Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Wigan Athletic

After Charles N'Zogbia's 94th-minute winner against West Ham, Wigan possess what every side requires going into the final weekend -- momentum.

The belief when the final whistle went at an unusually raucous DW Stadium was tangible. Manager Roberto Martinez has no serious injury worries and they are in reasonable form, having taken eight points from their last five matches. Wigan have also known for some time that it would go down to the wire, which might give them a psychological edge.

Although they are in the relegation zone, it is untrue to say that Wigan's fate is out of their hands. Because two of the five threatened teams, Wolves and Blackburn, face each other, victory at Stoke will guarantee a seventh season in the Premier League. There are parallels with 2007 and a showdown with Sheffield United in a rainstorm that saw Wigan come through and relegate Neil Warnock's side on the final day.

But winning at the Britannia Stadium is something Wigan have done only once, and never in the Premier League. They have won only once away from home since St Stephen's Day and that was at Blackpool, the team in the country most unlike Stoke.

Nevertheless, Stoke are more fallible than they have been in previous seasons at the Britannia -- Fulham and Blackpool won there -- but a draw, something Martinez has overseen 15 times this season, would be enough if Spurs beat Birmingham and Blackpool lose.

If both Blackpool and Birmingham are beaten decisively then Wigan may stay up with a narrow defeat. If they go down 1-0 at Stoke and Birmingham and Blackpool each lose 3-0 at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford, then Wigan will remain in the Premier League on a combination of goals scored and goal difference. They probably shouldn't make this Plan A.

Score in reverse fixture: Drew 2-2

Last victory v Stoke: 1-0, Nov 2004


Away form: LLWLD

Top scorer: Charles N'Zogbia 7

Odds to go down: 4-6

Irish Independent

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