Kick-Off: Wednesday March 4 2009, 19.45, JJB Stadium, Wigan.
Steve Bruce’s men welcome West Ham United to the JJB Stadium hoping to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat to Chelsea.
The Latics were within minutes of holding Guus Hiddink’s men to an impressive draw at Stamford Bridge before a stoppage time Frank Lampard goal saw the Blues steal all three points.
Until then Bruce’s men had proved a tough challenge for the west Londoners and looked to have stolen a point after Olivier Kapo equalised with less than 10 minutes to go.
Yet the game ultimately ended in defeat to hand Wigan another blow. Athletic have now gone seven games without a win and have drawn four of their last five games.
Goals are also a problem for Wigan who have managed only two in their last seven and must be hoping Amr Zaki and Mido can rediscover their goalscoring touch as soon as possible.
Back On Track
After being knocked out of the FA Cup by Middlesbrough, Gianfranco Zola’s men returned to form with victory over notoriously poor travellers Manchester City on Sunday.
Jack Collison was the man on the scoresheet as the Irons ensured the Manchester millionaires suffered more misery away from Eastlands.
However, the match was marred by injury to summer recruit Valon Behrami who suffered a knee problem and will miss Wednesday’s match.
However, the Irons do go into the game aiming to do the double over Wigan.
The East Londoners claimed a 2-1 win over Bruce’s men back in August with Dean Ashton, now ruled out for the season, grabbing a brace.
Last Five Results
Feb 28: Chelsea 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Feb 21: Middlesbrough 0-0 Wigan Athletic
Feb 7: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Fulham
Jan 31: Aston Villa 0-0 Wigan Athletic
Jan 28: Wigan Athletic 1-1 Liverpool
West Ham United
Mar 1: West Ham 1-0 Manchester City
Feb 25: Middlesbrough 2-0 West Ham
Feb 21: Bolton 2-1 West Ham
Feb 14: West Ham 1-1 Middlesbrough
Feb 8: West Ham 0-1 Manchester United
Wigan are boosted by the returns of Antonio Valencia, Mido and Jason Koumas.
Possible starting XI: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, De Ridder, Cattermole, Koumas, Valencia, Zaki, Mido.
West Ham United
The Hammers only new injury concerns Valon Behrami who misses out with a knee injury and Mark Noble should replace him.
Possible Starting XI: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Noble, Parker, Noble, Collison, Cole, Nsereko.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wigan Athletic – Titus Bramble
Often derided and rarely hailed, Titus Bramble was very impressive against Chelsea at the weekend.
The defender almost scored the opener, until John Terry cleared his header off the line, and also was on hand to deny Didier Drogba with his own goalline clearance.
If he can maintain that form, and with Chris Kirkland behind him, West Ham may find the going tough and he could help propel Wigan to victory.
West Ham United - Savio Nsereko
West Ham’s teenage No. 10 made a telling impact last time out against Manchester City and may be the man to watch again on Wednesday night.
It was his shot that Shay Given found too hot to handle, allowing Jack Collison to stroke home the winner to hand the Hammers all three points.
With Craig Bellamy departed and Dean Ashton out for the season, Savio could yet play an integral part as the Hammers hope to finish the season with a flourish.
These teams look to be closely matched, as the league table indicates, and Wednesday’s game may be a tight encounter.
Whilst Wigan were a little unlucky to lose against Chelsea last time out, West Ham put a recent spell of poor results behind them with victory over Manchester City.
Yet Wigan are overdue a win, and with home advantage, they may just put the disappointment of the weekend behind them and sneak to victory.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2 – 1 West Ham United
Gill Clark, Goal.com