Wigan v Fulham preview

06 February 2009 10:30
Wigan will be looking to restore momentum to their challenge for a top-six place with a first win in five games against travel-sick Fulham at the JJB Stadium.

The Latics have won only one Premier League game since the turn of the year, although successive draws against Liverpool and Manchester United suggest Steve Bruce's side is not in bad shape following the turmoil of the transfer window.

Losing Emile Heskey and Wilson Palacios would be a blow for any team, while Ryan Taylor, Kevin Kilbane and Henri Camara also left in January.

But Bruce could hand a debut to new signing Charles N'Zogbia against the Cottagers, while fellow new boys Ben Watson and Hugo Rodallega are also pushing for their first starts in a likely return to a 4-4-2 line-up.

Keeping hold of Antonio Valencia was also something of a coup for Bruce, whose side has won five and drawn one of its last six home league games.

That makes it a potentially daunting trip for Fulham, who are finding away wins typically elusive and are yet to celebrate three points on their travels.

However, wily boss Roy Hodgson has at least made his side harder to beat on the road with points gained this season at Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham and Stoke.

More worryingly, Fulham have lost at Sunderland and West Ham on their last two trips and Hodgson may look to tighten things up with the inclusion of former Everton and Leeds midfielder Olivier Dacourt if the on-loan Inter Milan man is deemed fit enough to start.

Team newsWigan should be boosted by the return of potential match-winner Valencia following a hamstring injury.

Striker Amr Zaki is also set to return following a knee injury which will increase Bruce's options up front.

Zaki is likely to partner Mido in an attack given an extra dimension by the arrival of N'Zogbia to play on the left wing.

Fulham will be without defender Chris Baird, who has tonsillitis.

Striker Diomansy Kamara is pushing for a recall following a return to training but may have to settle for a place on the bench.

Hodgson faces a decision to play either Bobby Zamora or Erik Nevland, who scored twice as a substitute last weekend, as Andy Johnson's strike partner.

New signings Dacourt and Giles Barnes are also included in the squad for the first time.

Possible starting XIsWigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Figueroa, Valencia, Brown, Cattermole, N'Zogbia, Zaki, Mido.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey, Etuhu, Murphy, Davies, Nevland, Johnson.


Skysports.com prediction: 2-0

SKY BET odds: Wigan 10/11, Draw 12/5, Fulham 16/5

One to Watch: Antonio Valencia

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Source: SKY_Sports