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Preview: Wigan v Aston Villa
07 Jan 2010 - 14:51:53
Wigan Athletic will be keen to arrest their slump towards the relegation zone when they entertain an Aston Villa team that is hoping to revive their own top-four hopes this weekend.
A sequence of five winless games has left the Latics only one point above the drop-zone with their defence becoming increasingly leaky.
In ten Premier League matches away from the DW Stadium, Roberto Martinez's team have conceded 31 goals already this term.
They have been beaten 5-0 twice by Manchester United as well as being humbled 4-0 at Portsmouth and Arsenal with an amazing 9-1 hammering at Tottenham Hotspur in November being their low-point to date.
There was some cause for optimism last weekend though when an under-strength Wigan side came from behind to beat Hull City in an FA Cup third round clash at a sparsely populated DW Stadium.
Mohamed Diame remains sidelined after injuring knee ligaments in last month's defeat against Liverpool but otherwise Martinez has a full squad to choose from.
Successive festive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal dented Villa's top-four aspirations although they did bounce back well last weekend when they beat Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup.
Those losses have left Villa sixth in the table although they are only two points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham and a Champions League place and, before the Christmas period, they won four successive league games without conceding a goal.
Martin O'Neill will once again be without long-term absentees Wilfred Bouma (ankle) and Curtis Davies (dislocated shoulder).
Last season Villa returned to the Midlands after thrashing Wigan 4-0 with Gareth Barry, Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew and Steve Sidwell all finding the net.
However, the Latics are this season looking to complete a fine double after winning 2-0 at Villa Park on the opening weekend of the campaign.