Not exactly Vegas: The 'relatively unglamorous' DW Stadium
Given Wigan’s horrific recent run of losses, a Pools player would mark this game as a sure-fire away win. But, as I have often discovered to my disappointment, games never transpire precisely as you expect them – there are always two or three games that spoil your chances of winning the £10,000 jackpot. From a distinctly Blue point of view, let’s hope Wigan’s contest with the Cottagers turns out to be one of those matches, a game that bucks the trend and puts a long-awaited end to our two-month wait for Premier League points.
All seems fine on the injury front for Latics, as though there are minor doubts over the hamstrung Franco Di Santo and James McCarthy, both should be fit for selection. Hugo Rodallega has also recovered from a small knock sustained during the match with Bolton to take his place in the starting XI once again.
The visitors will be without Phillipe Senderos, Simon Davies and Aaron Hughes, while Bryan Ruiz returns from a knee injury for the Europa League challengers. The ‘relatively unglamorous‘ (Match of the Day’s words, not mine) surroundings of Robin Park await Fulham’s travelling faithful, who make the long trip north to a rainy Wigan hopeful of a first win in three games.
Indeed, the Cottagers are experiencing something of a blip in form having lost their last three games over a period of eight days. Latics fans will know how tough such congested periods can be, even if our most recent ‘nightmare week‘ did not contain the cream of the European footballing crop (no offence to Crystal Palace, of course). Whereas a rested Fulham are expected to turn things around sooner rather than later, Wigan’s bad week snowballed into a grim month and eventually a horrific two months, which is somewhat apt considering Halloween (no puns this year, I promise) is just around the corner. Of course, there’s always the opportunity for a drastic change in fortunes, and a fully-fit (fingers crossed) Latics squad will be hungry for success.
Wigan Athletic v Fulham possible Latics lineup 1
“Good players can play anywhere, and Hugo is a great example of that” — Roberto Martinez, via Wigan Today
Though the above diagram shows how Latics may line up tomorrow afternoon, this prediction is subject to wild variation, especially where the attacking midfield area is concerned. I think Albert Crusat showed enough promise on the left to warrant another starting berth, allowing Rodallega to take a more goalscoring position at centre forward. I also assume Martinez won’t want to risk a returning Franco Di Santo for the full 90 minutes –regardless of his being match fit– and bring him on at some point during the second half. Read on for how that might pan out.
It’s less likely, but Roberto may opt for a slightly more attacking lineup in a bid to squeeze out some vital points. A second half rejig might result in something similar to the following:
Wigan Athletic v Fulham possible Latics lineup 2
To wrap up on an optimistic note, I saw enough encouragement against Newcastle to suggest a more positive result on Saturday. The main task will be scoring goals, but with Rodallega back and the pacey Moses and Crusat settling on the wings, this should be less of a problem than previously. An early goal would get the home crowd behind us and restore some confidence in our ability to score.
Fulham’s game is important because our rank is not far away from them.. Achieving 3 points tomorrow is crucial and needed !! — Ali Al Habsi, via Twitter
Ah, who am I kidding? It’ll be a draw. Again. Put your ten quid on that.