Last time on Jesus Was a Wiganer: this viewer was left in fear of Roberto Martinez’s future at Wigan Athletic following a ninth straight defeat in all competitions. Rumours had started to spread about the Spanish supremo, who was supposedly ‘set to walk out’ based on highly cryptic, Enigma-style clues tucked away in interviews with Dave Whelan.
It was all codswallop, of course. Expert crossword compilers and Mensa quiz book writers have confirmed there was no solid evidence beyond the recent extended run of bad results –which I take no delight in reminding you is now nearing three solid months in length– and the collective will of many a pessimistic Wigan Athletic fan.
You can, however, feel the seam beginning to come apart. I’m not sure if there’ll be as much confidence in Bob’s Latics prospects come Saturday evening, but we shall leave such speculation for, well, tomorrow evening. Continuing with the (tenuous) cricket analogy, we’ll be hoping to put off that mandatory ‘ball change’ for some time, but it all depends on how many wickets we take against Blackburn.
Moving on to strictly footballing matters, I won’t try to second guess Roberto’s choice of starting lineup, merely suggest a potential XI which could help facilitate an end to this results drought. But hey, I ain’t the big boss with authority to make such assumptions reality, so take it all with a pinch of salt; my recent pre-match predictions for how Roberto will configure the Wigan starting XI have been less than accurate, sometimes to the point of being potentially libellous.
Notice how Ali Al-Habsi finally makes an appearance in these possible lineups? I guess his consistent presence in goal is one positive in this season of relative negativity, and that’s contributory to the fact I forgot to put him in there up until now. Stupid really, because he’s been one of the better performers for the club since his arrival two seasons ago.
Speaking of decent performances, an alternative attacking lineup might feature Argentine Franco Di Santo, but for all his improvements this campaign, you still don’t see him as a goalscorer. Don’t get me wrong – he’s been one of the more impressive performers this campaign, and it’s somewhat unfair to rely on him as a primary source of regular goals, but he isn’t quite of the Nathan Ellington or (cough) Graeme Jones mould.
What we need to do is score, and this is a task that should ideally be delegated to your most experienced attacker. In our case, it’s left winger (insert tongue in cheek smiley here) Hugo Rodallega, who’s been struggling with injury and form this season. One would hope that a single goal would cure this, and that the bandwagon will get rolling again with Victor Moses and Momo Diame et al getting in on the act as well.
Once again, it will be a case of make do and mend at the back – Bob will have to make do with a less experienced centre back as he tries to mend the leaky pipe that is Latics back four. I would have suggested Boyce, but seeing as Gohouri played there last week it seems Roberto prefers Emmerson on the right.
Owing to misdemeanours, we won’t see Antolin Alacaraz for a while so Martinez might as well order him to have dip in the River Douglas: “yeah, Ant, I forgot to mention they’ve forecast snow for tomorrow, so bring your parka.” We shouldn’t laugh because spitting is a serious, unnecessary offence that has no place in the modern game (as opposed to racism which is, apparently, tolerated). Maybe that Diouf bloke, who’s reported to have been training with Latics this season, has been a bad influence.
Alcaraz is, surprisingly, Latics’ only real absence. By contrast, Blackburn have more than their fair share injury problems, with defenders Ryan Nelson, Scott Dann and Michel Salgado set to miss this weekend’s action. By this token, expect chances to come at both ends (yes, even for Wigan) as the league’s bottom two fight to climb out of the snake pit that is the relegation zone.