Wigan V Newcastle at The DW Stadium : Match Preview

17 March 2013 10:17
Wigan V Newcastle - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Martinez banking on home comforts

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes the DW Stadium can still provide salvation for his side, despite an appalling record there this season.

The Latics have the worst home record in the top flight, taking just 10 points from a possible 42 with just two wins, the last coming on November 24.

They will play half of their final 10 matches in front of their own fans, starting against Newcastle on Sunday, and Martinez is confident Wigan can utilise the feelgood factor of fans looking forward to an FA Cup semi-final appearance.

"It is something we have been working at and we need to change, but to give you a clear answer it is because we concede too many goals," said the Spaniard, trying to explain their poor home form.

"We haven't been playing too badly and it is not much different to the way we play away from home, but what is different is the final outcome and how easy we concede goals.

"On Sunday we see it as the start of the final five games at the stadium where we need to hit our best form and that is our focus.

"It is a big difference to play at the DW Stadium at this final time of the season where the whole environment is more intense and gives the players that extra yard and we need to take advantage of that."

It was around this time last season the Latics put together a formidable run which saw them win seven of their last nine matches to escape relegation.

Martinez believes that feat will help them 12 months on.

His side are three points from safety, although they have a match in hand, but he does not know how many more points they will have to add to their current total of 24 to survive.

"We are not looking at the points tally, all we are looking at is how we can get a winning run for the final 10 games," he added.

"The lessons (of last season) are there, the experience is there from the dressing room and that gives you knowledge of what to expect.

"But this season the real fight to avoid relegation is harder than ever."

Wigan forward Callum McManaman is a doubt as he is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win at Everton.

Winger Ryo Miyaichi has been ruled out for several weeks at least as he requires surgery on ankle ligaments damaged at Goodison Park. Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, rested last weekend, is set to return to the starting line-up.

Manager Alan Pardew his hoping Newcastle's unlikely bid for European glory will help to blood a new generation of the Toon Army.

Less than four years after Tyneside was plunged into despair by the club's relegation from the Barclays Premier League, the Magpies find themselves contemplating a Europa League quarter-final and daring to dream of an end to their 44-year trophy drought.

The club has undergone a root-and-branch transition since suffering its rude awakening and the rebuilding process, which began as Chris Hughton plotted a way back into the top flight, has gathered pace under successor Pardew, particularly since a January spending spree.

Pardew said: "You are not going to have a tenure where you don't have some problems. We had some big, big problems before Christmas.

"The side really needed help and we got that in the transfer market. We had some of our better players come back to us, particularly [Yohan] Cabaye and [Steven] Taylor and suddenly we look the side we were last year.

"Fortunately for us, we have done well in the Europa League games and we have got another competition that's suddenly made us a very, very buoyant club again.

"We are gaining friends and fans, and that's what it's about. Those young people who don't usually come to Newcastle hopefully will be our fans forever.

"That's what you do on these sort of runs, so it's great."

Pardew has repeatedly spoken of his hunger to bring a long-awaited trophy to St James' Park, although his efforts to land one of the domestic cups have so far come to nothing.

But while winning the Europa League may be a big ask - Newcastle face Portuguese league leaders Benfica in the quarter-finals next month - he is adamant that his chances of lifting silverware are more realistic than they have been at any time during his tenure to date.

The 51-year-old said: "For sure. I have got a better team - that helps - and better players, some great players.

"There are eight teams left and I don't think they are any better than us, so we have got a chance."

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is out of Sunday's clash with Wigan as he faces up to the prospect of surgery on his hamstring.

The 26-year-old France international will miss the rest of the season if, as Pardew fears, he needs an operation on the hamstring he tore in December.

However compatriot Cabaye has a chance of playing at the DW Stadium despite limping out of Thursday night's 1-0 Europa League victory over Anzhi Makhachkala, while full-back Mathieu Debuchy and striker Yoan Gouffran, who are ineligible in Europe, return to the squad.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 14:57