After picking up four victories in their last six matches in all competitions its fair to say Wigan’s springtime escape act is well and truly underway. Its unlikely they’ll have to repeat the run of seven wins in their final nine fixtures that secured their Premier League status last season and if they maintain current form will avoid the final day scramble for safety. With a game in hand and three points separating them from 17th placed Aston Villa the ball is firmly in the Latics court. They now enter a pivotal phase with a basement battle with QPR and the FA Cup semi final with Millwall coming after the visit of Norwich. Thankfully for Roberto Martinez his side have started to make home form count at the right time and demonstrated their fighting spirit with a late win against Newcastle at the DW Stadium last time out.
Chris Hughton’s side, although not in the same predicament as Saturday’s hosts, need points to guarantee they’ll be a top-flight club for the third successive season. The Canaries currently sit 12th and seven points clear of the drop zone having drawn their last two games. Although there is no immediate danger of them being dragged into a scrap for survival Hughton won’t leave anything to chance. One thing he must solve is his side’s inability to score goals with the net bulging a paltry three times in their last six matches.
Roberto Martinez is hoping controversial winger Callum McManaman can recover from an ankle injury in time to feature for Wigan. The 21-year-old has courted controversy in the last fortnight following his horror tackle on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara and Martinez may opt to remove him from the spotlight.
Norwich boss Chris Hughton will hand a rare start to goalkeeper Lee Camp with Mark Bunn suspended and John Ruddy still sidelined. Alexander Tettey (knee) is fit to return as is Russell Martin (hamstring). Anthony Pilkington is won’t be back until next week.
What the managers said…
“He’s a joy of a human being and I know he will come back a stronger person after this. He’s already represented England at Under-20s level, and was involved in the squad for the youth World Cup in Colombia in 2011. Callum has that raw talent to help England a few years down the line. I’m not saying now, but in three or four years he will be someone, who can bring something completely different to the England squad.” Roberto Martinez has revealed he believes Callum McManaman will play for England one day (The Mirror)
“The ironic thing is that they’ve found themselves in this position before, but I think arguably they’ve played better this season than other seasons, so it’s probably a little bit of a surprise to see where they are. They are a very good footballing side. Their form has been up and down, as indicated by their league position. It’s a position that they’ve managed to get out of in the past, though. It’s got to be about us, and we’ve got to make sure we go to Wigan with the same approach as we did going to Sunderland in our last game. We need to give ourselves every chance of winning the football match.” Chris Hughton expects Wigan to pose a stiff test on Saturday (canaries.co.uk)
Pre-Match Statistic: Norwich, along with Watford and Swansea, are the only teams Wigan have never beaten in the Premier League despite three attempts.
Prediction: Wigan Athletic 2-0 Norwich City