. I’ll bet at least two of them pull through and make the bench or even start, though.

Wigan come into the match having endured a week to forget, with a 4-0 reverse at Portsmouth rubbing salt into the wounds after the media circus surrounding ‘So Long’ Mar-long. But the return of specialist left back Erik Edman will no doubt be a boost for Martinez, who struggled to fill that position in said defeat.

Hope springs anew, however, in the fact Latics have had decent run of form at home of late, notching seven points in three games. The current crop of players feeds on confidence, which the home crowd — boosted by heavily marketed ticket promotions — could well provide to give them the much-needed edge on Sunday.

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