As the finish line of this Premier League season approaches, each match is beginning to take on significantly more meaning. Earlier in the season, a Wigan vs Newcastle fixture would have barely raised the interest of any football followers outside the two clubs’ supporters. Yet now, with just a few weeks remaining, this match holds enormous implications at both ends of the table. While Newcastle are incredibly fighting for a once-unlikely Champions League place, Wigan are doing all they can to stave off relegation and remain in England’s top flight.
The Latics head into this weekend’s encounter high on confidence after pushing Fulham to the brink on Saturday, just a week after they incredibly defeated Manchester United and Arsenal in successive matches.
Newcastle on the other hand have strung together six straight league wins and now have a stranglehold on fourth position after Tottenham suffered yet another demoralising loss at QPR last weekend.
Consequently, this is set to be a thrilling encounter as both clubs enter the match in their richest form of the season.
The match will see a contrast of two vastly different styles. Newcastle will play their conventional 4-4-2 formation while Wigan will utilise their unique 3-4-3 structure that has proved so effective in recent times.
The result will be largely determined by the battle in the middle of the pitch. Alan Pardew will likely use Yohan Cabaye and Cheikh Tiote in central midfield, with the attacking and damaging left foot of Hatem Ben Arfa likely employed on the right. Roberto Martinez on the other hand will insert the two James’, McCarthy and McCarthur, into central midfield to maintain as much possession as possible in order to provide Victor Moses and Franco Di Santo with the opportunities needed to score.
Yet while Wigan do possess a significant threat in attack on the break via Moses and Di Santo, Newcastle still hold all the aces in offensive potential. On fire striker Papiss Cisse, who has netted 11 goals in 10 games since his move to the Magpies, will be once again accompanied by Demba Ba. As a combination, these two will give the Wigan defensive unit countless problems as they both have the ability to score in the air and on the ground against any opponents.
Wigan however, will be buoyed by Newcastle’s mediocre record away from home which has seen them claim just seven victories from 16 matches outside of Sports Direct Arena. Interesting, Alan Pardew’s side have been significantly worse at the defensive end in away fixtures, as they have conceded almost twice as many goals when away from home.
Prediction: Expect a tight affair in this one. Although Newcastle are on a tear right now, Wigan have their tails up and will fancy their chances against another league heavyweight. The fact that the match is at the DW Stadium also aids the Latics’ chances as they go for their third win in four outings. Moses and Di Santo will cause the Magpies some headaches on the counter-attack and should find the net at least once. Their biggest issue however is at the other end, where they will find it immensely difficult to keep a clean sheet against Cisse, Ba, Ben Arfa and Cabaye.
Wigan 1-2 Newcastle